As far as Monday mornings go, Parsons Hall had it rough.
Fifty-one years had passed since the building welcomed its first group of students; and after 51 years of living the college life, Parsons was showing its age.
Bright and early Monday morning, workers with the Russ James Contracting company delivered a rather loud last call to the old dorm. As one mid-size excavator began swiping chunks out of the public lounge area, another shook loose the rebar from its concrete casing.
“It’s breaking my heart right now,” says Becky Hill, who has worked in the Physical Plant department for nine years. “I cleaned Parsons for eight of those years.”
Hill and fellow staff members from Physical Plant watched as the excavator bucket swiped chunks of brick, concrete and glass from the building. The sounds of twisting metal and falling bricks were intermittently interrupted with the sounds of the bucket pounding into another portion of Parsons or scraping debris to the second piece of equipment.
“This was the best building to work in because the sweetest kids lived here,” Hill says. “You could interact with them more here, get to know them.”
Physical Plant worker Kim Theobald, who is Hill’s sister, used to clean the first floor of the building.
“A lot of good memories came from this place,” Theobald says. “You got to see the kids more and they always were very helpful and friendly.”
Over the past year, while campus watched Harrison Hall take shape, Parsons was wrapping up a five decade run as the beloved home-away-from-home for thousands of students. Shortly after Commencement, instead of undergoing its usual off-season treatment of getting a thorough cleaning and paint touchups, workers began removing beds, desks and other furnishings from the old dorm.
Once all of the items were donated to local charities, a chain-link fence surrounded the building and workers began stripping out various materials until all that was left was the shell.
It will take about five weeks to completely demolish the dormitory. This fall, a parking lot will take its place, providing 115 additional spaces than the one lost during the Harrison Hall construction project. In all, the College will have 1,130 parking spaces by the end of the Seventh Street project.
When Harrison Hall welcomes its first round of students for fall semester, Hill will be ready.
“I get the new building,” Hill says. “It’s a very nice building, but it’s still very sad for me. I’ve spent a lot of time in Parsons, had a lot of good times and met a lot of great kids over the years. Today is a sad day for me.”
Photos from Monday's demolition