Luhr Building Reopens, Continuing Webster-Eden Partnership

| April 7, 2015
Ribbon cutting

Webster University President Stroble and Eden Theological Seminary President Greenhaw cut the ribbon at the Luhr Building opening on April 6.

Provost Schuster, trustee Ed XX, President Stroble, Eden President Greenhaw, trustee Jane Robert, Ken Freeman.

Provost Schuster, trustee Ed Glotzbach, President Stroble, Eden President Greenhaw, trustee Jane Robert and CIO Ken Freeman.

The Luhr Building in Webster Groves has reopened. After being empty since 2010, the building is the new home to Webster University’s Information Technology department and the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE), which hosts the University’s national-champion chess team.

Both IT and SPICE moved into the building this spring. A formal re-opening event was held Monday, April 6.

Webster University President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble, Provost Julian Z. Schuster, members of the Board of Trustees and Eden Theological Seminary President David Greenhaw welcomed Webster community members at the reopening ceremony.

“Today we are continuing the Luhr Building’s original mission of education,” Stroble said. “There are many people who we need to thank: those colleagues who helped strengthen our partnership with Eden both academically and operationally; individuals who collaborated on the library system agreement; those who managed the terms of the purchase and the facilities renovation; and the many people throughout the community who supported us as we made our plans a reality.”

The building originally was Eden Theological Seminary’s main library. Construction of the 36,000 square-foot building started in 1967 and was completed one year later at a cost of approximately $1.2 million.

In 1969, Webster University and Eden Theological Seminary agreed to share the library. Webster University moved its library collection to the building in the fall of 1969, adding to Eden’s 50,000 volume collection. For the next 34 years, students from both institutions used the building.

Chess team members at Luhr Building opening

Susan Polgar introduced chess team members, who now call the Luhr Building their Webster home outside the classroom.

Eventually, the book collection outgrew the space. In 2003, Webster University opened the Emerson Library and today the holdings are distributed between Emerson Library and Eden’s Luhr Reading Room in its administration building. Today, Eden and Webster continue to share the Emerson Library space.

Webster University purchased the building from Eden Theological Seminary in 2010. Initially, Webster proposed to convert the space into a much-needed science building, but members of the community expressed concerns that the use could cause traffic and parking issues. The City Plan Commission requested that Webster University update its master plan to reflect the use of Luhr. Webster updated its master plan and proposed using the building for the chess team and IT. That use was approved by the City Council last year.

“Today, we are able to preserve a genuine piece of Webster Groves’ history, a structure that reflects the gothic Revival style of Webster University’s and Eden Seminary’s campuses,  while also completing another major step in the vision set forth in the University’s master plan,” Schuster said. “This isn’t just the opening of a building. Rather it is a celebration of the long collaboration with Eden Seminary that is rooted in our academic strengths.”

The basement of the Luhr Building will house workshops where IT employees will repair computers and storage rooms for documents and surplus items. The second floor will be used as IT’s office space and main technical call center. Before this space was made available, IT was split between two locations – in the basement of Webster Hall and in a building on Rock Road in Webster Groves.

The main floor of the building will be home to SPICE. The team will use it as a practice space and for team meetings. The space also will occasionally be used to host chess tournaments. The SPICE program previously was located into a small classroom in the Sverdrup Building on Webster’s home campus. Tournaments often had to be held in auditoriums or in leased spaces.

The Chess team has won the national collegiate chess championship – The President’s Cup – for the past three years. The SPICE program also annually hosts the Susan Polgar Girls’ Invitational in St. Louis, a summer camp for children and the SPICE Cup tournament.

The formal re-opening event was rescheduled from Feb. 16, when it was postponed due to inclement weather.

View more photos from the event at the University’s Facebook page.

Crowd in attendance

Provost Schuster speaks to the crowd inside the Luhr Building for the opening event.

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Category: St. Louis Campus News, Webster News

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