Northrup: History in the re-making

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Bree Adams – For the Review. This mysterious building, hidden by trees next to Melrose Hall, wasn’t always lurking in the shadows. Until six years ago, Northup Hall was a bustling part of the Linfield campus.
Linfield’s library was located in Pioneer Hall until Northup opened in 1936. It was designed by Pietro Beluschi, a Portland architect who designed several Oregon college libraries, including Willamette University’s. Northup was expanded in 1962 to more than double its size to accommodate the volumes of books added to its collection throughout the decades.
Library director Susan Barnes Whyte worked in Northup Library from 1990 until its close.
“Northup was a lovely, old building,” Whyte said. “It had hints of a past graciousness with tall ceilings, wood finishing and fireplaces.”
However, these features weren’t sufficient. By 1998, plans were underway for an entirely new library, as the books were crammed too tightly on their shelves and collections were divided between the building’s two floors in an unorganized, inefficient way.
The building’s physical condition was also questionable.
“The electrical infrastructure of the building couldn’t support the technology required for a modern library,” Dan Fiedler, associate director of facilities, said.
Nicholson Library opened in 2003.
“Northup was a library for books, not a library for people and their work,” Whyte said. “Nicholson is able to serve both important functions as a library for today’s students. I miss the location of Northup, but I must confess that I do not miss the building.”
Today, Northup is used as a storage space for various departments. Dramatic plans, however, are in store for its future. An $11 million remodeling project has been put together, designed by Portland’s SRG Partnership, a company with experience in “green” buildings and LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification.
The new building will hold the English, philosophy, economics and business departments.
“Moving the departments into Northup together will foster interdisciplinary collaboration,” Fiedler said.
The interior will have a new, modernized floor plan with nine classrooms, two computer labs and a writing lab. New heating and air-conditioning systems will be installed, asbestos removed and new, sufficient wiring put in place. The exterior windows and roof will be replaced and the walls strengthened, but the classic brickwork will remain.
The project is registered with the United States Green Building Council, which will ensure that all renovations are completed to LEED Silver standards and certification.
“The building will be modernized to support the needs of the 21st-century learning environment,” Fiedler said. “There will be increases in open learning spaces, natural light and improved energy efficiencies, as well as aesthetic improvements inside and outside from the quad.”
Only $3 million has been pledged to the renovation so far, but once adequate funds are raised, the Northup project is estimated to take about a year to complete, Fiedler said.
Northup’s face-lift is only the beginning of a larger campus renovation involving a new science building to replace Mac Hall, a remodel of Taylor and Graf halls and a new health education and fitness center between the Health, Human Performance and Athletics building and Memorial Hall.
“Anything past Northup Hall is years in the future,” Fiedler said. “We need to get the first building done, and fundraising is challenging in the current economy.”
However, hopes are high for Linfield’s modernizing transition.
“Even in this Web 2.0 age, space and buildings make a difference at Linfield, for students and faculty,” Whyte said. “The entire Keck campus: The music, art, theater and communication arts departments all can attest to the significance of place at a liberal arts college.”
For more information on Northup Library and its coming renovations, visit