Posted by: rusch | June 29, 2007

There is nothing sacred

This post grew out of a comment I made at Times and Seasons about Church buildings.

I attended Ricks college in the summer and fall semesters of ’97. It was overwhelmingly a good experience. I gained independence; friends that I keep in touch with even today; I began to discover that I had a deep and abiding interest in the religions of the world including my own; and perhaps most importantly, my testimony grew independent of familiar spiritual institutions of my home. In short, my testimony became my own.

One of the things that struck was what I consider the upper and lower halves of campus. The upper campus buildings were built around the same period of time and were similar in layout and architecture. They were all uniform, and without personality. Then there was the Spori.The original Spori

As far as I know, the Spori that I knew in ’97 was oldest, and last remaining original building on campus. For countless generations of Ricks College alumni, the Spori building on lower campus was the symbol of the school. It represented the pioner work ethic, the value of education among the Latter-day Saints, and determination that seems almost other worldly to someone, such as myself, who lives in a world instant everything. I always enjoyed walking by it on my way to downtown Rexburg. In a way it was a temple because countless students spent almost millions of collective hours seeking to attain learning, as the Doctrine and Covenants commands.

Then, while serving my mission in 1999, it was announced that Ricks College would become a four year institution, and would forever after be known as BYU-Idaho. With the loss of the Ricks name would also go the athletic program, something that did not matter much to me, but was very important to many there. Later, I would discover that the changes would run much deeper and that the Spori’s days were numbered.

Demolition began in the Fall of 2000. During demolition, the building caught fire and burned to the ground. One writer in the student newspaper said that it was as though the building refused to die on anything other then its’ terms and chose fire as opposed to bulldozers.

When I think about the Spori, I can’t but help but think about how wrong it was to tear it down. It was more then a historic landmark, but a symbol of the heritage and culture that built a great college that is trying to become an even greater university. But unfortunately, this spirit of progress trampled the sacred, the spirit of a community and its’ pioneer heritage.

A new Spori building stands in it’s place. Supposedly, the outer facade is constructed of stones preserved from the original. But if you ask me, I would rather have seen the students and town band together to have the school declared an Idaho historical landmark, immune those who want progress.

In the end, it was a mistake to tear it down, and I was wrong to have done nothing prevent it.


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