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Space Odyssey II: More Stories and Photos

October 2003

It's the nature of the higher education beast, so to speak, that a campus changes in an eternal quest for more space. The problem is, for alumni and former faculty, those changes change everything. Dismay mingles with nostalgia as one wanders around campus lamenting the demise of some once-revered hangout. Even dorm rooms formerly reviled or classrooms once scorned evoke a yearning to go back to younger and, yes, better days.

And the stories continue...

DAVIS HALL (built 1922)
The basement of Davis was a chapel on the north end and the post office on the south end. When there were a lot of priests at St. Ambrose, they'd say individual masses at several altars. There were a lot of priests here then. After Christ the King Chapel was built, some altars were put in Lower Chapel so priests could say individual masses there. They later took out the altars because fewer priests were around and private masses were no longer popular. The last one was removed probably two years ago.
-Fr. William Dawson '50

Downstairs Lewis Hall, where the art department was housed, was a rabbit warren of dingy rooms. At one point, Fr. Edward Catich had decided that St. Ambrose needed to become involved in a method of printmaking that used slabs of Bavarian limestone-lithostones they were called. They were stacked floor to ceiling along the wall of one room until they were finally used in the seventies. Twenty students could have sat in the space those slabs took up.
-Les Bell '72

Back then, the baseball field was in the middle of campus. Center field sat where the chapel is now and the batter's box was located about at the main entrance of Cosgrove.
-Leo Kilfoy '51

When I was at St. Ambrose, that area was just flat grass, and when it would rain hard we students-all male at the time-would run out and have this chaotic mud-football game, just one big uninhibited boys' camp, because of course there was no need to do any preening for the opposite sex. You could run and slide for yards in the mud on your belly.
-Les Bell '72

Where Channel-11 is now was just storage, and there was a battle royal between Fr. (Edward) Catich, head of the art department, and Fr. (Charles) Shepler, chair of speech and drama, over who would get that space. Fr. Catich wanted it for a stained glass studio and Fr. Shepler wanted it for the TV station. Shepler won, with one small corner off the back boiler room for the stained glass studio.
-Ken Colwell '73

Driven by lack of space, we started building the townhouses in 1990. The problem was, when we started building them, we didn't own all of the property. The owner of the house where Student Services is now was the last holdout. We'd built three of the townhouses before finally getting a commitment from him. We never intended to tear down that house but we needed to build in his back yard. He made us sweat till the last minute. So when school started the first three townhouses were done except that last one. The students lived in the Holiday Inn till it was finished. With Tiedemann Hall, Hagen Hall, it was the same thing: We were laying the last piece of carpet as the students walked in the door.
-John Morrissey '58, former physical plant director

And then, some things never change...
In an unsigned memo dated Oct. 18, 1956: "A survey of the campus indicates that we have an acute parking problem, and this exists for faculty as well as student personnel."

Sound familiar? It goes on: "We are fortunate, however, in the fact that we have plenty of ground available and it is merely a matter of determining where would be the most logical spot to locate the parking area....

"It is of the utmost importance, however, that in any of our parking arrangements we designate the part that is to be used by faculty and strictly enforce that parking. It can be done by warning any student who might park in a faculty member's stall, perhaps give them two warnings, and after two warnings then impose a fine. If there were more than two or three fines that had to be imposed on one individual, I think it would be rather obvious that he was not interested in conforming and more drastic disciplinary action should be taken by the Dean... I believe very few warnings and a few fines would take care of it."

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