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FAB Memories

Spring 2009 saw the last days of Whitworth's old fine arts building. The building, which was moved intact to campus after World War II, had become something of an eyesore, and its boho ambience dwindled further in the months before its demolition. With the Lied Center for the Visual Arts now providing a beautiful, modern facility for some of Whitworth's most creative students, the old building stood mostly empty and unused (though members of the English department took cover there while Westminster was being remodeled). When the wrecking ball finally made contact with the building's brick façade, few tears were shed – but the building, though never a beauty, held wonderful memories for many math and art students, as well as for the children of Whitworth faculty who worked there. Brian Gage, '91, who fits both of the latter categories and who calls himself "Child of the FAB, '69-present," writes of his feelings as the old building bites the dust.

Memories of the FAB (on the day it goes down):

As a student who existed within the walls of the fine arts building for four years, I would be the first in line with the sledgehammer to take a blow at the fine piece of craftsmanship known as the FAB.

While I made many good memories there as a student, with late nights spent creating and discussing art with the likes of [classmates] Clerihue, Campbell and Fish, I've now seen the new art building, and there will be no love lost as this WWII-era "temporary" building goes down.

As a child who grew up in this building during the 18 years leading up to my life there as a student, I see another story. This was the building where my father worked (and pretty much lived). Over his nearly 31 years of service to Whitworth as a professor of math and computer science, he and his life-force just existed there. Whether he was roaming the hallways looking for students or staff to discuss perplexing problems with, or holed up in his office meeting students to talk about life and computations that were causing them grief, he was always there. Even though he has been gone now for more than eight years, it's as if a part of him still resides there somehow and just never came home from work.

For this reason, the building is hallowed ground.

Somehow, a part of my dad still roams the halls seeking out students or just a friendly face to have a Coke with. For my sister, my mom and many others, when the FAB goes down one of the last remaining parts of my father and his life goes down with it. And for that, I have to pause with a bit of sadness as the building begins its end today.

So as the process of demolishing this duality of junk and sacredness commences, I ask that you pause for a moment to remember the life and spirit that once filled this building, along with so many others. Save us a few bricks...and memories.

Brian is the son of Howard Gage, who taught math and computer science at Whitworth from 1969 until his untimely death in 2000.

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