I was scrolling through our Wesleyan University Google Alerts email recently when I came upon a surprising link–someone is selling the old MoCon sign. My first thought upon seeing this was Who on earth would pay $695 for an old sign??? quickly followed by Some student probably stole this when they demolished MoCon in 2010 and is trying to turn a profit almost a decade later. As baffled as I was by this listing on Housatonic Trading Co. (which “offer[s] a curated collection of antique, vintage and modern items including antiquities, jewelry, furnishings, art and decor”), it also seemed like an invitation to dive deeper into the history of MoCon.
Some of you current students (and recent alums) may be wondering, What on earth is MoCon? Worry not, Wesleying is here to dig up some WesHistory for you and teach you about a beloved and sorely missed Wesleyan institution!
Those of us on campus will notice a significant change to the Wesleyan landcape this year. That cozy little nook behind Hewitt where MoCon once stood now gives way to a smooth, steep slope. MoCon is gone.
Over on the Middletown Eye blog, Stephen Devoto has posted a video ode-to-McConaughy illustrating the demolition of MoCon from June 4th to September 6th of this year that’s really worth checking out. The video, aptly set to “The Great Unknown” by Dar Williams ’89, is available here. The full post is available here.
Also, here are some photos I took of ground zero earlier this week:
Today, the grass is finally starting to get green, even if in awkward patches. It’s interesting to note that no classes remain on campus who have ever dined within MoCon‘s glass walls. I’m going to be really corny here and say that MoCon lives on in spirit though because of the importance and remembrance alumni have ascribed to it.
Rest in Peace McConaughy Hall, 1962-2010
[Thanks Stephen Devoto for the tip & video]
In this second installment of the Demolition of MoCon Saga, we find McConaughy Hall now reduced to a pile of rubbish. The metal and glass cylinder that was exclusive to MoCon on campus, is no more.
Meanwhile, The Middletown Press seems to have just realized the issue now that demolition is already underway. Click here to catch up on some good ol’ townie Wes-hatred in the comments (the article has no new info).
More good pictures after the jump.
It’s the moment you’ve all been dreading. The life of McConaughy Hall, opened 1962 and closed 2007, has come to an end.
If you’re on campus this summer and see further developments with the destruction of MoCon and the paving over of its home on campus, send us pictures to weep over at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org.
[Photo Credit: Sandy Yudhistira ’12]
Seniors, it’s just about time for you to wrap up your work at Wes and ride off into the sunset with your fancy new piece of paper. There is, however, one last tiny bit of business to take care of before you graduate. (Let’s pretend you’re actually reading this on the Saturday before graduation.) As the last students to have experienced MoCon’s magic, it is up to the Class of 2010 (what what) to bring this magic to the next generation.
We’ve talked about MoCon’s lovable key players and the Mokes-inducing cuisine. But let’s be real here—MoCon was never just about eating. Eating is for state schools. In this last chapter of the MoCon Retrospective, let’s look back at what we actually did in the cylindrical dining hall where fun came to LIVE.
(THIS JUST IN: Roth announces MoCon’s death sentence on the one day of the year students are too blazed, err, distracted to notice. Sly bastard.)
It was easy to hold out idealistic hope for MoCon’s survival last month when Roth acknowledged widespread alumni concerns by postponing demolition and promising to review options—again—for possible alternative uses of the condemned dining hall.
Alas, it’s not to be. Despite the impassioned pleas of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner ’87 and a billion other very angry alumni (including McConaughy grandson Jim McConaughy ’68), despite the touching Wesleying retrospectives, despite the Argus list of potential MoCon uses (personal favorite: “create a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit”), despite the 1,589 members of a “Save MoCon” Facebook Group, and despite the spontaneous MoCon flash party, Roth has concluded, finally, that Mococalypse Now! is the only viable option:
In order to keep McConaughy as an active part of campus we either have to invent a need that the current structure could meet, or we have to re-build the dining hall as something else in order to “preserve it.” Dividing up its great open space for some specific purpose that is antithetical to its design doesn’t really keep MoCon, nor does replacing all its essential components for use as an outdoor pavillion. And the expense would be staggering… millions over the next few years.
