Historic Restoration

Kennedy Museum of Art, Ohio University

In the early 1990s, Geiger Brothers completed the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and plumbing renovations to the Kennedy Museum of Art for Ohio University in Athens.

Geiger Brothers successfully installed a state-of-the-art HVAC system complete with direct digital controls while maintaining the historic look and feel of the museum. All equipment installed allowed the museum to maintain its historical significance.

The museum is housed in Lin Hall, the former administration building of the Athens Mental Health Center and located on “The Ridges” area that overlooks the main campus and the city of Athens.

Ohio University took over the facility in 1988. The Board of Trustees established the Kennedy Museum of Art in 1991, and it opened to the public in 1996 following a $4.5 million renovation to the 19th century facility.

The 135-year-old structure was completed in 1874 and is listed on the National Historic Register. The design links to Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride, a 19th century physician who authored a treatise on asylum design and function in 1854. Kirkbride buildings are most recognizably characterized by their somewhat unique "bat wing" floor plan and their Victorian-era architecture.

By the end of the 20th century most Kirkbride buildings had been completely abandoned or demolished. A few managed to survive and are still in use. Ohio University’s renovation of the former Athens Mental Health Center is considered one of the most successful of a Kirkbride building. It now houses one of the finest cultural institutions in the region.