Evangel University is tearing down the last World War II-era wooden buildings near the campus.
The roof of the old gym at Glenstone and Division was damaged by high winds in December.
It’s expected to be demolished by the end of the month.
Here’s more on the history of the gym and Evangel:
The last WW-II era wooden building remaining near the EvangelUniversity campus is in the process of being razed.
Evangel is built on the site of the former O’Reilly Army Hospital, and the gymnasium on the southwest corner of Glenstone and Division is currently being removed.
The roof of the old gym was severely damaged by high winds during a storm on December 1, 2018.
The goal is to have the site cleared by the end of March, weather permitting.
David Rensch Construction is the demolition contractor.
“An Amish crew has been hired by the demolition contractor to remove whatever materials that they can re-use in lieu of hauling it off to the landfill,” said Brian Hauff, director of facilities. “This is one way Evangel has promoted environmental stewardship.”
The Amish men removed the metal siding last Friday and Saturday, and they began dismantling the post-and-beam structure this week.
Over the years, Amish workers have taken dozens of the old buildings from Evangel and reused the wood on a variety of their construction projects, according to Paul K. Logsdon, spokesman forEvangel.
“On the other hand, several of the barracks were put on wheels in the 1950s and ’60s, transported from the campus, and used for other purposes in Springfield and surrounding communities,” said Logsdon.
The former Aunt Martha’s Pancake House on South Glenstone is one, and Calvary Chapel, on the corner of Seminole and Lone Pine, was the chapel at O’Reilly Hospital.
History of the Land
Evangel University’s unique setting is traced back to the early part of the 20th Century, when it was the site of the Springfield Golf Course.
“We have a photo dated 1929 that shows the land between Division and Pythian was a golf course, except for the corner of Division and Glenstone. The photo shows a motor court there, facing what was then Route 66,” said Logsdon.
At the onset of World War II, the City of Springfield gave the land to the Federal Government, and it was developed as O’Reilly General Hospital, a treatment center for soldiers of the war.
Victims of the war effort — more than 44,000 wounded soldiers — were cared for at O’Reilly Hospital between 1941 and 1946.
It was temporarily closed after the war, but reopened as a Veterans Administration Hospital until 1952.
At the hospital, many pioneer techniques in plastic surgery were developed, and the hospital became the foundation of Springfield’s famous “Medical Mile.”
Near the end of 1954, two years after the closing of the Veterans Administration Hospital, parts of the land were awarded to local organizations.
The Assemblies of God received 58 acres of this land to build its new liberal arts college.
Today, the campus covers more than 90 acres of land, roughly half the area that O’Reilly Hospital once covered.
Evangel has removed most of the original O’Reilly buildings to help accommodate the college construction program.
Four residence halls, a library, gymnasium, married student apartments and cafeteria were built during the ’60s and ’70s.
The period of 1977-1981 saw great growth with the addition of football, and the school built two additional residence halls and the chapel.
After a 15-year break in building, 1997 saw the dedication of the first permanent academic building, Zimmerman Hall.
From there, growth was phenomenal — Evangel opened the Mabee Student Fitness Center in 1999, Crusader Dining Hall in 2000, the Cantrell Student Union in 2001, the Barnett Fine Arts Center in 2002, the Physical Plant complex in 2003, Trask Hall (the second academic building) in 2005, the Clock Tower and the baseball fieldhouse in 2006, and the Riggs Administration Building in 2009.
In 2013, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, located adjacent to Evangel’s campus and just south of the former O’Reilly Gym, consolidated with Evangel University.
The University most recently developed new athletic facilities.
The first portion is Coryell Field, a state-of-the-art turf football/soccer field installed in the summer of 2016.
LED stadium lighting was installed in 2018.
Evangel University, with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the church and society globally.
Evangel and AGTS serve more than 2,100 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 65 undergraduate majors and 19 master’s and doctoral degrees.