It has been several weeks since its residents were given the bad news: Mowbray House will be demolished.
The house has a long history — it has been used as everything from a sorority house to a residence for international students. But in spring 2010, members of Eco-Rollins convinced the school to allow them to convert it into a sustainable living space. The following summer, these students worked to “green” the house, taking steps such as planting a garden, replacing light bulbs with energy-saving ones, and setting up an organic fertilizing system. Since then, Mowbray has provided a home for seven environmentally minded students every semester — until now.
At the end of the term, the college plans on demolishing the house to make space for portables that will serve as temporary classrooms and lab spaces while the Bush science center is renovated.
Although the college told students that the house would eventually have to be taken down, many involved in the project thought they would be able to keep it for a longer period of time. Program Coordinator of the Sustainability Program Ann Francis did not expect the house to be torn down so shortly after its conversion, either. “My first reaction was shock, then instant sadness — I thought of all the work we did to get it started,” she said. “It’s really sad it was so soon — we were originally told we would be allowed to have it for 2-5 years — I didn’t think it would just be for two.”
Fortunately, there is a bright side. The school has promised to reserve a wing of Strong Hall for students interested in sustainable
Despite this alternate arrangement, however, both past and present residents are upset about the school’s decision. Theresa Chu ‘11, last year’s house manager, expressed nostalgia for Mowbray. “Living in that house was a significant part of my time at Rollins,” she said. “I’ll miss the coziness of the house and the sense of community all of the residents had.” Chu says she will especially miss the garden. “There’s something magical about planting a seed in the ground and watching it grow into something beautiful,” she said.
Megan Frederick ‘12, a second-year Mowbray resident, will also miss the sense of community. “We aren’t confined to our room like in the other residence halls,” she said. “When you live in Mowbray, you are part of a family. That will never happen again on this campus.”
Even after it is torn down, though, Mowbray’s legacy will remain intact. “It’s sad, but … the residents made a positive impact on campus by raising environmental awareness,” said Francis.