Historic Henry Hall demolished to pave way for progress

Published 10:00 am Friday, July 21, 2023

By: Olivia Johnson

As the demolition of LaGrange College’s Henry Hall is underway, the plot’s future where it once stood aims to be a positive change for the school.

Jerry Forster, vice president of finance and operations, said demolition of the 50 years old former residence hall initially started in the spring.

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“The style of the building was outdated from the standpoint of how rooms were arranged and the condition of the building was deteriorating. So, we had two options — either renovate it and get it back up to speed or take it down,” Forster said. “After deliberation, we decided to take it down. The demolition work should be done next month.”

Forster said there have been many discussions about what should replace Henry Hall once it has been demolished.

“We like many colleges and universities during COVID, had over a 20% drop in the number of students that are on campus today as compared to three years ago. We have a small junior and senior class because they were small classes when they started back in 2021. They’ll work their way through the cycle of classes, and we hope to rebound in the next year or two,” Forster said.

“We have a period — this year for example, where we don’t need the 150 additional beds in Henry Hall that are now gone. We hope in a year or two that we may either build townhomes and work with the planning and zoning committee for the city of Lagrange or renovate an existing building on campus called Manget.”

Forster said taking on this new project has brought many mixed emotions from the Alumni Board of Trustees and the community.

“In the spring we invited Alumni Board of Trustee members and community members to come and say goodbye to Henry Hall. Those who lived there over the 50 years had great stories to share and memories that were positive, but all agreed that as they think about today’s housing and the condition of Henry Hall and this type of construction of Henry Hall, there are better options available today,” Forster said.

“It’s been celebrated, but its time had come and it was time to bring it down. Whether we renovate Manget or build townhomes in the future. There are better styles of housing, especially for our upperclassmen and graduate students that we need to offer.”