Woodbine Cottage improvements hit snag over windows

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

President Peggy Miller fights battles everyday for SDSU, but now she is fighting a battle for her house, Woodbine Cottage.

Woodbine Cottage is listed as a historic home in South Dakota. However, the cottage needs to be upgraded. Miller wants Woodbine to be made safer, handicapped accessible, and more energy efficient.

Also, the windows and siding need to be replaced or repaired said SDSU Vice President Mike Reger.

He said the university plans to do an upgrade, but will work to keep the cottage’s historic value intact.

“The goal is to preserve as much ‘fabric’ as possible,” Reger said.

The renovation of Woodbine Cottage began in October 2002 and some things still need to be worked out.

Right now, the main issue is with the windows. The university is debating with the historical preservation group on what should be done with the windows and how many will be restored.

However, the two groups are close to reaching an agreement on siding issues.

“We still have to finish the conversation, but we will probably replace all of the siding,” Reger said.

Miller said the windows are unsafe. They are old and have difficulties being opened. Some are used a little or not at all because they might fall out.

She also said that they do not keep heat or cold out and temperatures can be very uncomfortable.

The Board of Regents and the State Building Commissioner have already agreed to let the university repair Woodbine Cottage, but Miller is having a hard time getting the Brookings Historical Preservation Committee to agree to the changes the university proposed.

“[It needs to be] upgraded so we can keep it as the historic treasure that it is,” Miller said. “The Brookings Historical Preservation Committee does not have any objection to safety, etc., they just do not want any of the original siding replaced or the windows replaced.”

Miller says the university’s proposal is legitimate.

“These repairs would not the change the appearance of Woodbine; this is not remodelling, only repairs,” Miller said.

Jay Vogt, state historic director, says the group wants SDSU to see that repairing the windows is better than replacing them.

“We are working with SDSU to convince them repairing the windows is the best option,” he said.

However, SDSU disagrees. The university believes that replacing the windows is more efficient and not as costly. Miller said if they repaired the windows, they would take all 69 out and board them up with plywood. That could take up to three months, Reger said.

Also, if the windows are repaired, they may fall apart again in five or six years.

“Replacement is the more economic decision to make,” he said.

To replace some of the windows will cost $6,800. All new windows would cost $100,000. But to repair the windows would be $1700 per window or $170,000 for all windows. The university does want to spend that much money.

“We do not think this is a reasonable use of student money,” Miller said. “I really love Woodbine and have worked very hard to make it welcoming and something in which we can take pride. My hope would be that everyone felt that way, and would work with us so that we would still have it a hundred years from now.”

Reger said that a decision on the windows should be made within the week.