Long Hall: ‘It’s sad to see it go’

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, July 26, 2012

I was in Collegiate Singers at Troy University many years ago.

On Wednesday, I stood on the breezeway near the choral room where I spent my college afternoons in and watched as an excavator moved toward John Maloy Long Hall.

There was a pit in my stomach as the giant claw raised and rammed into one of the brick walls that made up the octagon-shaped band room.

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The building stood strong at first. The claw rammed several times before the bricks began to fall.

Dust rose as concrete and mortar broke apart and smashed into the ground.

The yellow excavator with its giant claw began to look like a monster destroying a memory.

The demolition of the building that has been a staple on campus since 1975 is a good thing for progress, but it still stings.

I wasn’t in the “Sound of the South,” but I remember joining various vocal ensembles in the band room. The sound from voices and instruments alike would resound.

It was amazing.

But even the most nostalgic band member will tell you they disliked the room as a whole.

The memories were good; even the bad ones. But it was time for a change.

The new facility, which will also have longtime band director Dr. Johnny Long’s name, will house a band rehearsal facility, choral program, rehearsal spaces for ensembles and performance groups, a dance studio and offices for the Long School of Music and the College of Communications and Fine Arts.

The project is estimated at $7.5 million and is expected to take 12 to 15 months to build.

Still, even knowing of the greatness that will stand in the same spot, it was hard to watch a building from my collegiate years reduced to piles of bricks and broken wood.

I’d be lying if I said at one point I didn’t have to focus on my job and forget about my feelings.

And those who participated in The Messenger’s online poll yesterday seemed to share my nostalgic feelings.

When asked if they were sad to see Long Hall demolished, poll readers responded: 50 percent – “No, but only because a new facility is being built;” 33 percent responded, “Yes, I made lots of memories there;” and only 17 percent chose, “No, it was time for it to go.”

But, as hard to watch as the demolition was, even I know this progress is good for the students the university who will be studying music and dance for years to come.

Dr. Long said it best to me on Wednesday.

“It’s sad to see it go,” Long said. “But the thing that makes it better is we know it is going to be so much nicer. The best times are yet to come for the band.”

Robbyn Brooks writes for The Messenger. Contact her at robbyn.brooks @troymessenger.com.