Condemnable but charming: The case for preserving beloved Morton Hall
Written by Sarah Smith|
April 17, 2017
Morton Hall is the academic building that everyone loves to hate. When the College of William and Mary finished renovations of Tyler Hall, government and economics majors flocked to the new and improved building, complete with a sunny entrance way and a prime location on the Sunken Garden. I might be bitter just because I’ve yet to have any of my many international relations and economics classes in the beautiful building, but I’m a big fan of Morton – and would argue that it’s one of the most endearing spots on campus.
Sure, the building definitely has some structural issues. Several government professors cite memories of the basement level flooding and of facilities maintenance workers pouring cement into the foundation when the building started to settle. Morton’s physical appearance isn’t necessarily the most appealing, but it houses such an eclectic and charming group of faculty and programs, I’d be sad if I went a semester without having to trek up and down the Morton steps three or four – or 12 – times a week.
See, I not only love Morton Hall for its lovely basement that has housed some of my favorite IR classes, but also the bonds I made with people over shared discomfort. There was nothing like hiking there from GGV my freshman year in the snow for an 8:00 a.m. international security class, only to immediately start sweating upon entering an overly heated building. All jokes aside, I really did look forward to the familiar feeling of those basement classrooms.
What I really love about Morton, and why it found a place in my heart as the best academic building on campus, is its charming third floor.
What I really love about Morton, and why it found a place in my heart as the best academic building on campus, is its charming third floor. I recently declared my gender, sexuality, and women’s studies major, and absolutely love the small classroom at the end of the GSWS hallway in which I’ve spent countless hours taking classes. There’s lots of sunlight, thought-provoking posters on reproductive justice, and there’s nothing like seeing a bunch of students packed in a classroom, sitting on couches and chairs in the corner when the center table starts to overflow.
Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in college have been in that classroom. It might take me an embarrassingly long time to hike up all of the steps – let’s face it, there’s no cute way to catch your breath once you hit the third floor landing – but I’ve learned to challenge the way I view the world. The conversations with peers and professors in that GSWS classroom have shaped my beliefs on intersectional feminism and activism, things that I hold as integral to my identity.
If you still want more reasons to love the building that may or may not be in a sinkhole, there’s the stuffy – but oh so wonderful – classics library just down the hall. A thick wooden table dominates the room and the walls are filled with translations, Latin dictionaries, and odd knick-knacks that professors and the Classics Club have collected over the years. My friends ask me regularly why I’m still taking Latin – no, I’m not majoring in it, no, I don’t need it to fulfill my language proficiency – but honestly, the happy bubble that is the classics library is a good enough reason why. There’s something about being surrounded by such a passionate group of students (seriously, like think about who would be taking 400 level classes in Latin), and a rainbow of bound books that makes the hours of translation and 90 minutes spent inhaling whatever’s in the air in Morton so worth it.
Whether or not you fall as deeply in love with this boxy brick building as I have, I can guarantee you won’t find me jumping for joy if the College ever moves ahead with demolishing Morton.
I’m not saying you have to take four semesters of Latin, or even try a GSWS class – although both programs are fantastic – but find a tucked away classroom for a small program in Morton and think about giving it a chance. Morton hosts a diverse group of classes – Africana studies, Asian and Middle Eastern studies, sociology and global studies – in addition to the ones I’ve already mentioned. There’s definitely a home for you on one of the building’s floors. Whether or not you fall as deeply in love with this boxy brick building as I have, I can guarantee you won’t find me jumping for joy if the College ever moves ahead with demolishing Morton.
Email Sarah Smith at [email protected]