The University of Idaho loves its old buildings. The Memorial Gym, Art and Architecture South and — most of all — the Administration Building. These buildings are all registered in the National Register of Historical Places and are often seen on UI promotional materials because of their prestige and turn of the century architecture.
However, there is one old building on UI campus that has been severely neglected. Ridenbaugh Hall was built in 1902, making it one of the oldest buildings on campus, and was also registered in the National Register of Historical Places in 1977.
Unfortunately, the building has deteriorated without major renovations to the infrastructure or interior. The walls of Ridenbaugh are stained, along with many of the windows, which are difficult to open and close, not to mention the chairs which are often broken or worn out. The neglect does not stop there. The balcony on the second floor has multiple broken light fixtures. The second floor has been closed off to students and faculty because of safety concerns.
There is one major exception to the condition of Ridenbaugh– the first floor art gallery. The first floor is well presented with laminated wood flooring, ample light and detached walls, which are painted multiple times a year for different art galleries.
The top two floors are used as practice rooms for music students at the Lionel Hampton School of Music.
To think LHSM administration is at fault for the condition of the building is wrong. The LHSM administration has been committed to supplying music majors with needed resources in practice rooms and improving the overall condition of Ridenbaugh. LHSM has supplied the hall with new pianos, practice mirrors in every room, sturdy stands and new chairs for the lounge, to name a few improvements.
However, LHSM can only do so much. They do not have the resources to implement a much-needed remodel– that responsibility falls to higher UI administration.
It is easy to see why UI has not set away funds to fix Ridenbaugh. Many students do not know Ridenbaugh’s historic past and could care less about the condition of the building. Not to mention, UI budgets are limited causing administrators to often use facility renovation funds on more urgent problems. And it’s true, Ridenbaugh is not in a state of infrastructure crisis. However, if it continues to be neglected it will cause much greater problems for UI in the future.
Throughout Homecoming week, I saw tradition after tradition celebrating UI’s historic legacy. It would be a disgrace if we fail to maintain such a physical part of our history here on campus. Ridenbaugh is one of the few historical monuments at UI. If we do not properly take care of it, what does that say about UI’s legacy?
Ryan Tarinelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org