Val Hale, vice president of the university relations department, worked with a few other faculty members as well as the Bunnell family to work out what to do with the cherished, decaying house.
The 120-year-old relic has tried on many hats over the years, including those of a museum and a trendy café, but nothing has stuck due to funding.
“President Holland wanted to keep it. He tried fundraisers to get the money to move it,” Hale said. “He tried coming up with uses for it, but no one wanted to deal with it.”
Moving or refurbishing each required over half a million dollars, which was not exactly what the school had in mind for the Bunnell budget.
Conveniently situated right in the middle of the busiest part of campus, near the Sorenson Center and the LDS Institute building, the house has watched the university rise to glory for the last century, and still stands as one of the oldest buildings in Orem.
However, this fact hardly helps its case. Even if the university continues to ignore it and build in the vicinity, ancient brick walls built on a granite and sandstone foundation are asking for disaster. As soon as piles are driven into the ground for construction in the area, engineers predict that the precious piece of history will come crumbling down.
For a long time, no one knew what to do about it. The Bunnell family didn’t want to see the house their ancestors grew up in bulldozed, and raising the money didn’t seem to be working out nearly as well as they hoped.
Then the idea of a reproduction arose. Hale proposed the idea to the family that they could rebuild a smaller version of Bunnell house somewhere else on campus, out of the way. The family was overjoyed.
“It will be about half the size of the old one, but it will have the same door, the same windows, the same bricks from the original house,” Hale said.
While the other plans for the house required much deeper wallets than anyone could pull out, the replica of the house is not only affordable, but leaves enough resources to create a scholarship from the leftovers.
According to Jim Michaelis, associate vice president of facilities planning, the new miniature house will be constructed near the Sparks Automotive building; leaving a spot where the old house is, free for the new Student Life Center. The replica will serve as a museum of the times the original house experienced, with plaques and remnants available for public viewing, carrying on the legacy of the house that saw it all.
Assistant News Editor