Despite presence of asbestos, Blake Hall will not undergo construction

Blake Hall (pictured above) was recently tested for asbestos and results indicated that the environment was safe for professors and students to work in. No plans are currently in order to renovate or demolish the building (Udeshi Seneviratne/photo editor).

Blake Hall is located on central campus and is recognizable to students for its iconic archway. The building is home to WGSU, Campus Auxiliary Services, the Communication department and the Knight Spot. Like many older buildings on campus, Blake Hall is also contaminated with asbestos. 

“There’s asbestos in almost every building we have,” Assistant Vice President for Facilities & Planning George Stooks said. “The older the building, the more prevalent it is.” 

The asbestos in Blake isn’t dangerous and it is safe for communication professors to have their offices in the building, according to Stooks.

“We have people certified to do inspections and also to do minor abatements,” Stooks said. “We had them go around and do Blake recently because we’re planning on using that for search space when we renovate Sturges Hall.”

Along with stale air, outdated furniture and narrow hallways, the building has also faced wear and tear. Recently, Blake experienced a leak in one of the upper-level floors that seeped into the ceiling of the floor below, Stooks said. The college then brought in a contractor to remove the ceiling.

The future of Blake is unclear, with no set plans for any construction projects.

“There’s been a lot of conversation about tearing the building down or a portion thereof,” Stooks said. “That is not something that is in design in any way shape or form at this point in time.” 

Blake was built in 1949 and began as a campus residence hall and cafeteria. Named after Ann S. Blake, the head of the kindergarten department in Geneseo Normal School’s School of Practice, Blake Hall has been a prominent building on campus for decades.

“Sometimes it is more cost effective to take a building down,” Stooks said. “Right now we don’t have any plans for Blake.”

The Geneseo Crew Club utilizes the Knight Spot almost every day for training in both the on and off season, according to crew member sophomore Emily Gordin.

“We use the room every single day of the week most weeks to train,” Gordin said. “Without it, we would not only be without a place to train, but we would not be able to train at all.”

On the other hand, communication and psychology double major junior Jack Grant said that the building doesn’t fit his needs as a communication major.

“When I’m there I do not get the vibe that it is made for collaboration which is what communication is about for me,” Grant said. “I think it could benefit from more spaces for people to work together and do research in the field.”

Plans to renovate surrounding buildings in Sturges Quad have commenced, according to Stooks. Sturges and Fraser Hall renovations are set to begin in March of 2020.