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Twelve Oaks makes space for new campus memories

By Zachary Araki
On July 10, 2017

The removal of Twelve Oaks is one part of a multi-phase project to introduce new housing on campus. The ballroom in the new Student Union replaced Twelve Oak’s function as a venue for events. This and maintenance costs rendered Twelve Oaks obsolete and due to be replaced. Memories have been formed at Twelve Oaks events including weddings and awards ceremonies. Hope rather than grief follows the removal of Twelve Oaks. Zachary Araki/The Lion’s Roar

Twelve Oaks leaves campus with memories and hope for the future. 

The removal of the Twelve Oaks building is part of a larger project crafted to answer the demand for more housing. A new Twelve Oaks Hall and a new Ascension Hall will replace Zachary Taylor Hall and add more beds. Demolition of Twelve Oaks started July 10.

“I think this is a very positive project for the university as a whole,” said Director of Facility Planning Kenneth Howe. “One of the main things is that since we built the Union, one of the number one entrance ways, especially for visitors, onto our campus is Texas Avenue now. When we do all this with the new buildings here and Zachary Taylor is gone and with Cayman and Twelve Oaks gone, it is just gonna completely change that whole corridor. I think it’s gonna be a great, inviting area for recruitment, retention and community pride.”

The residence halls will be built across the street from Twelve Oaks. Parking and gathering areas for students will replace Twelve Oaks. The residence halls are due to be moved into Fall 2018. 

“The full project encompasses several phases and includes the development of green space, configuration of parking lots, paving of walkways and the addition of adjacent plaza areas in addition to construction of two new residence halls,” said Executive Director of Public and Governmental Affairs Erin Cowser.

The entire project surpasses the removal of Twelve Oaks. Before the implementation of the plan, studies and analyses were conducted to evaluate this stage of the process. 

“The decision to remove Twelve Oaks was a part of the master plan that was driven by the completion of the Student Union,” said Cowser. “A part of the Student Union renovation and expansion project included creating additional event space and also relocating our food service operations on campus.  As such, the facility has not been utilized for the last couple of years.  In addition, the facility had exceeded its useful life and had significant maintenance issues that would make repair and renovation cost-prohibitive.”

Construction is not expected to impede passing traffic. Any construction that would affect traffic will be scheduled on low activity days such as the weekends. Parking spots taken up by the halls will be replaced during construction. 

“We’re taking up a number of parking spots where the buildings are being built, but when we finish with all the new parking spaces, which will be in the next academic year, we will have almost exactly the same number of parking spaces we had before we started the construction, within two spaces,” said Howe. 

Memories have been formed during the several events held at Twelve Oaks. 

“Twelve Oaks was great for its purpose at its time,” said Howe. “I know a lot of people have some great memories of Twelve Oaks. The new ballroom was built on the third floor of the new union which doesn’t have all the columns and the different things every few feet. It has a much taller ceiling. Almost all of the events that were once held at Twelve Oaks are now in the new union including the resident food service. They used to have the cafeteria. Now, the Mane Dish moved over to the new union. It was a building that really all of its main aspects have been replaced. The building itself is in grave need of repair, very expensive repair. I’m glad I have the memories there, but I understand it’s kind of reached its point.”

Ashley Royerre Talley, a university graduate and speech-language pathologist in Memphis, Tennessee, recalls attending the 2011 annual Southeastern Louisiana University Alumni Awards Evening at Twelve Oaks. 

“The recipients of the Alumni Scholarship were invited to attend, and I was one of them,” said Talley. “I had a great experience at this event. My parents were there. They are alumni, so they enjoyed seeing old friends and colleagues. In addition, I enjoyed listening to the Alumni of the Year speak as well as President Crain. Twelve Oaks was a nice, big open space to celebrate the accomplishments of Southeastern alumni and students.” 

Christy Nuccio, a front office supervisor at the North Oaks Pediatric Clinic, got married at Twelve Oaks in 2007. 

“I was very surprised and sad to hear that Twelve Oaks was going to leave campus,” said Nuccio. “I am sure that I am only one of many that have forever memories there, but I think everyone would agree that it really was a wonderful place. I guess the saying goes ‘All good things must come to an end.’ Twelve Oaks was definitely a good thing.” 

Though remembered, Twelve Oaks will not be mourned. Talley sees the project with hopeful eyes.  

“Although it is sad to see Twelve Oaks leave Southeastern as we know it, it will be transformed into something new that will better serve Southeastern students and the university as a whole,” said Talley. 

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