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The Townhouses (RG 141)

The photograph shows the front view of the townhouses from a side angle. Numerous doors can be seen along the sidewalk in front of the townhouses. These doors represent different entrances to different townhouses.

The Townhouses

The Townhouses were constructed in 1989 as senior apartment-style living and are still in use today. The building is located parallel to the Stagg football field and measures approximately 350 feet in length by 35 feet in width. The building has the capacity to house 160 students in total. The Townhouses consist of 20 units, and each unit is a separate residence with three floors, housing eight students. The 20 units are divided into two separate wings, each wing with 10 units. In the middle of the two wings is a conference center, a lounge, housing for the Residence Director, as well as the laundry room in the basement.

The first floor of each Townhouse consists of a living room and kitchen and the second and third floors each have four rooms and one bathroom. All together this totals eight single bedrooms and two baths. All essential furniture, appliances, and utilities (heat and air conditioning) are included and laundry is shared by all tenants. The Townhouses usually house all males or all females, but occasionally split floor townhouses exist in which four females live on one floor and four males live on the other. Students choose their roommates in each townhouse. All of the houses have access to a backyard, where students can enjoy cooking, socializing, or even watching a sporting event. There is a main lounge in the basement of the Conference Center. There, students can play a game of pool or watch their favorite shows on a big-screen TV.

Because of the kitchen facilities provided by each apartment, residents are not required to purchase meal plans. However, the Townhouse residents are required to pay a higher rent than students living in other dormitories because of the additional features offered by the apartment-like complex. According to Dean Costello (1989), the Townhouses were billed as ideal for “Seniors who are getting ready to go out into the community as responsible citizens.” He believed the living experience provided by the Townhouses would bridge the gap between life in a dormitory and living in the “outside” world in a more apartment-like setting.

When the Townhouses were being constructed, only students in the Class of 1990, Physical Therapy Majors in the Class of 1989, and members of the Class of 1991 with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher were eligible to register. Many students were hesitant to register due the fact that they did not know whether the building would be completed in time. The intended occupancy date was September 1, 1989, however, students were required to sign a contract upon registration stating that if for some reason the building was not complete by this date, they were responsible to make other housing arrangements with friends. Other options included living in residence hall lounges, gymnasiums, East Campus, and even with some willing faculty members. The timeline for the information on the completion of the Townhouses is a little vague. In the Springfield Student from October 26, 1989, the newspaper stated that the first ten Townhouse units were occupied and students were living comfortably. The remaining 10 units were not occupied until January of 1990 (2nd semester).

The Wellness Center, now a part of the new Wellness Center/Physical Education Complex, was located in the basement of the townhouses. It was a 47,840-square-foot fitness area with weights and workout rooms. It opened in September 2008 and was moved by 2010. This basement space, as of 2013, is currently used to house the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) department.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection visually documents the construction and completion of the Townhouses and also documents the interior of the Townhouse Wellness Center. Most of the collection is made up of photographs of which a whole series of slides created during the construction of the Townhouses constitutes the vast majority. Also included are various slides and photographs of the exterior of the townhouses and some interior shots of the Wellness Center, weight room and exercise room, located in the garden level of the building. There is some debate as to whether all the pictures are of the Wellness Center while it was in the Townhouses.