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Regents approve demolition of Thomas, Putnam residence halls

| Gary Johnson

Photo caption: Putnam Hall (show above) and Katharine Thomas Hall will be razed to prepare the site of UW-Eau Claire's new Science and Health Sciences building. The UW System Board of Regents approved the demolition on Friday; the State Building Commission must give final approval. (Photo by Bill Hoepner)

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Friday authorized demolition of two UW-Eau Claire residence halls to prepare the site for the new Science and Health Sciences Building.

The Regents, at their monthly meeting at UW-Stevens Point, approved razing of Katharine Thomas and Putnam halls at an estimated cost of $1,684,800. Final approval for the demolition is needed from the State Building Commission. The halls, which opened in 1951 and 1954, respectively, have served as isolation and quarantine spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The loss of these two halls is more than offset by the new Suites residence hall that opened in 2019 and public-private partnerships for university housing at Aspenson Mogensen Hall and Haymarket Landing.

Demolition is scheduled to begin this summer and be substantially completed in the fall.

The new science building will replace 60-year-old Phillips Hall and house UW-Eau Claire’s biology, chemistry and biochemistry, computer science, geography and anthropology, geology, materials science and biomedical engineering, physics and astronomy, and psychology programs. New nursing simulation laboratories and new Mayo Clinic Health System research laboratory spaces also will be in the building.

The total cost of the new science building and demolishing Phillips Hall is $256 million.

The first phase of the project was enumerated in the 2019-21 biennial state budget and totaled $109 million. The second phase of funding totaling $147 million still must be approved in a state budget before construction can begin.