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End of an era: South campus residence halls demolished

Building being demolished

Demolition of the south campus residence halls continues.

The University’s landscape changed markedly during the spring semester with the ongoing removal of Atkin-Colby and Hamilton-Whitten residence halls, as well as the attached Feeney Dining Center.

Demolition of the south campus complex began last fall with removal of asbestos. Feeney was removed by the end of February. The remainder of the work is expected to be completed by the end of June.

The buildings were envisioned in the 1950s as a means to accommodate ISU’s increasing student enrollment. Hamilton-Whitten opened in 1960, with Atkin-Colby completed in 1962. The project cost $8.1 million and honored respected Illinois State teachers.

Alma Mary Hamilton earned ISU’s first bachelor’s degree and taught at University High School. Jennie Whitten was an instructor of foreign language and became chair of that department.

Edith Irene Atkins was an instructor and chair of mathematics. June Rose Colby joined the faculty in 1878 and taught classical literature.

The food center was named after Mae Warren Feeney, who was the assistant dean of women and residence hall director in 1936 before joining U-High staff.

The complex closed in 2012 when the building no longer met revised state fire sprinkler codes. Renovation costs were prohibitive given the age of the buildings, which have sat vacant.

A large wrecking ball was used to take down the 10-story buildings that once housed about 1,500 students. Landscaping will be added in the space that is expected to be the eventual home of a Mennonite College of Nursing building. The Town of Normal plans to construct a fire station just south of the site.

No timeline has been set for construction of the nursing facility, which has been on the University’s capital improvements request list for several years as a way to consolidate the nursing program. Classes are now offered in Edwards Hall, with a separate simulation laboratory located north of Bone Student Center.

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