House Bill 1051 is a simple appropriations measure, authorizing the construction of a bunch of new projects on our state campuses. But it also authorizes knocking down several buildings to make way for progress.
Among the edifices (I want to say edifi as much as I wanted to say campi above!) facing the wrecking ball is Lowry Hall on the Dakota State University campus. Lowry is arguably the most dismal building on campus. Built as a 70-man dormitory in 1958, it now houses two floors of offices along two skinny hallways. There are more cramped quarters in East and Beadle Halls, but those buildings at least have character (and, in East's case, bats!). Lowry Hall will not be missed... but hey! You guys with the wrecking ball! Be careful not to back into the sculpture of General Beadle!
To be missed slightly more by this author will be South Dakota State University's Grove Hall, whose demolition HB 1051 will also fund. Like Lowry, the building offers little architectural interest. But the many classes I had in that building included the honors Intro to Philosophy class, which I took during my senior year at SDSU. I spent forty hours in the fall of 1993 sitting in the north classroom of Grove, listening to Dr. David Nelson say "Bullshit!" with more gusto and frequency than any other professor I've had. When not rapt in Dr. Nelson's challenges, I was happily flirting with the very pretty girls who sat on either side of me.
My wife was in that Grove Hall classroom as well, enjoying Dr. Nelson's wisdom but not my flirtations. She was my future wife then, a concept that would have boggled both of those youngsters. We didn't even speak to each other that semester. But there we were, together in the same room, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 11:30 to 12:20, just a few desks apart in Grove Hall.
Seven years later, we got reintroduced. Eight years later, we got hitched. Dr. Nelson read at our wedding ceremony. He did not say bullshit. He did say delicious, just once, with gusto.
The loss of that room and Grove Hall will not grieve us much. Our delicious love fills many other rooms now. But it does leave us with one more story fixed only on the map of memory and not in solid walls still faintly resonant with questions about Socrates, Bishop Berkeley, and Black Elk.
...and it reminds me I should go easy on Lowry as well. It and all the other buildings on the HB 1051 demolition list surely have their own old inhabitants with their own stories of undergraduate romance and adventure.