Wilkes University Restoration

It’s no small wonder that Michelini Hall, located on the campus of Wilkes University, was rescued from nearly being destroyed. The building is named for Francis J. Michelini, who was the university’s president from 1970-1975. He was responsible for the school’s recovery efforts after the devastating tropical storm Agnes (and resultant floodwaters) swept through Wilkes-Barre in 1972. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, many local residents were stranded, but Michelini courageously commandeered a boat from the environmental science program to rescue them. Next, he turned his attention to salvaging the university, which had sustained catastrophic damage, and worked with others to rebuild the school.

Michelini’s legacy of resilience is a fitting tribute for the building that now bears his name. Formerly known as Barre Hall, the space had been vacant for many years prior to being restored by Ferrario Real Estate Development. Before restoration, the property was on the brink of being torn down due to disrepair. Fortunately, the university was dedicated to giving the place a much-needed remodel before it was too late. The building’s charming setting made the site worthy of a renovation that would commemorate its history, and we were honored to be a part of its preservation.

From start to finish, our goal was to create an exceptional living experience for students that would exceed their expectations for on-campus housing, while maintaining the property’s historic heritage. With that in mind, we created an attractive, modern interior, while taking care to keep the historical integrity of the brick-home exterior. Although the renovation process revealed structural issues, as well as other significant challenges, our team was proud to finish on-time and on-budget. The apartment-style housing now boasts stunning granite countertops, air-conditioning, on-site laundry, and a comfortable student lounge. It continues to be a sought-after residence for students, and is a showpiece for the school’s housing facilities.

There’s no doubt that this property shares a few special qualities with its extraordinary namesake. For example, after the 1972 flood, Michelini and other Wilkes administrators were tasked with deciding whether or not the school would reopen following the unprecedented disaster. Determined not to give up, Michelini helmed a recovery effort that included help from the community and they succeeded in restoring the university. We think that same spirit of resilience is now on display in Michelini Hall—a building that was nearly ruined, but it turns out was just a diamond in the rough, right here in coal country.