WMU prepares for archives construction on Oakland Drive Campus

Contact: Cheryl Roland

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University officials are gearing up for the next major campus construction project as the University begins building a long-planned new home for its University Archives and Regional History Collections on the Oakland Drive Campus.

Ground will be broken later this summer for a new facility that will be located near the intersection of Howard Street and Oakland Drive on the grounds of what was once the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. The new building will become home to the University's historical collections that are now housed in East Hall on WMU's East Campus.

Details on the new facility will be announced closer to the anticipated July groundbreaking. Funding for the project includes two significant private gifts.

The search for a new home for the collections has been a University priority for several years, and a number of locations were considered in the quest to find a spot that would ensure optimal storage conditions as well as easy public access for area residents who regularly use the collections.

The location selected is just north of Noble Lodge, once part of the KPH but not in use since 2005. Both the lodge and the 2.55-acre lot on which it stands were transferred to WMU by the state of Michigan in 2010. Careful analysis of Noble Lodge by a private engineering firm determined that the building cannot be renovated or adapted for reuse in a cost-effective way. It will be demolished this summer at about the same time construction on the new archive facility begins.

Archives and Regional History Collections

The Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections consist of historical University, regional and local governmental records. The holdings total more than 28,000 cubic feet, making the WMU Archives the largest facility of its type in southwest Michigan and one of the largest in the state. The unit has oral histories, census records, a research collection of books, magazines and newspapers, and several large photographic collections.