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Reconstruction of the Laurel Honors House

By Dylan Rouse
Photos by Andrew Persson

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NS- Laurel2 Notice anything new around campus? Construction has been taking place as renovations of Memorial Hall continue, but there is another addition to our campus that might have caught your attention. Located right across from the library is the property where the old Laurel Honors House once occupied; the house was demolished in September.

The property was purchased in July of 2003 by the BSU foundation and had been housing honor students until 2008. When concerns from students arose about the house that year, the university inspected the property and deemed it inhabitable for the students due to the serious need for extensive repairs and refinement.

“The house was in bad disrepair. It wasn’t meeting state or city safety codes and standards and it was determined that a new house was the most practical solution,” said Jeff Sande, physical plant manager at Bemidji State University.

Reconstruction of the new house has been going smoothly, even as the winter snow begins to coat Bemidji. Students from Northwest Technical College have been involved in almost every aspect of the building process. The construction program majors at NTC are all getting hands-on experience as they are responsible for the carpentry, plumbing, electrical, heating, and ventilation of the house. They will be facilitated by members of Kraus-Anderson Construction, the company that is also managing the Memorial Hall renovations.

Unable to accommodate students since 2008, the university was finally able to progress beyond the conceptual stages of development when it received considerable funding from the generosity of the Kraus-Anderson company in 2013. The BSU foundation, partnered with NTC and the Bemidji-based MJ Architectural Studios, has planned to finish the project by the end of the Spring 2015, weather permitting. Honors students will then have the opportunity to room in the newly renovated house for the 2015-16 academic year.

According to Travis Barnes, facility services supervisor at NTC, the new Laurel House will be a two-story residence with a full basement. The walls and roof will have Structural Insulated Panels which will help it achieve an Energy Star efficiency rating. The house will feature four bedrooms, one on the main floor and three on the second. It will also include two bathrooms and with approximately 1,200 square feet on each floor. It will create a sizable and substantial living space for four honor students.

NS- Laurel4The new living space will benefit the university by providing additional accommodations for these honors students, potentially increasing the amount of students in the Honors Program. Since 2008, when the old honors house was vacated, the honors students have been rooming in the top two floors of the Tamarack dorms. With a new residence available there is a possibility of attracting more honors students who will be motivated by the chance to live in this brand new house.

In order to have the chance of living in the Laurel House, located on corner of Birchmont Drive and 16th Street, you must be in the Honors Program. As stated by the Bemidji State website, students are invited to become a member of the program through their performance in high school. Students who are currently enrolled at BSU may also be invited through a recommendation by a faculty member or during their second semester of freshman year based on their academic performance during the first semester.

This means that whether students are currently in the Honors Program or not, there is still an opportunity for them to be invited to join. The potential to live in the new Laurel Honors House may be just the motivation students need to step up their academic performance. Becoming a member of this program is prestigious, but being the first occupants of the brand new Laurel Honors House, that would be quite the honor.