As Goucher’s student body returned from winter break, some began noticing that most of the windows of the long-vacant Stimson Hall had been boarded up. This sudden care seemingly ran counter to Goucher’s policy of maintaining but not using the building, and prompted speculation as to whether or not demolition was imminent.
According to Vice President for Campus Operations Erik Thompson, the windows were boarded up to keep out unwanted people and animals.
Since Thompson joined Goucher in the summer of 2020, he has been having conversations with his team about what to do with the Stimson building, which has been abandoned since 2019. Thompson, who describes himself as a “measure twice, cut once” type of person,” searched for a way to deal with the building that was both safe and practical.
Thompson noted that before Winter 2022, Stimson had been barred, but not boarded up. Although the doors were blocked by 2x4s, the windows remained open to pests. While acknowledging that boarding up the windows was more expensive than putting plywood across the doors, Thompson said that this was probably the safest way of resolving the pest problem.
Thompson also explained that despite the building being vacant, the lights still turn on at night since the lighting is connected to the same system as the heating, and the power remains on to keep Stimson’s pipes from bursting during the winter.
According to the Campus Master Plan website, Goucher’s Master Plan intends Stimson to be replaced by three new apartment-style residence halls surrounded by a large green space. Thompson, however, said that students should not expect to see Stimson gone or replaced anytime soon.
The building’s demolition will be covered in the 2024 Five-Year Budget, but priority will go towards renovating existing infrastructure and expanding Hoffberger Science. Thus, Thompson believes the building will be replaced no earlier than 2027, but he doesn’t anticipate work on Stimson going beyond the 2020s.
“[The college doesn’t] want to have an abandoned, boarded up building for that long,” he said.
Thompson could not comment on longstanding rumors that large amounts of asbestos prevent Goucher from demolishing Stimson safely, but he acknowledged that since the building was built in the early 1960s, there may be trace amounts. If any hazardous materials are found, the building will be razed in a manner that is safe for both the campus and the surrounding community.
Feature image of Stimson boarded up by Mira Abrams