LaGrange College invites community to say goodbye to Henry Hall

Published 9:30 am Friday, March 17, 2023

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LaGrange College is inviting the community to say farewell to Henry Hall before the building’s removal this summer.

Henry Hall, once named “New Dorm,” was built in 1970. Renovations to the building would cost nearly as much as building a brand-new structure, according to the college, so Henry will be torn down.

The five-story co-ed building had air conditioning, carpeted bedrooms, phone jacks and a master antenna going to each room.

In 1980, LaGrange College named the residential building after Dr. Waights G. Henry Jr., who served as president of the college for 30 years and as chancellor from 1978 until his death in 1989.

The facility would house generations of students until its closure in 2021, but even without it, the college was able to meet its housing demand. Since its closure, the former dormitory was used for storage.

“Our student population dropped during COVID, so we have been able to meet housing demand,” Dean Hartman, Senior Director of Communications and Marketing said. “As we move ahead, we will need to address the need for more housing, sooner rather than later.”

LaGrange College is in the process of updating its master plan and has been working with an architectural firm to assess the existing condition and functionality of facilities, including Henry Hall.

After a thorough examination, it was decided that the 50-year residence hall would be slated for removal this summer.

“Unfortunately, Henry Hall could no longer be adapted for the future needs of our growing student population,” said Dr. John Head, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Experience. “The building’s renovation, including new electrical, water and HVAC systems, would have cost nearly the amount of a new structure.”

At the news of Henry Hall’s removal, Hartman said current students are excited about the prospect of new housing. However, alumni are a bit sad about saying farewell to the dormitory.

At the time of publishing, many options are being discussed for the space and how to meet future the residential needs of an expanding student population.

“For the immediate future, it will be green space,” Hartman said. “The college is currently working through a master planning process, and it will identify the best options. Some have suggested an outdoor classroom.”

As the farewell for Henry Hall draws near, LaGrange College alumni have been sharing stories from their time in the dormitory. The college published some of those stories in an article on its website this week.

Alum George Wheelock, class of 1975, said he lived in Henry Hall for the last three years of his time at the college.

“Room 103 was my home. Being on the first floor was a definite advantage because only the west side of the building had rooms,” Wheelock said. “To keep us in order was our ‘house mother’ Mrs. Alvia Hitchcock, who was a saint.”

Typical resident hall shenanigans kept former Dean of Students John Love very busy, Wheelock said. 

“One night, some fraternity brothers found a Billy goat and brought him over to a fellow’s room. Another instance involved some guys moving the Coke machine into the elevator,” Wheelock said. “Dean Love not only kept us in line but would also go to bat for us if he thought it would make a difference.”

Adrianne Brown Cantrell, class of 2008, lived in Henry Hall and said she enjoyed socializing with sorority sisters who stayed on her floor.

“It was fun being around friends. Sometimes we would people-watch from the balconies,” Cantrell said.

Riley Hammett, class of 2022, said the building had beautiful views of campus. During her time there, she worked as a resident advisor (RA) at Henry Hall.

“Everyone who had the opportunity to live in Henry or visit Henry could see the lovely view from the back and front of campus,” she said. “You could always see students enjoying themselves on the quad, making the climb up the steps to the main campus or entering the library or café.”

Hammett said Henry Hall’s rooftop had the best view of the campus.

“The access to the top of the building is locked for safety, but a group of RAs and I had the chance to sneak a peek of the rooftop,” she said. “After a long hard day of RA training, we enjoyed the best bird’s eye view of campus.”

In celebration of the longtime facility, the college will host a farewell gathering on Thursday, April 20, at 6 p.m., at Caswell Plaza, overlooking Henry Hall. Guests are encouraged to dress up in ‘70s attire.