LINDSBORG — Bethany College celebrated the grand opening of its newly renovated Alma Swensson Hall with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday.

The residential hall, which was built in 1949, was previously designed to house 77 women.

“Alma Swensson Hall helped create a lot of first memories for literally thousands of students as they began their educational and social journey at Bethany College,” Bethany College Board of Directors Chair Corey Peterson said.

The hall was named for Alma Lind Swensson, a Swedish immigrant who came to Lindsborg in 1880 and became the wife of Carl Swensson, the founder of Bethany College.

“She established the first ‘Messiah’ chorus and this past April we enjoyed the 137th annual performance — the longest-running annual performance in North America,” said Bethany College President Will Jones.

With its $2.5 million renovation, Swensson Hall can now hold 95 students, with a separate bathroom for each three-person room.

“It’s quite a different hall than it was three years ago,” Jones said.

Central air conditioning and an elevator have been added to the building, along with new electrical wiring and plumbing.

Nick Penner of Crossland Construction Co., the firm that completed the renovations, said they were also able to put a new roof on Swensson Hall and add paving around it.

“It think it was a great project,” Penner said.

GLMV Architecture drew up the renovation plans for Alma Swensson Hall, which were made possible by a gift from the estate of David Nutt and other donations.

“Thank God, again, for Mr. Nutt and his generosity,” Jones said.

Jones said Bethany College’’s enrollment is growing. This fall 780 students are coming to campus, up from 709 in 2017 and 611 in 2016.

“We expect another record freshman class,” Jones said. “We expect (Alma Swensson Hall) to open full — 95 beds full. That is incredible.”

The college hopes to attract even more students in the future.

“Our vision here at Bethany College is to have Bethany to be celebrated in the Midwest, and in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for offering inspired learning and informed faith that leads to student success and community transformation,” Jones said. “I’m confident that a renovated Alma Swensson Hall is a very helpful step in achieving this vision.”

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.