Lawn work: Freshened fireplaces improve home on the Range

Bright blue tarps, scaffolds, and the sounds of heavy machinery meet the eyes and ears of passersby ambling down the sidewalk running parallel to the Range rooms at the University of Virginia, where chimney repairs are well underway this summer.

“If you go by the Range right now, you’ll see there are tons of repairs being done,” says Cliff Cutchins, UVA graduate student and chair for a governing body called The Range Council.

University officials deemed the chimneys in the Range and in the better-known Lawn rooms temporarily unsafe last August, after inspectors identified myriad potential hazards, including problems with the flues, steel and concrete liners, mortar, fireboxes, and dampers. Officials budgeted the necessary repairs at about $35,000 per room, with an overall project estimate hovering around $3.7 million to complete repairs on the 61 chimneys and 105 flues, in addition to installing a modern fire suppression system by the targeted completion date in November right when students will start hankering for the cozy warmth of their fireplaces. Private donations and state maintenance funds have and will continue to cover the project.

Unlike Lawnies, Range residents are all graduate students. And Frank Cirillo, a Range resident who's earning his Ph.D. in history, explains that the initial ban wasn’t necessarily inconvenient, but definitely disappointing since he had applied to live on the Range expecting this staple amenity after talking with a previous resident.

“He went on at length about how great it was to have a fireplace to sit by in the winter," says Cirillo. "So I was definitely excited for that and was a bit annoyed when I found out that I wouldn’t be able to use it."

Cutchins echoes this sentiment, but explains that residents are very excited now that repairs are underway.

“This is something that we’ve wanted for almost a year now,” says Cutchins.

University officials released a statement explaining that Facility Management crews, contractors and subcontractors would be working in Range and Lawn rooms over the summer months while the rooms were largely unoccupied to install sprinkler heads in each room and fire suppression systems in the attics. Cutchins and the handful of other residents remaining in the rooms over the summer endured only a few minor communication breakdowns.

“We were displaced from our Range rooms at the start of July and were told at the start it would be only for 7 to 10 days total,” Cutchin recalls. “Numerous delays occurred, and each time we readied our belongings to move back to the Range we were stymied with a sudden notification that it would be another week.” 

He explains that 7-10 days turned into a full month fairly quickly, but that eventually residents were allowed to move back into their rooms earlier this week.

Cutchins adds that generally the residents really appreciate the efforts on behalf of the administration to make these renovations a priority, especially since he has been assured that the administration will be more responsive in the coming months.

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" Officials budgeted the necessary repairs at about $35,000 per room, with an overall project estimate hovering around $3.7 million to complete . ".

35k per room for repairs - WOW !

I'm glad TJ and I can now roast chestnuts and marshmellows together! Hot Dog!

Interested to see how long it takes for it to burn to the ground. A fireplace is not a necessity in ANY college dorm room no matter how pretentious you may be. Better put in a line direct to the fire department on the "lawn"... so lame.

So that's what Ph.D. candidates in history discuss at length: how nice it is to have a fireplace to sit by in the winter. Pretty lofty stuff!
@voltron...The $35k for the repairs includes fire suppression systems, so the little people who do not live in the real world will not have to worry about setting the Range ablaze.

R.I.P.: Joseph Rizzo

yeah, we'll see