University of Nebraska-Lincoln Demolished in style

LINCOLN — Close to 10 blasts burst through the cold morning air Friday and two old University of Nebraska-Lincoln residence halls crumbled seemingly in slow motion as dirt and smoke rose.

Some 1,000 spectators in and near a parking garage four blocks away murmured in surprise at the sight, then cheered as though at a rock concert.



And that was the end of Cather and Pound Halls, 54-year-old high-rise dorms at UNL.

Residence hall life is an important time for many, much like summer camp or a person’s first crush. Cather and Pound now are rubble along 17th Street, but the memories created there will live on a long time.

UNL officials said a quick review of the area revealed only two broken windows in two nearby buildings. So “from everything we know, all went as planned,” said Sue Gildersleeve, director of UNL housing.

UNL official Grant Watson noted another consequence. “We do have some very disoriented squirrels running around,” he said.

UNL freshman Kailey Claussen of Omaha was among the hundreds on the top floor of the parking garage northeast of the implosion.

Claussen remembered the recent failed implosion of the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan and didn’t want her university to experience a similar embarrassment.

“I was glad they fell,” she said of Cather and Pound.

Tom McManus, a Lincolnite and UNL employee who had worked on the project, said he wasn’t disappointed.

“I thought that was incredible,” McManus said of the implosion.

Gildersleeve never lived in those dorms, but she had still become attached to the university’s oldest high-rise residence hall complex. There were so many friendships formed there, she said, and married couples who met there.

“It made me cry,” she said.

Most who lived there had a slew of memories.

Beth Llewellyn McLaughlin, now of Fort Worth, Texas, recalled winning a couple of intramural softball titles while living in Pound in the mid-1970s.

Joe Kottas, who lives in Lincoln, remembered card games with his buddies in Cather in the 1970s.

Kottas watched a livestream of the implosion on his computer Friday morning in his office.

“Before the event, I thought I might get a little emotional, but it came down, and I was fine,” Kottas said.

Ken Zaroban of Nebraska City awaited the implosion on the fifth floor of the parking garage and recalled how guys used to play golf with two-by-fours and tennis balls down the hallways of Cather in the early 1980s.

The sun came out. The top of the parking garage was slick with ice. Some observers wrapped themselves in blankets. Some carried coffee, some had cameras.

A horn honked twice to signal that the implosion was coming. It honked twice again and a newsman said, “It’ll be about 45 seconds … ” Boom! Boom! Boom!

At a press conference, Gildersleeve said Cather and Pound would have been too expensive to renovate.

Posted on December 26, 2017 in