Razing Haussler

Visit bradley.edu/hilltopics/go/haussler to share your memories of Haussler Hall.

By GAYLE ERWIN McDOWELL '77

Since Bradley’s expansion plan was unveiled in 2006, the Hilltop has been modernized and beautified with four eye-popping new buildings. In May 2011 it was time for one to come down. Haussler Hall, constructed in 1974–75, was demolished to make room for Bradley’s new west Alumni Quad. 

Especially for student-athletes and physical education majors, the 80,000-square-foot rec complex holds a host of memories. “Haussler Hall was a second home for me,” says DAVE KINLEY ’81, a member of Bradley’s track and cross country teams who now teaches P.E. in Normal. “I just have the fondest memories of seeing the same people and instructors every day.”

The sparkling new $3.3 million Haussler complex was a major Bradley selling point for physical education major LAURA WILSON KOLB ’80 MA ’85. “I was there every day for four years,” she recalls. Kolb lifeguarded at the pool and checked IDs at the front desk. “It was all very cool and state of the art, but society has changed in fitness so much. Haussler wasn’t large enough for all the cardio machines,” remarks Kolb, a longtime P.E. teacher in Mossville.

Compared to the 1909 facility it replaced (Hewitt Hall), Haussler was regarded as ultra modern, but its design wasn’t ideal. “The indoor track was around three basketball courts,” Kinley recalls, “and we were always running into each other.”

When Haussler opened, Bradley students were still required to take physical education for credit, a requirement that ended in 1986. “It was busier than all get-out there with P.E. majors and non-majors,” says Mildred Caldwell, head of the physical education department until her 1983 retirement. Haussler accommodated a full schedule of classes, as well as intramurals. Offices for coaches and instructors were also in Haussler, but have been relocated to the new Renaissance Coliseum and basketball practice facility.

In 1985 Haussler underwent a minor facelift with a rubber floor in the main gym and new hardwood floors for the racquetball courts that saw heavy use. By 1999, the Student Senate was surveying students about a lack of cardio machines. Eighty percent said they wanted updated equipment and more of it. Now, the nearly 3-year-old Markin Family Student Recreation Center has twice the number of machines that Haussler accommodated. It has something else that Haussler didn’t: air conditioning.

Haussler Hall’s namesake was Dr. Arthur Glenn (A.G.) “Frenchie” Haussler, Bradley’s executive vice president and secretary who served as acting president in 1952–54 and again in 1960–61. Although fundraising wasn’t his primary duty, he developed Bradley’s deferred giving program and raised more than $500,000 each year. In his honor, the section of Glenwood Avenue that runs between Jobst Hall and the new coliseum has been named Haussler Lane.

Originally a high school P.E. teacher and coach, Haussler served on the board of the U.S. Olympic Committee for more than a decade. He died in September 1974, and his wife Helen died one year later, shortly before Haussler Hall was completed.

The architect’s rendering shows the 80,000-square-foot Haussler recreation complex. Morgan Hall is at the far left. An 11-week trade union strike in 1974 delayed Haussler’s much-anticipated opening until early 1976.

The architect’s rendering shows the 80,000-square-foot Haussler recreation complex. Morgan Hall is at the far left. Photo courtesy Special Collections Center, Bradley University Library.

Bradley president Dr. MARTIN ABEGG ’47 HON ’93 speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony as Dr. A.G. “Frenchie” Haussler, Bradley’s executive vice president and secretary, prepares to turn the first sod.

Bradley president Dr. MARTIN ABEGG ’47 HON ’93 speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony as Dr. A.G. “Frenchie” Haussler, Bradley’s executive vice president and secretary, prepares to turn the first sod. Photo courtesy Special Collections Center, Bradley University Library.

1. The weight room at Haussler was one of its most popular features.
2. Students could take swimming for credit until the physical education department was discontinued in the mid ’80s.

A “garage sale” in March allowed for a last look at Haussler and a chance to pick up mementos.

A “garage sale” in March allowed for a last look at Haussler and a chance to pick up mementos.

By June 1974, construction of Haussler Hall was under way. Bradley Hall and Morgan Hall are visible on Glenwood Avenue.

Thirty-seven years later, Haussler’s former site is on its way to becoming the new west Alumni Quad. The soon-to-open Hayden-Clark Alumni Center adjoins the back of Bradley Hall. When Haussler Hall was razed in May, materials such as concrete, steel, copper, metal siding, and light fixtures were recycled.

An 11-week trade union strike in 1974 delayed Haussler’s much-anticipated opening until early 1976.

An 11-week trade union strike in 1974 delayed Haussler’s much-anticipated opening until early 1976. 

The Hayden-Clark Alumni Center is seen through the remnants of Haussler Hall.

The new Hayden-Clark Alumni Center is seen through the remnants of Haussler.