• Bray Wright

Demolition for MacKay Gymnasium Scheduled for Summer 2021

Constructed in 1927, MacKay Gymnasium has served Olivet College for 94 years. This summer, MacKay will be demolished to build a new Student and Collegiate Center in its place.

Though MacKay has long been a part of Olivet’s campus, it has not been in recent use.

According to Olivet’s website and demolition plans, the gym has been closed since 2019. Before that, it was only used by the women’s basketball team and for intramural sports, as the Echo reported in 2018.


Due to its age, MacKay is considered a historic property by the State Historic Preservation Office. However, Olivet has reported that “refurbishing the building…is economically unfeasible” and that “the building is unsuitable for any other function that supports the mission of Olivet.” The college did state that the new Student Center would memorialize MacKay Gymnasium in some way “to ensure its significance in the history of Olivet College.”


The demolition is planned to start this summer, according to Mark DeRuiter, director of business services and Interim CFO. The official demolition plans state that the demolition will take about two to three months to complete and has an estimated cost of $150,000. Currently, a demolition team has not been selected for the project.


Construction on the new building will begin immediately after demolition. Larry Colvin, director of facilities, said that the new Student Center would take about 18 months to complete.

The new Student and Collegiate Center will be a “center space where students can come together,” according to DeRuiter. The plan for the center was outlined during a Zoom meeting on Feb. 5. It will feature various study centers, a gaming room, and have late-night dining options for students. DeRuiter said it will be attached to Upton Gym, just as MacKay was, but will also allow for expansions to Upton.


Of course, the selection of facilities in the Student Center will depend on what is used. Colvin said during the meeting that the Kirk Center was the original student center, but certain facilities, like the bowling lanes, were not used and were removed as a result.

The new center will be funded in part by a loan from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program, said DeRuiter. He also said that the college is hoping to partner with Raymond James Financial for more funding. According to Raymond James’ website, they are one of the Top 10 bond underwriters for colleges and universities.


Photo by Jarel Evans

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