The Catholic University of America

Feb. 11, 2011

Wrecking Ball Chips Away at a Bit of CUA History


Debris falls as the wrecking ball strikes Spellman Hall.

Photo gallery

With a dull thud, a wrecking ball started chipping away this morning at the top south corner of Spellman Hall, one of three Catholic University buildings slated for demolition in the coming weeks.

CUA senior administrators, led by University President John Garvey, were on hand to witness the event. They were joined by several members of the Office of Alumni Relations who said “Ooh!” as the ball took out a light fixture from the top of Spellman and then knocked a hole in the fifth floor of the building, which was built in 1971.

Today’s activity marked the start of the eight-week demolition of Spellman, Conaty, and Spalding halls, located on CUA’s South Campus. The demolition paves the way for the next chapter in the history of South Campus, which is scheduled for redevelopment as a major gateway to the University.

On nine acres along Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street, N.E., the developer selected by CUA is planning to build 761 residential units and 85,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The plans also call for artist studio space and a community arts center.


From left, Associate Vice President for Facilities Operations Carl Petchik, Vice President for University Relations Frank Persico, Vice President for Finance and Administration Cathy Wood, President John Garvey, and Provost James Brennan in front of Spellman, as demolition begins.

Photo gallery


Kathleen O'Connor, of Scituate, Mass., who earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 2000, noted in an e-mail that she “made friendships for a lifetime, thanks to South Campus.” O’Connor, who lived there her freshman year, would meet friends every evening in front of Conaty at 5:30 “on the dot” to head to South Dining Hall in University Center for dinner. University Center is now Bishop O’Connell Hall.

Kyra Lyons, executive director of alumni relations, recalled moving into Spellman on the first day of freshman orientation. “It was all girls that year, and I still see some of the girls I knew from my floor! I moved to Spalding, which was co-ed, for my sophomore year.”

“Spalding was definitely louder, but still a lot of fun. I spent two years of my life at CUA on the south side, and I have great memories. It’s sad to see the south side dorms come down, and know that part of CUA history (and my own history) will be gone. But, I know the memories will live on.”

Also on hand to observe the demolition were the editor in chief and photo editor of CUA's student newspaper, The Tower.

Note: A video of the demolition will be posted later.


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