Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

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End of an Era and Hope for the Future: Alumni Visit Lourdes Hall for a “Final” Goodbye.

Some+of+you+may+not+have+seen+Lourdes+Hall+since+it+has+not+been+a+living+space+since+2021.+This+Lourdes+Hall+on+October+6th%2C+2023.+Winona+State+has+yet+to+sell+this+residence+hall.+Alumni+gather+on+Saturday%2C+September+30th+to+do+a+final+walkthrough.+
Jacob Gifford
Some of you may not have seen Lourdes Hall since it has not been a living space since 2021. This Lourdes Hall on October 6th, 2023. Winona State has yet to sell this residence hall. Alumni gather on Saturday, September 30th to do a final walkthrough.

The sun shines through the old Italian arches of Lourdes Hall and the voices of old classmates mingle through an empty building. Dust coats the inside of the building while the alumni walk through their old home-away from home. The activity of former students within the walls brings the building back to its former glory, even just for a few hours.

Lourdes Hall, a dormitory building on the former Winona State University (WSU) West Campus close in 2021, along with the rest of the West Campus. This closure happened for many reasons. With a new hall added to the main campus, there was some concern and questions about if WSU would close Lourdes because of wanting to add a new hall.

Scott Ellinghuysen, Vice President of Finance and Administration and CFO has the true reasoning behind the closure of the West WSU Campus.

“Our entire West Campus was closed a couple of years ago with an eye towards consolidating our student housing on the main campus,” Ellinghuysen said.

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WSU has sold Maria Hall and the Tau Centre, but Lourdes Hall remains available. While Lourdes Hall is up for sale, there have been many generations of students living there. Lourdes Hall alumni are deeply passionate about the time they spent there.

One such Alumni of Lourdes Hall, Michael San Filippo, lived in Lourdes Hall for just one year, but still found very fond memories there. These fond memories he and many others have regarding Lourdes Hall are the reason he reached out to WSU about doing a tour for alumni.

“The fact that we were sort of on our own little island on the west campus, with our own cafeteria and study rooms and computer lab, where we all had to huddle together waiting for the shuttle or the van to take us to the main campus, I think that created a real sense of community and camaraderie, and I think that’s why the group feels so connected even decades later,” San Filippo said.

This Alumni tour of Lourdes Hall happened on Sept. 30, 2023, and was meant to give Alumni closure. While they had all graduated, Lourdes Hall held some of the fondest memories of some of the most important years of their life. So, for many alumni of Lourdes Hall, it is very hard to see it up for sale and vacant.

Alumni event coordinator, Tracy Hale, is the person who put together the final tour for Lourdes Hall.

“It was kind of an open house feel, we had the ability to go into the building, we had our tour guides lead them through the basement and the first floor,” Hale said. “We had cookies and water outside for a social area for them to kind of congregate and share their stories and take pictures in the building.”

Though Lourdes Hall has been closed, many Alumni are very understanding of the reasoning. WSU wants to consolidate students on the main campus, and many want to live in newer buildings than Lourdes Hall was.

“I can’t tell you how moving it was to see former residents walking the halls and peaking in their former rooms with their own college-aged kids now, or spouses, or to see groups of friends gathered together again, sharing old stories in the same spaces where they happened years and years ago,” San Filippo said.

These moving experiences were not lost in the sadness that Lourdes Hall is being up for sale. Alumni still hold the building, its architecture and the communities that it once held dear to themselves. Though, as saddening as circumstances are, many alumni do understand why the building was being put up for sale.

“They [alumni] understand that we don’t have the enrollment that we had in the past,” Hale said. “Our students want to be on the main campus, they want to have newer buildings, so they understand that that has changed. It is the end of an era, but it was bittersweet.”

The sweet part of the word “bittersweet” comes from the hope that many alumni have for the future of the building that was formally Lourdes Hall. The alumni of Lourdes Hall are hopeful that people will still be able to make memories there, just as they did, even if it is not a part of WSU anymore.

“I don’t know what the future holds for Lourdes Hall, but I’m very hopeful it will have a new life going forward and be the source for future memories for people down the road,” San Filippo said.

Lourdes Hall was an important piece of many people’s times at WSU. There were memories made and lives that were changed there in the form of friendships, first loves, among many other things. The alumni of Lourdes Hall remain passionate about the building and their ties to it; this was proven through their asking for a tour of Lourdes Hall one last time before the official end of an era that will come when the building is officially sold.

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About the Contributors
Alayna Majkrzak, News Reporter
Alayna Majkrzak (she/they) is a first-year at Winona State University and is a news reporter here at The Winonan. Majkrzak is a CALT (Communication, Arts, and Literature Teaching) major and is minoring in theatre.   In their spare time, they enjoy crocheting, reading and writing. Though, all these activities are preferably done in a comfortable sweater while listening to their favorite playlist or watching Ghost Adventures. Back at home, Majkrzak was involved in their school newspaper for four years, and they are incredibly excited to continue their passion for honesty through journalism in college.  
Jacob Gifford, Features Writer

Jacob Gifford (They/He) is a photographer and a features writer for the Winonan and started in fall 2023. Jacob is in his third year at Winona State and is studying Psychology with a minor in Philosophy and Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies.

Besides working for The Winonan, Jacob is also the Vice president of Philosophy Club at Winona State.

In his free time, Jacob enjoys hanging out with friends, longboarding, playing videogames, and writing and playing music. Jacob also enjoys going to concerts of local bands.

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  • J

    JenFeb 15, 2024 at 1:54 pm

    So sorry I missed this! I was at Lourdes from ‘91-‘94. I loved it there. So many great memories and such a gorgeous building. Being there really fostered my love of the architecture from that time. I still prefer older homes to the new ones. I wish there were pictures. I’d love to see the inside again.

    Reply
  • A

    AnnOct 11, 2023 at 8:54 pm

    This was a very nice article, but neglected to mention the decades of use as the dorm of the College of Saint Teresa. My mother spent 1942-46 in Lourdes and I spent 1967-8 in that dorm before moving to Maria and Loretta Halls 1968-71. Mom spoke of the war years and watching from the windows as the telegrams would be delivered telling of death or injuries to fathers, brothers, uncles of the young women. We watched to see young men arrive to meet their dates. Lourdes was built to last and I hope a new group of people will enjoy living there some time.

    Reply
  • M

    Marilyn B.Oct 11, 2023 at 4:34 pm

    Further to the memories of WSU students, the former College of St. Teresa has a rich heritage, as my mother lived in Lourdes from 1934-38, and I was on campus there in 1970-74. Such a beautiful building, such potential… hope to view it once again…

    Reply
  • P

    Pam LorenzenOct 11, 2023 at 4:00 pm

    Don’t forget all the alumni from The College of St. Teresa who lived in Lourdes Hall. They also have many great memories!

    Reply