The Dahlonega dormitory Lewis Annex, which has been closed this school year, is scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2019, said Treva Smith, director of Residence Life for the University of North Georgia.
Lewis Annex and Donovan Hall are the only two choices for male students to live in a traditional-style dorm — one with communal bathrooms — keeping the overall living price lower than that of an apartment-style dorm such as The Commons. Donovan Hall had improvements made to it two years ago, Smith said.
Construction is currently scheduled to start on Lewis Annex in October of 2018 and will result in several structural improvements.
Residence Life plans on completely replacing the building’s heating and air cooling system, rebuilding all four bathrooms and replacing the ceilings in the hallways, Smith said.
Former residents of Lewis Annex agreed that changes need to be made to the building.
“There was a two-week period where the hot water heater broke,” said Conner Domaleski, a sophomore history major who lived in the Lewis Annex last school year. “We either had to shower in ice-cold water or walk to a different dormitory to shower.”
The heating and cooling system made the dorm uncomfortable for students, Domaleski said: “The whole building could only stay on one temperature and they would keep it the same for every season. It didn’t matter if there was a hot day or a cold day.”
It was hard to keep residents satisfied with their living situation, said Russel Freel, a senior criminal justice major and former resident assistant in Lewis Annex.
“One of the worst parts of living in Lewis last year was the leak from the second-floor bathroom. One of my resident’s rooms began to grow mold due to the leak,” Freel said.
Along with the changes being made to the residence hall, the architect may use the space within the basement for different activities, Smith said. The basement of Lewis Annex could include multiple quiet areas for students to study. It is currently an open living area with two computers, a TV and chairs.
Due to Lewis Annex remaining closed, Lewis Hall, which has spent this school year as an all-female dormitory for freshman and upperclassmen, will become a co-ed dormitory only available for upperclassmen for the fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019. This allows upperclassmen to continue to live on campus at the cheapest offered price.
No work is being done structurally on any living areas or any of the bedrooms. The walls will be repainted and the carpet replaced throughout the building.
Smith confirmed Residence Life plans to update the kitchen in the Lewis Annex, but added it isn’t as urgent as the structural changes.
While Domaleski agreed the renovations are necessary, he said he will miss the freedom of living in the building.
“Even though it felt like a prison cell, it was so old and rundown that we could really do whatever we wanted to it,” he said. “We could play putt in the hallway, kick soccer balls against the walls … just be stupid boys.”