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Hillsdale is beau­tiful. Even when the sky is grey, the ground is mud, and the streets are slush; we are sur­rounded by stunning, new, Neo-clas­sical archi­tecture seldom asso­ciated with college cam­puses.  Even off campus, we have a charming, well-kept downtown with buildings dating back to the 1800’s.

Many other schools have gor­geous archi­tecture, of course. I have a friend at Wellesley and another at Harvard whose dor­mi­tories are severely rem­i­niscent of Hog­warts. Even schools like Penn State have several Neo-clas­sical stunners of their own.

But note: pretty much all of these are old buildings.

Most archi­tecture con­structed post-WWII focuses pri­marily on space and cost-effi­ciency, resulting in the con­crete mon­strosities that hulk unbe­com­ingly in every city and town. These towns could not afford not to replace the less effi­cient, but sig­nif­i­cantly more beau­tiful, pre­de­cessors.

Few cities were spared, and those that were gen­erally suf­fered a financial inability to replace buildings rather than a desire to uphold tra­di­tional archi­tecture.

Louisville, Kent., my home town, of all places, has one of the largest and best-pre­served Vic­torian neigh­bor­hoods in America. Why? The city never really recovered after the Great Depression and could not afford to replace any­thing.

In a similar manner, small towns, hit by hard times before 60’s and 80’s struc­tures could take hold, are bas­tions of thoughtful, aes­thet­i­cally focused archi­tecture.

We are lucky to have access to downtown Hillsdale, which is a perfect example of such a town. It is only through careful revi­tal­ization efforts that these buildings con­tinue to be both pre­served and uti­lized.

As far as campus is con­cerned, we are lucky to attend a school that under­stands the rhetorical power of archi­tecture and is willing to forgo the modern incli­nation to churn out ugly, func­tional, mono­lithic mon­strosities in favor of Lane and Kendall (2005), Howard (2003), and the Grewcock Student Union (2006), all in the tra­dition of Central Hall (1875).