The Demolition of Murray State’s Ordway Hall

Ordway Hall, ca. 1931 – Murray, Ky.
Photo: Murray State University Special Collections & Archives, File No. RG002-11-39

Entrance to Ordway Hall – Murray, Ky.
Photo: Tripp Scott.

The wrecking ball could be heard yesterday as it began the systematic demolition of Ordway Hall on the campus of Murray State University. According to a former MSU President Randy Dunn’s facilities update video, Ordway violated “current safety standards and has an overall weak structure thus threatening its integrity.”

Dunn cited a tight campus budget in arguing that the estimated renovation costs, in excess of $10 million, were too great for the University to bear.

So Murray State paid about $2 million to demolish a piece of its history.

The building was one of the oldest on Murray State’s central campus, though it falls just outside the boundaries of the National Register file on the Murray State campus.

Postcard of Ordway Hall – Murray State University – Murray, Ky.
Source: Billy’s Postcards

Future plans for the site are not yet determined, but demolition efforts do include an attempt to preserve the front fa├žade of the 1931 structure. Ordway Hall was named for G. P. Ordway who served on the University’s Board of Regents. A Republican, Ordway was an alternate at the Republican National Convention held in Kansas City, Missouri in 1928, during which California’ s Herbert Hoover was nominated for the Presidency.

Back in Calloway County,  the contract for the building was awarded on April 10, 1930 to W.M. Hill & Son of Benton, Ky. Exclusive of furnishings, the total cost to construct was $106,765. It was originally used as a men’s dormitory when it opened in 1931, except the men were moved to Wells Hall and the female students moved in during World War II when naval units utilized the campus.

When the Board of Regents voted in December 2011 to approve demolition unless outside funds were made available to rehabilitate Ordway Hall, the vote was 9-1. The lone dissenting vote was from Marilyn Buchanon who remarked

I would like to say that this building does not belong to this board. It belongs to the citizens of Kentucky. It belongs to the alumni of this university who have studied here for the past several years, and it belongs to the students of the future who will share in a rich tradition we have enjoyed. It is a part of all of us, and when we destroy it, we destroy a part of ourselves.

Anderson, Meghan. Under Ordway: Plans for demolition begin, Murray State News. 29 April 2013, available online.
Teague, Hawkins. Ordway Hall to be torn down after 82 years, Murray Ledger & times. 15 July 2013, available online.
Teague, Hawkins. University Regents vote to raze Ordway Hall, Murray Ledger & Times. 10 December 2011, available online
Woods, Ralph H. Murray State University: Fifty Years of Progress, 1922-1972. Pamphlet, 1973. Available online.

kernel: Eight New Kentucky National Register of Historic Places Sites

Livingston County Courthouse and Clerk’s Office
(Photo: Dr. Dianne O’Bryan, 2010)

In minutes released last week, the National Register of Historic Places has accepted eight Kentucky sites from the thirteen recommended by the Kentucky Heritage Council. Those approved include historic district, rural groceries, and civic buildings. Remarkably, three of the accepted sites were motels in the Bardstown area:

CALLOWAY COUNTY  (#11000792)

704 Vine St., Murray
LAUREL COUNTY (#11000793)
Main St. between W. 6th & W. 5th Sts., London
351 Court St., Smithland
NELSON COUNTY (#11000797)
321 W. Stephen Foster Ave., Bardstown
NELSON COUNTY (#11000799)
414 Stephen Foster Ave., Bardstown
NELSON COUNTY (#11000800)
530 N. 3rd St., Bardstown
TODD COUNTY (#11000801)
Roughly bounded by Ewing, Park & Cherry Sts., Guthrie
WARREN COUNTY (#11000802)
7286 Cemetery Rd., Bowling Green