A burst water line in Agricultural Hall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln over the weekend caused officials to close the building early for the Thanksgiving break.

Sunday, a fitting on the chilled water running through the attic of the 113-year-old East Campus building rusted trhough, releasing a cascade of water that flooded each floor down to the crawlspace.

Ceiling tiles, drywall and carpet, particularly in the northwest corner of the building, were soaked through and the building's fire barrier was damaged, according to Mike Boehm, vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

No injuries were reported, nor was there any damage to Ag Hall's structure or any equipment inside, a university spokeswoman said.

UNL facilities staff managed to shut off the water late Sunday afternoon and worked through most of the night to contain the damage, Boehm wrote in an email to staff Monday.

"The Fire Marshal has given us an assessment of the damage and due to the fire barrier located in the attic, much repair is needed to several layers of drywall that has been saturated," Boehm wrote.

Part of the repairs include asbestos abatement, which forced UNL to close the entire building Monday afternoon ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which begins Wednesday for university staff.

About 25 employees housed in Ag Hall were displaced and given the option of using vacation time, or working from another building on campus or from home while cleanup and repairs take place.

No estimate on the costs to repair the damage was available Tuesday, but a spokeswoman said Ag Hall is expected to reopen Monday, when students, faculty and staff return to campus for the final weeks of the fall semester, and be back to normal by Dec. 1.

Ag Hall was planned as a classroom building to anchor the southeast corner of East Campus. Construction on the $60,000 building began in June 1904 and concluded May 29, 1905, according to UNL records.

Capital City Brick and Pipe of Des Moines, Iowa, used Omaha gray-pressed brick, limestone and terra cotta trimmings to build Ag Hall. The building, including its slate roof, remains largely unchanged over the last century.

Until the 1960s, it housed the library materials from the Agriculture Experiment Station building, when the C.Y. Thompson Library was completed.

The building now houses the administrative offices of UNL's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.


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