The University of Connecticut’s Master Plan involves demolishing the Faculty Row brown houses that are seen at the heart of the campus in order to construct new student housing. Previously utilized as fraternity houses inhabited by students before they were moved to Husky Village, these residences house the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Academic Services Center, the Design Center Studio and the Institute of Public and Urban Affairs.
According to the State and Federal Registries of Historic Places, the houses are “a reminder of a period in the history of the university when time and money could be expended on the architectural design of a modest house.” Other historic buildings on the campus under this category include Whitney residence hall, Castleman Engineering building and the former library, Wilbur Cross, which now houses administrative offices.
However, the demolition has been postponed indirectly due to budgetary shortfalls. The residence hall was planned to accommodate the increase in enrollment included in the Next Generation Connecticut expansion plan. The decline in State funding has postponed the construction of this new residence hall. Consequently, demolition has been halted until funds are procured, as it would be more of an inconvenience and an eyesore to have rubble at the center of our campus. In conjunction to future demolition and construction, the university should attempt to take into consideration the derelict state of these buildings and continue maintenance for aesthetic purposes.
The current dilapidation of the majority of these houses cause many to see these as a blemish on a campus that is quickly moving towards newer, modern infrastructure. The university has made it a clear priority to attract more students with the implementation of STEM housing, and the Next Generation plan involving more infrastructure. Moving forward, the university needs to think of the structures that already exist on the campus. The university is eligible for federal preservation grants and tax credits if they choose to restore the structures, which are registered as historical landmarks.
If demolition followed by construction of a new residence hall is not in the near future, Faculty Row still must be maintained. Since these buildings are at the very center of campus, they are in highly trafficked pathways. With open house tours and university visitors increasing, there must be something done to refurbish their exterior. While they do depict an homage to an earlier time at the university, it would be advisable to apply for federal preservation grants if only to temporarily refurbish them.