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Oxford's Seney Hall undergoing renovations

Work crews are continuing renovations on the exterior of Seney Hall at Oxford College. The $1.1 million project includes structural and roof work to the historic building that was built in 1881.

Work crews are continuing renovations on the exterior of Seney Hall at Oxford College. The $1.1 million project includes structural and roof work to the historic building that was built in 1881.

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In June, construction crews led by National Building Contractors of Conyers began a major exterior renovation project on Oxford College's Seney Hall that is expected to continue until late winter 2012

OXFORD -- One of Oxford College's most recognized buildings is getting a facelift.

In June, construction crews began a major exterior renovation project on Seney Hall that is expected to continue until late winter 2012.

The $1.1 million project, which is being led by contractor National Building Contractors of Conyers, includes structural and roof work.

"Seney Hall is Emory's most distinctive building," said Stephen H. Bowen, dean of Oxford College. "It is important that we preserve and protect this important architectural asset. We take seriously our responsibility for the stewardship of Oxford's historic campus and its role in Emory's history."

Earlier this year, an inspection of the building revealed that rainwater infiltration from leaking gutters on the complicated roof had resulted in damage that could not be seen from the ground. The roof requires structural work, new gutters and replacement of much of the roof's edges.

Additionally, asphalt roof tile that was installed in the '70s is being replaced with slate tiles that are more aesthetic and more authentic to the original Victorian design.

The project also includes the rejuvenation of the red-brick exterior, which had become pitted and discolored over the decades. The bricks with the greatest damage were carefully removed, turned around and then repointed.

Seney Hall was built in 1881 from funds donated to Emory College by George Seney, a Methodist layman from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Seney had read a Thanksgiving sermon delivered by Emory President Atticus Haygood in 1880, in which he called upon his fellow Southerners to be reconciled to the rest of the country and turn toward the creation of a new South. The "New South Sermon," as it came to be called, moved Seney to donate $130,000 to Emory, which was a major donation for the time period. The money paid off the college's debt of $5,000, bolstered its endowment with $75,000 and built Seney Hall at a cost of $50,000.

The hall was last renovated in 1979, when it was outfitted with an elevator, and the vaulted third floor, which once housed the Emory College Library, was subdivided into a fourth floor.

In the spring of 2008, it also was the site of a student prank that left Barcode the zebra locked inside the building on the third floor. The zebra was later rescued by local animal control officials by way of the elevator.