Well, not quite. But he is delaying its demolition, in a hard-won victory for vocal alumni, including Matthew Weiner ’87. From a blog post today after meeting with Trustees (Roth’s words, my bold):
A topic that came up in various venues throughout the weekend concerned the future of McConaughy Hall. I knew the building well as a student, living just across from its front doors as a frosh. I remember with real fondness its grand staircase and wonderful light, and I also think back to some great parties and concerts I attended there. The building has been empty since I began my presidency, and since that time I’ve been trying to find an alternative use for it. The structure turns out to be terribly inefficient, and in great disrepair. Still, I had hopes that we might transform it (as we have done with Davenport and Fayerweather, and will do with Squash) for some community use.
I haven’t found an alternative use for MoCon. But given all the strong feeling, which I share, about trying to find alternative uses, I’ve delayed signing contracts for its demolition. The building has been here for almost 50 years, and I don’t take this decision lightly. But I also will not spend significant university funds every year without having a real function for the building. So, I am reviewing options (with appropriate professional guidance) one more time. I appreciate the input I’ve gotten, and I will be writing again soon on this subject.
Last night the student body kicked off some pre-midterms stress with an awesome flash party at Mocon. It was very short-lived – Psafe quickly busted the party – but definitely the event of the weekend. The party brought to mind other spontaneous celebrations like last year’s Exley flash party. From my (possibly incorrect) perspective, members of the senior class received texts to arrive at Mocon at 11:30, and the word spread to the rest of the student body. It was one of the those rare nights (recalling maybe Fountain’s golden days? or Election 2008?) where it felt like felt like the campus was united somehow – with the illicit nature of a tomb party but without the exclusivity.
Arriving in Mocon last night reminded me of what a treasure we are losing. Since I had only been to Mocon as a prefrosh and it was out of view in the back of Foss Hill, I had a tendency to forget about Mocon except for the yearly, crowded Waste Not sales. I think a lot of the exuberance of the event was from the site itself – which converted nicely into a dancing space. The event was also an example of that ambiguous “Keep Wesleyan Weird” sentiment – an awesome event that would only happen at Wesleyan (and is less controversial and silly than chalking.)
So good job seniors – Mocon has had at least one worthy send-off. If you haven’t already, join the Save Mocon facebook group. Alums, trustees, someone – please save Mocon! Last night showed that the student body does have a connection to the building – call it sentimentality, if you will – and the building has too many memories and architectural beauty to just demolish.
Speculate and share your thoughts in the comments. Dear readers, if any of you have PHOTOS of the event, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s not unusual for alumni to air grievances about controversial administrative decisions. It’s also not uncommon for famous alumni to pay tribute to their Wesleyan experience, either in words or financial donations. But for a hugely distinguished alum to publicly criticize a major administrative decision (i.e., MoCon demolition) feels strangely unique.
Matthew Weiner 87 (or someone pretending to be him), best known as creator of Mad Men, left the following comment on a recent Argus article detailing MoCon demolition plans. Scroll through the full comments for some further compelling alumni perspectives.
“A college should always be stable, but never standing still.” —James L. McConaughy, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., LL.D.
In the beginning, it wasn’t called MoCon. It wasn’t even called McConaughy Hall.
No, when that giant spaceship-shaped monstrosity dining hall first opened its doors in September 1962, it was simply known as the “Freshman Dining Hall.” And that’s what it was; upperclassmen had far classier places to eat: their frat’s eating club, most likely (sup, Chic Chaque?), or Downey House, which apparently served food in the Pre-MoCon Era (is this common knowledge?).
A September, 1962 Argus article (Air Conditioning, Private Dining Rooms Features Of Modern $1,330,000 Foss Hill Dining Area, page two) celebrated the opening of this “ultra-modern structure” to the Class of ’66 on September 16 of that year. Worth highlighting: Blaikie, Miller, and Hines, Inc was the food provider; individual meal costs were $0.75 (breakfast), $1.00 (lunch), and $1.50 (dinner). O 1962, how we miss thee.