Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bauder Hall: remembering

I find that the best DIY projects are the ones that have a story behind them, wouldn't you agree?

I recently had the pleasure of walking down memory lane with a decor project for work. I was requested to create a photo "bulletin board" of sorts where the department could display photos of students and faculty members at various events, and I was tasked to use some historic materials for the project. Before I get to it, though, I have to give a little backstory.

This is Bauder Hall:
Photo removed

Bauder Hall was built in the 1920's as a carriage house for a private estate, and it became part of Westmont College in the 1940's. It began as a men's dormitory, but eventually became home to the Westmont College Psychology Department. The beloved and iconic building stood, like many buildings on campus, as a reminder of the College's former days as a neighborhood.

Photo removed 

I have so many fond memories made in Bauder Hall: Practicing therapy techniques learned in Clinical Psychology on the stone bridge, interviewing for a research position in a professor's office, waiting  at the top of the circular staircase for my first ever advising appointment. The weathervane creaking as it responded to the Sundowner winds we tend to get in the fall. A professor lighting a log in the classroom fireplace to keep us warm in the "freezing" 60* Santa Barbara Winter.

Photo removed

On the evening of November 13, 2009, however, a fire coursed through campus and completely changed our world.  Students, faculty, and community members alike fled for shelter in our gym, which was being protected by a team of firefighters. Over the course of the nearly-20 hours we were sequestered, 15 faculty homes, two dorm structures, and four departmental buildings were completely burned, along with several other structures. The fire was not fully contained until several days later, and not a single person died, which was a miracle. The damage, however, was extensive.

Both emotionally and physically.

Bauder Hall Westmont College Tea Fire
Photo via Los Angeles Times
photo via SF Gate
faculty office in Bauder Hall; photo via SF Gate
These pictures still take my breath away, nearly five years later. I remember the hourly announcements during our shelter in the Gym that informed us of what was happening outside. When the college's president went through the list of buildings confirmed destroyed, my heart broke. Bauder Hall was completely destroyed.

Bauder Hall Westmont College Tea Fire
Photo via Los Angeles Times
20 hours after we had sought refuge in the gym, the fire was contained enough to safely evacuate the gym. After the fire was contained and it was deemed safe to return to campus, little could be salvaged of Bauder Hall.

All that remained of Bauder Hall was the sign (which now resides in a coworker's office) and a few of the tudor-style building's iconic windows.

The Fifth Anniversary of the Tea Fire is  November 13 of this year. It baffles me that the current students know nothing about the horrors experienced on that fateful Thursday night. They have no reaction to smoke-riddled clothes or waterlogged and scorched wood.

They have no memories of Bauder Hall.

I have been thinking a LOT about Bauder Hall recently. Perhaps it is because my time at Westmont is coming to a close, and any and all memories I have about my time there are becoming more salient.

For a year and a half  after the fire, the Psychology departmental offices were housed in a sterile portable office building before construction of our new building was completed, and classes were held wherever there was room. The faculty did their best to make the offices feel less like a doctor's office and more like the warm and inviting space they'd been occupying prior, but no amount of framed art and lounge furniture ever quite made that space comfortable.

Two years after the fire, the department moved into its current home: Winter Hall. My first day as an employee of the department was moving day.

Winter Hall Westmont College Psychology Department
Winter Hall Westmont College Psychology Department
Winter Hall Westmont College Psychology Department

Now, fast forward to a few weeks ago. The project with which I was tasked was this: find some way to pull the windows salvaged from Bauder Hall's wreckage out of storage into some sort of a display.

Want to see what I did? Come back tomorrow to find out! Here's a sneek peek:

1 comment:

  1. How sad to see such a beautiful building destroyed. I can't wait to see how you honored the building.


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