The Concordia University Chicago Board of Regents and administration have recently decommissioned Gross Hall, with plans of demolishing the building. The project is estimated to begin in April 2022. This work sets the stage for future opportunity as the University remains dedicated to the improvement of the student experience and reinvestment in campus facilities. Later this year, the University will share details of its new Campus Master Plan, which sets out an ambitious and exciting 20-year strategy to redevelop the River Forest campus.
Upon formal approval and permits received from the Village of River Forest, the project will take approximately 14 weeks, after which the building site will be converted to additional green space. The building will be demolished with sustainability in mind—it will be carefully dismantled, so that its materials can be salvaged for reuse elsewhere in the community and region.
Gross Hall was built in 1969, designed to house 206 students. It was the first of the University’s buildings to rise more than three stories above the ground. Being set at an angle was unique at the time, and provided a fresh perspective against the traditional grid layout of the rest of the campus buildings. “The naming and dedication of Gross Hall in 1970 served as a reminder and example of the continuous thread, since its beginning, in the mission of Concordia-Chicago of preparing Lutheran teachers and pastors—church workers—for service in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod,” remembers Mrs. Carol (Gross) Schmidt. “This thread continues at Concordia-Chicago with renewed, increased interest at the present time.”
Carol’s father, Dr. Herbert Gross BS ’25, was a longtime Concordia faculty member, serving as a professor of geography from 1940 to 1976 and editor of the Lutheran Education Journal. In 1925, when Dr. Gross was an undergraduate, he and fellow student Gerhardt E. Rast BS ’25 founded The Spectator student newspaper. The building was named in honor of Herbert and his brothers, Arthur BS ’19 and Walter, as well as their father John M. Gross, an 1885 graduate of Addison Teachers Seminary—all of whom were dedicated to supporting Lutheran education throughout their lives.
More specific details and dates will be communicated in the weeks to come. In May, a Forester story will commemorate the Gross family and look back on the history of the hall.