Polk State College has completed a number of renovations at its Polk State Lake Wales Arts Center — including an unexpected roofing repair that has made the building stronger than ever before in its more than 80-year history.
In late 2011, the College and the Lake Wales Arts Council announced an innovative collaboration that involved the College accepting title to the Lake Wales Arts Center, which was built in 1927.
In exchange, the College agreed to renovate and maintain the facility, which has since been renamed the Polk State Lake Wales Arts Center.
Those renovations, meant to enhance the building’s structural integrity and functionality without altering the historic character, began last summer and will be finished this month.
“From the moment the College accepted this building, we have maintained an unwavering commitment to two things: carefully preserving the building, which is truly an iconic treasure for Lake Wales; and providing residents of the area with an exciting place to learn and to experience the arts. I am proud to say that the renovations and repairs we’ve made to the building have achieved both of these goals. Now we’re proud to share the results with our community,” said Polk State Winter Haven Provost Sharon Miller.
Earlier this year, the College centered its focus repairing the rotunda of the building’s sanctuary, a project that proved more involved than originally anticipated.
Initially, the College expected to simply replace roofing tiles on the rotunda. As the project got under way, however, it became clear that the roof needed new structural supports as well.
“After further investigation, we found that the structure had the possibility of collapsing,” said Robbie Manikis, planning and construction project engineer for Polk State Winter Haven.
Manikis said when the building was originally built, its rotunda was supported by wooden beams.
“Over time, the wood deteriorated from the weight of the roof. You could visually see that the roof was sagging,” Manikis said.
A new steel structural system was installed to reinforce the roof in mid-February, and new roofing tiles were installed immediately afterward.
“The building should stand nice and tall for decades to come,” Manikis said.
Among the work that has been completed:
- Two classrooms have received cosmetic upgrades, including new flooring and paint, and modern instructional technology.
- Restrooms have been remodeled to meet code requirements and have received upgraded finishes.
- A student seating area has been created in the lobby of the building.
- The exterior of the building has been repainted and a grassy courtyard space has been finished with pavers and outdoor seating.
- A waterproofing barrier has been installed around the exterior of the basement.
- Stained-glass windows have been rebuilt and protected behind a layer of hurricane-rated glass.
- All broken sidewalks and handrails have been repaired.
- Upgraded signage and landscaping has been installed.
The Polk State College Lake Wales Arts Center is located at 1099 State Road 60 East.
In addition to the Polk State College Lake Wales Arts Center, Polk State offers classes in downtown Lake Wales at the Polk State JD Alexander Center, as well as at campuses and centers in Lakeland and Winter Haven.