Founders Hall serves both as storage and a workspace for students as they prepare for productions.
Photos by Sonja Brandt
By Paige Uzzell
Founders Hall, contrary to popular belief, is far more than an abandoned ancient building full of old junk left behind and forgotten throughout the years. Concordia’s theatre department has made a home in the aged building, leaving their mark on the campus.
Founders was established in 1894, when Concordia’s campus consisted of male students studying to become teachers. It housed both dormitories and classrooms. As the campus grew into the Concordia of today, Founders has faded into the background for many.
Today, Founders is mainly occupied by the technical crews in the theatre department. The scene shops, prop rooms and costume construction shops are just a few of the inhabitants in the old building. The theatre department is also located in Weller Hall’s basement, which houses their makeup room, some costume storage and the script library.
However, Founders is more than a place for storage. It is also the starting point for every theatrical show put together by Concordia’s theatre department.
“(I)t’s where we’re able to put our shows together prior to producing the shows,” Associate Professor of Communication and Theatre Bryan Moore said. “Especially when you have spaces where you share with others, you need a space that you can just work on things without worrying about getting in the way of other people and other groups. Founders allows us to do that.”
Earlier this semester, Concordia’s student senate sent out a survey about the renovation and repurposing of the old building.
“Right now I am not worried about it because that is in a very long term future,” Moore said. “I would be surprised if anything happens to it within the next 10 years. The conversations I’ve had with various members of the cabinet have pretty much shared the reality of the situation, which is there is no foreseeable future plans at this time that shows any kinds of major changes happening with Founders.”
Students who are interested are welcome to visit Founders and ask about getting a tour.
“We’re more than happy to show people around the best that we can. It’s not a private thing, or a secret. It shouldn’t be a secret, it’s just that it’s the technical side of what we do,” Moore said.
Students may find some interesting signs and art on the walls in the old building. The students who work in the different technical crews have tried their hand at making Founders more of their own.
“There’s a lot of creativity, a lot of their work kind of references either shows we have done or references other theatre things that are going on. There’s some Harry Potter fans, so there’s a few references to that world,” Moore said.
The students are able to create a place full of character, not just from the people who use it, but through the expression of art.
“Since Founders is the theatre kids’ safe haven, I love that we are adding our own artwork and murals to the walls,” junior Breann Huber said. “Don’t get me wrong, Founders has enough character as it is, but the fact that the students get to express themselves more by adding a piece of themselves to the walls is awesome. It’s almost as though we get to claim Founders as our own.”
The drama students consider this building a “safe haven” but questions have risen if the building is safe for the occupants. The third floor has been rumored to be unsafe for people to be on.
“There were some unwise choices made in the past that caused problems and it has been repaired. I mean it’s the first building on campus, so you’ve got to absolutely want to make sure that it’s as careful as possible. I would like to believe we wouldn’t be in there still if it was unsafe,” Moore said.
Although the theatre department is spread out across campus and crammed into places unused by the majority of campus, they are making use of Founders as best they can.
“(W)e have made the best of the situation we have, it is obviously not the most ideal situation, it’s a tight space for everything we have, and everything we try to do,” Moore said. “But we are making the best of it, so we can continue to produce the art that we want to share with the campus and the community.”