Throwback Thursday – College Heights Foundation Building

The main campus landscape at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green is always changing. With construction and innovation comes the razing and remembrance of historic buildings and old hangouts. As part of the new WKU Commons at Helm Library plan, a 52-year-old building recently came down. This week we remember the College Heights Foundation building.

Born of an idea in 1920, when a student donated $100 to President Henry Hardin Cherry with the promise that he would use the funds to help other students in need, the university’s first philanthropic venture was born. It was Lalla R. Boone who donated that sum, equivalent to about $1,800 today. Thus, the College Heights Foundation was established in 1923. 

From 1926 until 1936, the foundation worked out of an old sorority house next to the Potter College Building. The most recent version of the College Heights Foundation building was constructed in the late 1960s and opened in 1969. The mid-century style building still sat next to the Potter College Building.

As part of the next phase of the WKU Commons at Helm Library, both the College Heights Foundation building and the 60-year-old Garrett Conference Center are being razed, creating a place for a new community space that students and faculty can eat, work, study and collaborate. The Helm Library itself has grown out of the narrow notion of being a basic repository for books alone. Instead, plans for the library are to morph it into an intellectual hub that stimulates engagement. 

Demolition of both buildings began the last week of May, while university students, faculty, and alumni curiously keep watch for signs of what’s coming next.