Hot old buildings
Katie Galioto | Monday, November 2, 2015
Three weeks ago, my roommate and I used phrases like “suffocating,” “sweaty” and “an oven” to describe our room in Walsh Hall. If you’ve never met us, you should know that we never exaggerate situations.
The next day, a repairman came to fix our broken heaters. Fun fact: we were all asleep when he knocked on the door.
Imagine our excitement when he later described the heating valves in our room as “a hundred years old and probably the worst valves I’ve seen over the course of his entire career.” It adds a little thrill to a Monday. Luckily, the heater was fixed in no time. Our room is back to its normal temperature. When we open the windows, the room actually cools down (this was not the case before).
I told this story to my friend from a different college, and she was shocked. She lives in a very standard college dorm room in a fairly new building. It’s a room that’s perfectly square, with fully functioning heating and air conditioning.
I think my friend was half fascinated and half horrified when I told her more about life in a building that is more than 100 years old. I wove a tale of bats and bay windows, arched doorways and ancient elevators. At the end of my story, she said she appreciated her boring dorm more.
I immediately thought of Lou Holtz’s famous quote describing Notre Dame: “If you’ve been there, no explanation is necessary. If you haven’t, none is adequate.” My friend certainly couldn’t understand why I count down the days until I get to sleep in a lofted bed in a tiny room. No explanation can adequately convey to her my reasons for loving Walsh Hall, bats and all.
Old buildings are cool (just not in a literal sense). There’s something special about living in a building that has 100 years of history and traditions. My dorm has high ceilings, tile runners and windows of all shapes and sizes. Each one of the rooms is unique. We like to say the building has “character.”
Someone once told me a story about a past Walsh resident who visited campus over the summer. The man got someone to let him into his old room. He started to cry, moved by a flood of memories. Over the years, thousands of men and women have studied for tests in the rooms of Walsh. They’ve hosted parties and watched football games together. They’ve called this building their home.
I can see myself one day returning to my dorm. I’d probably step into my room and look fondly at everything about the place I used to live — even the heaters.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.