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Remember Usen Castle in wake of impending demolition

By Nicole Porter

Section: Opinions

January 29, 2016

Everyone who has toured our campus has seen it. We were told the legends that surround it and how maybe some day we could live there too. I personally remember gaping in awe with my friend who visited with me only two short years ago. Usen Castle may be just another piece of non-cohesive architecture on campus, but it is the building here with the most history. Built in 1928 when Brandeis University was 20 years away from foundation, the Castle was the center of Middlesex College of Medicine and Surgery.

When Middlesex closed in 1945 and Brandeis University was born in 1948, the Usen Castle still stood. It has housed a dining hall, administrative offices, dormitories and Chum’s Coffeehouse. But as of an announcement from Monday, Jan. 25, part of the Castle’s history is coming to an end.

After the spring semester of 2017, Towers C, D, E, and Schwartz Castle will be taken down. Towers A and B, which includes Chum’s, will remain standing due to it being better preserved than the rest of the castle. These will not, however, be used as dormitories. New dormitories will be built during the summer of 2017 to replace the lost portion of the castle. Many people are shocked and angered by this news, since the Castle has been an icon for many students and alumni.

There are many things that will be lost by the removal of this section of the castle and the retirement of the Castle as a residence hall. The history that the Castle brings to Brandeis will surely be missed. After all, it is the oldest structure on campus. It has housed thousands of students and has stood as a symbol of Brandeis University since its beginning. The loss of this piece of history will be missed both on campus and off.

The Castle is not only a piece of history, but a part of the draw of Brandeis. No undergraduates came to Brandeis just because of the Castle, but it stands as a landmark that makes every tour unforgettable. After my tour I did not remember the SCC’s name or where the dining halls were located, but I did remember that one day I could live in a castle on campus. It is a huge selling point for tour groups that are on campus and it is something prospective students could look forward to in their Brandeis future. Although part of the Castle will remain after the construction, tour guides will no longer be able to say, “One day you too could live here.” Our princess and prince dreams must come to an end after fall semester of 2016.

There are also other concerns relating to the removal of the Castle that students have expressed. Julia Ryan ’19 hopes that the new residence halls built in the Castle’s place will not be “shining glass buildings or plain brick boxes.” The new residence halls’ exteriors should pay tribute to the fallen Castle and should blend well with the remaining Towers A and B. Other students wonder and guess at the fate of Towers A and B; if they will just remain monuments or be repurposed for a new job. Whatever may happen to those portions of the Castle, they will stand as a reminder of the landmark that will have stood from 1928 to 2017. We’ll have to wait to see what will become of the Castle and new residence halls, but for now we should all try to wander the endless hallways or climb to the highest point of the Castle and enjoy it while we can.

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