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(Beloit, WI) Beloit Daily News Staff

An historic former women’s dormitory is returning to Beloit College as a residence hall in 2016, thanks to the generosity of two local donors.

“Thanks to the generosity of Beloiters Jim and Nancy Packard, Beloit College owns Emerson Hall again,” said Beloit College President Scott Bierman during commencement ceremonies Sunday. “For the first time in 34 years, the dormitory will be open for students.”

Jim Packard is a long-time trustee on the college board, and former chairman of the Regal-Beloit Corporation.

The college intends to begin raising additional funds to begin renovation of the building this fall. The building is expected to re-open in the fall of next year and house about 60 students.

The building’s name honored Beloit College Professor Joseph Emerson who laid the cornerstone on Nov. 19, 1897. Emerson Hall originally was a women’s dormitory and housed 50 students. The building continued to serve as a women’s dormitory until the 1960s when it became co-ed.

The last Beloit College students lived in Emerson Hall in 1977.

The college transferred temporary ownership of the building to Emerson Hall Associates, which ran it as an apartment building until a September 2013 fire that caused extensive damage. It has been unoccupied since the fire.

The college reached agreement with the temporary owners to take back title to Emerson Hall on May 13. Plans call for renovations to ready the dorm for use by fall of 2016.

All renovation costs are expected to be covered by donations, principally those provided by the Packards.

Emerson Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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