When Buildings Die.

Yesterday, my alma mater tore down my favorite building on campus to make way for another multi-million dollar glassy modern building.

My favorite classroom was the top floor, furthest right. Nearly all windows.

I cried a little.

My major, my academic advisor, and some of my favorite classes were housed in this building, including my capstone thesis class. It was held on the top floor, and in late April and early May, the antiquated rooms sans a/c could become an oven of historical theory and literary study. It could also put you to sleep.

Then someone would take the initiative to go around and open the windows that went around 3/4 of the room, and a light breeze would swing in down the Salt Lake foothills and carry the hot air out the window and deposit our misery in the West Desert.  The adobe roof tiles reflected the heat away and, all things considered, the building did alright without modern air.

It also had the most charming women's bathrooms you've ever seen- down in the basement. I believe most of it was original to the 1938 construction.  If the U were Hogwarts, this is where Moaning Myrtle would have lived, among the sea-green tiles and cherry wood trim.

It was the U's first and only all-female dormitory, and one of the first of its kind in the west.  It was simple, and beautiful, and the perfect gateway to campus.  Last year, it was quietly removed from the National Register of Historic Places by the powers that be, and its demise was planned.

It was a total coincidence that I happened to be there the day she died. Or maybe it wasn't. I haven't decided, yet.

Carlson Hall represented everything I ever loved about my college education (not to be confused with my college experience, which is sort of another animal altogether). The building-- like my major, my ambitions, my all-consuming academic pursuits-- were charming, but neither popular nor practical, and don't seem very useful to most people. She would not have been the place where cancer would be cured, or where the next Microsoft would start, but her space was pure and safe for the explorers, the orators, the diggers. She was built in the heart of the great depression; I like to think as a sign of hope. And hope she gave.  

I stopped and asked a construction guy if I could have a brick, and he said the Law School would be saving some for distribution. "You're not the first to ask, that's for sure."

It's tragic that the building is gone. But I can reconcile her departure a little better when I think of the whole of her going away brick by brick with the people who loved her.

Brick in hand or not, she gave a piece of herself away every day for 75 years. I'd like to be a little more like that.  

Carlson Hall, 1940

Carlson Hall, 1940


garitd . said…
I am fascinated by this.

Popular Posts