Keuka College officials are relocating arts and ASL classes, and the Office of Human Resources after a Jan. 1 water pipe break damaged Allen Hall on the College campus.

The damage occurred late in the evening on Jan. 1 when a water pipe connected to the fire suppression system on the third floor of the building ruptured. Campus safety, facilities, the Branchport/Keuka Park Fire Department, NYSEG, and Town of Jerusalem water officials responded to the scene quickly and turned the water off. 

The building was unoccupied at the time of the incident. Students are off campus through Feb. 5 for winter break.

Allen Hall – which houses the College’s Art & Design program, American Sign Language (ASL) classroom and language laboratory, and Office of Human Resources – sustained heavy damage and is currently uninhabitable. Ceilings collapsed, electrical systems were damaged, and equipment was destroyed.

“While brick and mortar can be replaced, so much of what was lost is irreplaceable. My heart aches for our Art & Design students and faculty, and I want you to know that the entire College community will do everything it can to ensure this devastation does not ruin the spirit of our treasured artists,” College President Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera wrote in a message updating the Keuka College community.

He likewise commiserated with ASL students and faculty, and HR personnel, commiting the College’s resources toward bouncing back from the damage.

“The Keuka College community has risen above when faced with tragedy so many times in our history,” Díaz-Herrera writes, “and I know this time will be no different.”

Keuka is working with a professional document restoration and recovery company on everything from business documents to student artwork. Recovery efforts are already underway, and more will be known about what is salvageable by the middle of next week.

The Town of Jerusalem Code Enforcement Officer/Building Inspector has determined that although the building is structurally sound and not at risk of falling, the amount of debris and damage presents a health and safety risk.

“The health and safety of the Keuka College family is paramount,” Díaz-Herrera writes, “and while we recognize the painful loss that this incident represents to many members of the Keuka College community, we can only allow certified professionals to enter the building.”

Over the past two years, Keuka has spent a significant amount of time fundraising and designing a new Center for Art & Design in Hegeman Hall. The Center will occupy the lake side of the fourth floor currently used by the Office of the President and the Office of Academic Affairs.

“While we were planning to move Art & Design to Hegeman Hall beginning in the Fall of 2018,” Díaz-Herrera writes, “our timeline has been accelerated and the Art & Design program will occupy this space in temporary facilities beginning in February. Construction will begin to convert this space to align with the College’s vision for the Center in May after classes have concluded.”

The Office of Human Resources will move, at least temporarily, to Keuka Commons within the next few weeks, and the Office of Academic Affairs is working on identifying a solution for the ASL language laboratory.