A Love Letter to University of Delaware’s Christiana Towers
UD student Julia Lowndes reflects on her time in the nearly 50-year-old high-rise dorms, which are slated to be demolished later this year.
Due to their age and financial burden, the two Towers will soon tower no more.//photo by jim coarse
Former Delaware Today intern Julia Lowndes, who worked for the magazine during the fall 2018 semester, is among the last University of Delaware students to live in the Christiana Towers dorms, slated to be razed later this year. Because of her unique perspective on the high-rise dorms’ demise, we invited her to share her recollections of this unique campus space.—The Editors
Stand anywhere on the University of Delaware’s north campus and look up. Chances are, the Christiana Towers are looking down at you.
For now, that is. Due to their age and financial burden, demolition looms in the near future for these two local landmarks. As a student who lived in East Tower for three semesters, this feels a bit like saying goodbye to an old, slightly clunky friend.
Built in 1972, the Towers are not quiet against the classic, mature brick of the surrounding campus. With flashing lights of radio towers and endless windows, they’re kind of hard to miss. I like to think of them as an outdated ode to modernity. Like a time capsule, East and West Tower show us what UD imagined for its future.
Now, nearly five decades later, I find myself one of the last students to live in the Towers. Next fall when I am a senior saying goodbye to UD, all of Newark will be saying goodbye to the Towers alongside me.
With so much history packed into the Towers, I feel some responsibility to speak of their beauty. As I’m among the last who will see it, perhaps I should document the charm of the hallways or the fresh smell of the laundry room. I would love to write a celebration of their timeless grace but to be fair, this wouldn’t be true.
When I moved into East Tower in late August 2017, I wasn’t in awe of the speckled red carpet or rust-stained fridge. The sofa with wooden armrests and the tiny kitchen sink were not what I imagined for my dream dorm. In fact, after three semesters, Room 1614 gave me plenty to complain about.
First it was the hornets that decided to move in with me and my three roommates. Then it was the way our power loved to keep us on our toes by shutting off without warning. And of course the elevators, which needed plenty of rest after carrying generations of students. Sure, there were rumors of black mold, but did anyone ever really see it? Either way, in Room 1614 we were safe from that.
As it turns out, we were safe from a lot of things in 1614, like the thunderstorms that rolled over campus and put on a personal light show. It might have been a pain to climb 16 flights of stairs when the elevators were broken, but that climb brought us much closer to the clouds.
And no, the wooden armrests didn’t scream comfort, but the nights I spent there with my best friends were some of my warmest. There are precious moments in college that make you realize how short it truly is and how lucky you are. Room 1614 saw plenty of those.
On our last night there, my roommate and I sat together and stared out the windows. There were no thunderstorms that night, just skies so black we could see ourselves reflected in the glass. Slowly, we began to talk about all that had happened in our room. The era of infamous “Jersey Shore”-themed parties and impromptu fashions was over. We couldn’t let it go without seeing it play before us one more time.
The next morning, as I stuffed my final pillow into my car and slammed the trunk shut, I was no longer a resident of 1614. Our room was no longer ours, but everything it had brought us was still with us. The new friends, the love, the nights that blended seamlessly to the next.
Before I drove away, I gave thanks for those memories and for the thousands of stories before mine. I took a quiet moment and I looked up.