Alumni celebrate legacy of Barnes Hall prior to its summer demolition

MT. PLEASANT (WJRT) - (04/18/19) - Central Michigan University will demolish Barnes Hall, its oldest residence hall.

It's all part of a three-year, $76 million dollar plan to make dorm life better for their students. The first phase includes tearing down Barnes Hall, but not without first celebrating its legacy.

"I can go through that day like it was yesterday because I was just so excited to be in college," Dan Gaken said about moving into Barnes Hall in August of 1999. Gaken is the Director of Central Michigan University's Leadership Institute.

At the time when Gaken moved in, Barnes Hall was the home for School of Music students, Leadership Institute students, and International students offering a diverse living experience.

"I had a roommate from the United Kingdom. I had a roommate from Malaysia, and I had a roommate from Uzbekistan. Even though I was never able to study abroad, I had a global experience from people that I got to know very well. To know their culture and their living experience," Gaken said.

Not only is Barnes the oldest residence hall, but with about 220 students living there, it's also the smallest.

"It was that very intimate community. You knew all of your neighbors. You had classes with them. It certainly was a special place," Gaken said.

One of those students turned out to be one of Central Michigan University's most notable graduates, a legendary sports broadcaster.

"Probably one of our most prominent alumni, Dr. Dick Enberg, lived in Barnes Hall on the second floor when he was involved with campus radio and did all of that," Gaken said.

All alumni are invited to say one last goodbye to Barnes Hall at a free open house on Saturday, April 20 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

"I was surprised by how many people just wanted to see their room one last time or walk in the lobby or just connect with people they met in Barnes Hall," Gaken said.

Alumni will also have the opportunity to write their favorite memories on the dorm's wall. Gaken says he plans to come back and see both rooms he live in from his freshman to junior year.

If you're an alumni and can't attend the event on April 20, you can visit any day next week from April 20 to April 27.

You just need to get an alumni button at Barnes' front desk.

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