Mumford House will be preserved, integrity and all

The oldest building on campus, the Mumford House, will be staying exactly where it’s been for the past 139 years, the South Quad, as decided by the Board of Trustees last Wednesday. Just by walking past it, you can tell how negligent the University administration has been in the building’s upkeep throughout the years. It’s endured extensive damage over the years.

Of course, it didn’t happen overnight. We can’t pin the Mumford House’s neglect on just this administration. As is the case with many of the buildings in disrepair on campus, the current condition of the Mumford House has been in the making for several decades.

The University’s lack of concern for the Mumford House over time just sheds even more light on the fact that if you’re not in the colleges of business or engineering, then your college is probably short-changed — overlooked and under-funded. Just look at Lincoln Hall, or many of the other buildings on the Main Quad. Many of the buildings with the most history on campus continue to crumble away.

From when Mumford House was first built in 1870, it housed many of the deans of agriculture, including the late Dean Mumford, its namesake. The house was originally meant to be a model farmhouse for the school’s experimental farm — “economical in cost, and compact and convenient.” Mumford House is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2006 was placed among the top 10 statewide endangered list published by the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois.

For those very reasons, preservationists have been fighting for the past few months to ensure that the historical building would not be moved. On Wednesday, they won they fight. Earlier last year, the University proposed moving the Mumford House to the South Farms, renovating it and eventually making it part of a visitor’s and interpretive center for the College of ACES. The preservationists argued that moving the house would ruin its historical foundation and integrity; more importantly, it would take the house off the register of historical places.

Mumford House has been condemned and unoccupied since the 1990s and yet it’s still one of the more charming buildings on campus. It’s a building that reminds students and visitors of the University’s history. The Board of Trustees’ decision to not move the house is by far one of its better decisions.

It’s a part of our University, but right now the Mumford House is just a symbol of negligence on the part of the University to treasure the historical significance of buildings on campus. If we’re to be expected to respect our historical buildings, then we need the University to do the same. And they can start by renovating Mumford House. The College of ACES has played a large role in the University’s history, and the house deserves to be showcased as an important part of our University.