UCA hosts event marking re-opening of Mirror Room

The University of Central Arkansas hosted a grand re-opening Aug. 18 for the Mirror Room in McAlister Hall.

The university received a $250,000 grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council to renovate the space.

As part of the renovation, the Mirror Room now has a landing area at the east entrance to the room. From the landing, stairs featuring new railings with arched balusters, echoing the arch-shaped design of the mirrors, descend into the room. Other renovations include new fan coil units for heating and cooling of the room, accessible doors at the west entrance, new roofing, new pointing of brick mortar to repair weathered joints, new paint and carpet, and interior plaster repairs necessitated by years of water damage, as well as new wood windows that meet the National Register of Historic Places standards.

ANCRC was established by the state Legislature in 1987 to manage and supervise a grants and trust fund for the acquisition, management and stewardship of state-owned properties acquired or used for ANCRC approved purposes. The grants are funded through the state’s real estate transfer tax and are for projects that protect and maintain state-owned natural areas, historic sites and outdoor recreation.

The room is called the Mirror Room because it features four floor-to-ceiling arched mirrors along the lateral walls, reminiscent of those found at the famous Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in France.

“Visitors to the room will find the repetition of arched-shaped mirrors, windows, doors and railings visually pleasing,” said Dr. Gayle Seymour, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication and co-author of the renovation grant along with KC Poole, instructor of Interior Design. “Our lead architect on the project, Randy Stocks (Stocks-Mann Architects), did a wonderful job of freshening and revitalizing the cherished-though-tired room while preserving the historic charm.”

The Mirror Room, located in McAlister Hall, was once used as a formal reception room for the campus. Freshmen students were required to attend a formal welcome ceremony there where they were greeted by their ball gown- and tuxedo-clad professors. Completed in January 1934 as a women’s residence hall and named for Col. H.L. McAlister, president of UCA from 1930-1941, McAlister Hall became a classroom building in the 1960s and after a renovation in 1990, it currently houses the Schedler Honors College and part of the Department of Art and the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.

McAlister Hall is one of eight campus buildings comprising UCA’s Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The other locations are Old Main/Ida Waldran Auditorium, Harrin Hall, Wingo Hall, the President’s House, McCastlain Hall, Bernard Hall and Ferguson Memorial Chapel.