Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Farewell to CNU's "Old" McMurran Hall

I was on the Christopher Newport University campus today to attend some meetings and noticed that the "old" McMurran Hall (shown in the center of this photo) was being torn down. The building is being replaced by a new McMurran Hall that is much larger and more technologically equipped than its predecessor. I spent some time in the new McMurran Hall today and it is a really spectacular building. I look forward to teaching classes there!

Nevertheless, it is the end of an era and an important milestone in CNU's history. The old McMurran, built in 1964, was orginally known as "Christopher Newport Hall." It was the first building constructed on the Shoe Lane land tract and in its early days housed almost the ENTIRE college. Classrooms, administrative offices, a library, and bookstore were all located in the building. It was renamed McMurran Hall in 1985 to honor longtime state legislator, Lewis McMurran, who sponsored the legislation creating CNU in 1960. In later years as the campus expanded, it eventually housed the Information Technology (IT) and History Departments.
In recent years, the old McMurran began to show its age and it was certainly an appropriate time to replace it with a larger facility that can better meet the needs of the modern CNU's student, faculty, and staff population. Nevertheless, it is a building that should be remembered.

I am happy I had the opportunity to feature the old McMurran Hall prominently in my recent book, Christopher Newport University (Arcadia Publishing, 2009) and give it the attention and dignity it deserves. As the CNU campus continues its exciting and much-needed facility modernization, I think it is important that we do not forget the school's noble history and heritage. As CNU moves ahead, I plan on doing my best to find ways to appropriately commemorate as well as celebrate the university's history. The generations of faculty, student, staff, alumni, and community supporters who committed their time and resources to building the school over the years deserve no less.

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