As our beloved and eccentric Carpenter Hall nears destruction, its demise is met with nostalgia, as well as a sense of a new direction for the University of Dallas’s future.
Esther Moon, a recent addition to the English department faculty, taught two classes in Carpenter Hall and is currently teaching a class in Cardinal Farrell Hall. She reflected fondly on her time in Carpenter, laughing that the state of Carpenter Hall gave her classes some comic relief.
“I have really good memories of Carpenter from my graduate classes, and of course I’ll miss Carpenter, especially since I taught my first classes there,” Moon said. “The small classroom created a nice communal feeling for discussions, and Carpenter’s aesthetic can be cute and quaint.”
Carpenter Hall was becoming an eyesore on UD’s campus, but Moon hopes that future buildings will harmonize with their beautiful natural surroundings more than some of the newer buildings do.
“The natural environment at UD was instrumental in convincing me that the school wasn’t actually ‘ugly,’ ” Moon said. “It was time for Carpenter to go, though it wasn’t such a problem until you looked back and realized that the metal itself was sagging.”
Taylor Chelliah, a freshman who has been in Moon’s classes for both semesters, is optimistic about the new classroom space in Cardinal Farrell Hall. “The whole atmosphere is different in Cardinal Farrell Hall- there’s a much more studious vibe, it’s a lot more open,” she said. “The building seems to signify a new era for the school, and a sense of advancement that I really appreciate.”
Even groups that did not move to Cardinal Farrell Hall are benefitting from Carpenter’s planned demolition. For instance, choir practice in Carpenter was held in a cramped space which felt suffocating at times. Dr. Brian Bentley, the UD Chorale director, expressed relief about the chorale’s relocation from Carpenter to Catherine. “We did the best we could with the ensemble room that was available in Carpenter, so this space in Catherine feels like a luxury.”
The chorale shares the room with the School of Ministry, and although it’s not ideal, it accommodates the group much more smoothly. “We have space for technical equipment and tables, as well as more space to move around, which makes choir a much more pleasant experience,” Bentley said.
Bentley looks forward to one day having a dedicated music building, and hopes that it allows the music program to grow significantly, perhaps even to support a music major. But while the choir space may not be perfect, he believes that leaving Carpenter behind is an important step for the music program.
“It feels like we’re making progress,” Bentley said.
While Cardinal Farrell Hall may not fit seamlessly into UD’s nature-centric aesthetic, hopefully it will indeed prove to be “iconic,” a symbol of progress and a turning point for the university. At the same time, many hope that Cardinal Farrell Hall is unique in its style, and that UD’s new buildings will return to more natural roots with a new twist.
Regardless, as Moon said: “Good intellectual conversations can happen anywhere.”