Under Ordway: plans for demolition begin

Photo by Lexy Gross/The News

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Eighteen months ago the vote was passed to raze Ordway Hall, and now the building is in its final days.

The decision to demolish Ordway came after the Dec. 9, 2011, meeting of the Murray State Board of Regents and a final vote of 8-1 to raze the building. With two Regents absent, the board still met quorum, and the vote stood.

The decision to raze the 82-year-old building became more apparent after a study conducted by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education was released and found the building to violate current safety standards such as being a fire hazard and not meeting the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It was the CPE’s recommendation that the building be torn down after the study showed that in five to 10 years, it was likely the building would collapse on its own.

The estimated price of demolition is nearly $2 million.

The damage to Ordway Hall is large amounts of asbestos, damage from water leaks and an overall weak structure. These problems have led to Ordway’s demise. The building is approximately 38,600 square feet, which includes an 11,000 square foot basement that has low ceilings and is only suitable for storage.

Before demolition could be completed, Students Affairs, as well as a few other offices had to find new places to reside.

Former Faculty Regent and Building and Grounds Committee Chairman Jack Rose made the motion to raze Ordway Hall, with the stipulation that it would not be destroyed if a grant or other funding was made available before the board’s June 2012 meeting.

Marilyn Buchanon was the only Regent to vote no.

Explaining her answer she said, Ordway Hall did not belong to the board or to the administration. She said it belonged to the citizens of Kentucky and the alumni and students of the University.

She said each generation has the responsibility to preserve cultural property so future generations can inherit and appreciate what she said were historic treasures.

“These buildings cannot be replaced,” Buchanon said. “If they are destroyed, they are gone forever–along with part of our heritage.”

Kim Oatman, chief facilities officer of Facilities Management, said the estimated cost of the renovations were approximately $9 million. Murray State and those wishing to preserve Ordway had until June to gather the funds as per the stipulation.

Oatman said Facilities Management is currently working on the bid documents for demolition of Ordway and hope to open bids in early to mid-May. He said the goal is to start demolition work in June.

Ordway Hall joins several legacy buildings that were built in a period of about 10 to 15 years of the University’s founding. Wilson Hall, Wrather Hall, Wells Hall, Pogue Library, Lovett Auditorium, the Old Fine Arts Building and the Carr Health Building are now in the 80-plus year period and looking toward renovation.

In the 1970s, Ordway was converted from residential use to student support spaces, housing Student Affairs, Career Services and the Testing and Counseling Center.

Story by Meghann Anderson, News Editor.