Friends University President Dr. T.J. Arant today announced plans for expansion of the university’s footprint into the Delano Historic District.
“We are happy to announce a $3.5 million project that will include the renovation of a beautiful historic building on West Douglas,” Dr. Arant said. “You can’t build a historic building, but you can save one. Our hope is that we will be able to turn this beautiful building into a destination attracting our students and the community.”
The university has purchased the two-story commercial building at 930 West Douglas, as well as a warehouse at 122 N. Walnut.
“With the addition of these of two buildings, we will significantly expand our art department just one mile from the main Friends University campus,” Dr. Arant said.
The Douglas building was constructed in 1911 for the Farmer’s State Bank and the Independent Order of Oddfellows. The historic building, and a warehouse adjacent to it at 122 N. Walnut, will both be repurposed for the Friends University art department.
Dr. Arant said the building on West Douglas will include a main floor art gallery, offices and a large lecture hall. The second floor will be devoted to an art studio/instruction area. The warehouse adjacent to this property will be used primarily for larger ceramic and sculpture projects, as well as storage space. The buildings will hopefully be ready for occupancy by the 2013 fall semester.
Friends University has been searching for a way to expand space for fine arts instruction, Dr. Arant said.
“During the past five years, our administrators and board have consistently identified this department as a high priority. Our students have continued to endure a cramped space, and we appreciate their patience. Today, we are happy to announce that we have found an exciting solution to our space issues.”
By moving the art department into a historic building in the Delano business district, Friends University will accomplish several goals:
Dr. Arant said the benefits extend beyond those that will enhance the student experience.
“In addition to the benefits students will realize with this move, Friends University will have an opportunity to expand its footprint into the Delano Historic District. This is an area that is important to the life and vitality of Wichita, so we are pleased to be able to participate more fully in Final Friday art shows, as well as other neighborhood events,” he said.
Rod Pitts, chairman of the Friends University Board of Trustees and division director of consumer banking at INTRUST Bank, said the project fits well with the university’s plans for the future.
“The board and Dr. Arant have set a priority to foster and expand our presence in the community,” Pitts said. “The proximity of Delano to our campus and the opportunity for our art students to be part of the Delano business district makes this a natural fit. We see this as a great opportunity to invest in our students and our surrounding community and build an art program with a strong, regional draw.”