Ten years after Lindenwood University opened its Belleville school, students on Friday moved into a brand new dormitory, the first for the campus.
"It's really a beautiful place," 21-year-old senior Madison Farrier of St. Peters, Mo., said. "The people who get to live here are so lucky. There's so much more room and it's much less crowded than what we're used to in some of the other places to live."
Built on 23rd Street next to the Illinois State Police crime lab currently under construction, the female-only dorm has 25,000 square feet of space. Lindenwood Dean of Students Angela Wingo said each room houses three students. Each resident has her own bed, desk and closet. There is a community restroom and shower, and a television lounge on every floor. A state-of-the-art fire suppression system and video surveillance system are in place to help keep the building safe.
Wingo said most of the 200 students who moved in came from the Lynx Lodge, a former motel next to Fischer's Restaurant that the school bought and turned into student housing. Others came from houses and an apartment building near the campus that the school bought and turned into student lodging.
Farrier lived in Lynx Lodge. While she said the Lynx Lodge wasn't a bad place to live, she thought the new dorm would be a more useful tool in marketing the school to prospective students.
"The Lodge was fine. It got the job done," Farrier said. "But people were always asking me, 'You live in an old hotel? What's that all about?'"
Lindenwood Belleville campus president Jerry Bladdick said the dorm, which increases the school's student housing capacity from 600-800, is expected to make it more attractive to young students.
"It's a more traditional college setting with more structure that we believe will appeal to incoming freshmen and their parents," Bladdick said. "Most of the students who live there will be freshman or sophomores."
Students were enthusiastic about making the move despite temperatures in the 20s, icy sidewalks and falling snow.
"The move went smoothly, despite the bad weather Friday, because of forward thinking and preparation," Wingo said. "Everyone did a good job of doing their part to get things done."
It was important to get the move Friday, Wingo said, because Lindenwood Belleville starts finals next week and then goes on winter break.
Sophomore Catheey Eggert, 19, an education major from New Lennox, Ill., said she didn't mind the building or the room when she lived at the Lodge. But she said Lindenwood-Belleville student housing had become a little too crowded with the school's massive growth over the past few years. Until Friday she was living in a suite with six girls.
"The new dorm is great and I really like it," Eggert said. "But the thing I like the best is that I have my own desk and some more space. I feel like I am a lot more organized now and that's going to be a big help."
Eggert said the male students will benefit from the new dorm, too, in that they'll inherit the space the women took up at the lodge.
And Bladdick said even more space is on the way. A new male dorm is going to be built across West Main Street from the campus and it will be nearly identical to the newly opened female building.
The dorms cost about $4 million each to build. Lindenwood has spent about $25 million to expand, upgrade and renovate the former Belleville Township High School West campus.
About 1,900 students attend Lindenwood Belleville, which opened 10 years ago on the former campus of Belleville Township High School West. About 1,040 of them are full-time day students. The school recently dedicated a new communication center and turned the high school cafeteria into the Sen. Alan Dixon Student Center. Bladdick said Lindenwood hopes to eventually reach 1,200 full-time day students and 2,400 students overall on the Belleville campus.
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2626.