The Smith Education Center, which houses the Corry Higher-Education Council, has recently undergone a renovation that may bespeak more good things to come this year.
Four ground floor offices have been renovated, according to Hi-Ed Executive Director Brody Howard, with the bulk of the work done in December.
The project was planned in the fall and slated for December when programming slows down and there would be fewer interruptions and fewer people around.
Howard said flooring, concrete, dry wall, painting, woodwork and trim were worked on, along with the installation of commercial grade carpeting and a new area designated for communications and technology equipment.
One goal of the improvements is to create space to allow for physical distancing between people, given the prevailing pandemic recommendations.
And, it’s been awhile since the Smith Education Center, 221 N. Center St., has seen any kind of makeover or major improvements.
The building, opened in 1924, was previously the Hotel Corry and purchased by the Hi-Ed Council in 1991.
“It’s been quite some time,” Howard said. “There hasn’t been a major renovation and refurbishment since the early 90s. We’ve upgraded our professional work space, and worked to improve workflow with what space we have.”
An example Howard gave was 8-foot conference tables where people could meet and work that have been replaced with smaller tables and individual work spaces that enable people to remain 6 feet apart.
Howard added this is the first of many renovations he sees for the future of the Smith Education Center. He hopes to refurbish floor by floor and continue upgrading classrooms, additional carpeting, woodwork repairs and painting.
“We want to be able to continue to do what we do — deliver instruction in a safe, reliable and socially distanced way,” Howard said, adding they’re continually trying to creatively innovate ways to work and educate, whether in person or digitally, and adhere to pandemic guidelines.
Howard noted he’s aware of the the building’s place in history.
“A key factor in all this is taking into account the historical perspective,” he said. “We will do the work to improve the building without jeopardizing the historical integrity of it.”
This year marks the Hi-Ed Council’s 30th year in Corry, and Howard said he’s excited for any events the Hi-Ed will do to celebrate with the community. They’re in the planning stages now.
“There’s a lot of planning to do and we’re looking forward to sharing with the community all the things we have to offer,” he said.