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Demolition begins on Stephens College buildings

Monday, July 1, 2013 | 3:48 p.m. CDT; updated 10:52 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 1, 2013
The exterior walls of Hillcrest Hall stand as the interior is gutted Monday morning. Hagan Scholarship Foundation recently purchased the building and the Stephens Auditorium complex. Both buildings will be razed before the academy is built. Hillcrest Hall is on the corner of Ripley Street and East Broadway.

COLUMBIA — Piles of wood lie outside the shell of Hillcrest Hall as construction workers prepare to tear down the building. Workers breaking glass panes add to the sounds of demolition around the former residence hall.  

The preparation to construct the Hagan Scholarship Foundation’s college-preparatory academy will continue during the next couple of weeks. 

Hillcrest Hall will be the first to be torn down, a process which will take eight weeks, said Roger Kent of Ahrens Contracting Inc.

Stephens College Auditorium/Natatorium complex will be razed at a later date.

Mark Farnen, spokesman for Hagan Scholarship Foundation, said the demolition process is scheduled to be completed by October.

The academy will cater to students from “small towns, who work hard, get good grades but don’t have the money to go to college,” Farnen said.

Dan Hagan, who started the foundation three years ago, made his money with investments and real estate. Farnen attributes Hagan’s success to hard work, wise investments and careful money management. Broadway Village, an apartment complex, is one of the properties owned by Hagan.

According to its 2012 tax return, the foundation’s assets amount to about $74 million. The cost of building the academy has not been publicly disclosed.

Farnen said Hagan decided to build the academy because “having a safe space to study helps as much as money will. He wants to provide that space to students with no expense to them.”

The area for the campus is divided into two lots. The northern lot is where Hillcrest Hall now stands in its last days. The auditorium complex currently occupies what will be the southern lot.

Janese Silvey, a spokeswoman for Stephens College, said the auditorium opened as an assembly hall in 1948 and was used for concerts, speakers and opera. However, the building has not been in use for the past 20 years.

Hillcrest Hall, built in 1965, was a residence hall up until its sale this past academic year.

Construction for the new buildings will begin almost as soon as the demolitions are completed.

The southern lot will remain devoid of buildings, at least for the first year.

“Parking lots will remain, but any place with earth will have grass planted. The whole area will look like a park for a while,” Farnen said. "If we need the space, we will use the southern lot to expand." 

A cluster of buildings for the main campus has been planned for the northern lot. The architect chosen for the construction has already made preliminary plans for the buildings, which have been shared with the president of Stephens College, Dianne Lynch. Planned buildings include residence halls for the students, living quarters for some staff and faculty, dining facilities, classrooms, an administrative building and a multipurpose facility.

Farnen said the foundation is not yet releasing the name of the architects for the project.

“We won’t use the full capacity in the first year. We expect about 50 to 60 students, but the facilities will be built for 100 students,” Farnen said.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.


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