Preserving the 100-year-old heritage of a 21st-century facility.
Although it includes 30,000 square feet of new construction, the history and heart of the Weitz Center for Creativity reside in the building which previously served Northfield as both High School and Middle School, located on Union Street just south of Nutting House. The vacant building was purchased by Carleton in early 2005.
Plans for the Weitz Center called for the renovation and re-use of the original 1910 building in its entirety, preserving much of its history and unique architectural features. The College took great care in selecting an architect with special expertise in adapting old buildings to new purposes.
The building exterior on the Union Street side remains largely unchanged, turning a familiar face to the Northfield community. On the inside, creative repurposing helps the space retain its historic character, showcasing the high ceilings, fine old woodwork and doors, and slate blackboards from the original middle-school classrooms.
Building additions dating from 1934 and 1954 were also repurposed where practical, although less architecturally significant portions—including a dilapidated cafeteria—were demolished to make way for new construction of the teaching museum and atrium.
Here are some ways the new facility revives the old spaces:
- The 1934 auditorium is reconfigured as the new cinema.
- The middle-school library becomes meeting and gathering space that can accommodate lectures, small performances, and temporary exhibits.
- The 1954 gymnasium is transformed into a new performance theater complete with costume shop, set design facilities, rehearsal space and green room.
- Many classrooms remain, renovated and updated with 21st-century technology.
- Wooden bleachers from the old gym are reused as wall paneling.
- Wooden seats from the 1934 auditorium become a ceiling-mounted sculpture in the new cinema entrance.
Many exhibits, performances, and movie screenings in these new spaces are free and open to the public. We welcome our Northfield neighbors inside to discover how the historic building they remember have been preserved and honored in its new incarnation.