Caruthers Hall will be missed


Spending elementary years at the demonstration school on Salisbury University’s campus is a cherished memory for Susan Purnell.

There, she was taught in first to sixth grades by student teachers, and she studied and grew with 25 or so classmates, who have remained friends for more than 50 years.

The demonstration school was in Caruthers Hall, an academic building in the center of campus where thousands embraced the discipline of education, and where Delmarva Public Radio studio was housed.

Years passed and Caruthers aged. In recent weeks, it was demolished, leaving what one student was overheard as calling “a hole on campus” as she walked by. Most of the rubble has been cleared, but some equipment remains parked on the dirt, surrounded by a wire fence and strewn red bricks.

On that site, opening in 2016, will be the new four-story, 224,000-square-foot Patricia A. Guerrieri Academic Commons.

The structure will cost $111 million. Of that amount, $8 million was contributed by the Guerrieri Family Foundation, in honor of SU alumna Patricia R. Guerrieri.

Known as GAC, the building will have a new library, classrooms, two-story Internet Café, 62-foot atrium, Writing Center, Center for Student Achievement and Math Emporium, Faculty Center, Graduate Commons and Office for Instructional Design and Delivery.

College President Janet Dudley-Eshbach praised the building as an example of a “bold and ambitious initiative” and said it was designed to “foster synergy, community and creativity in learning.”

“It will be transformative for our campus,” the Dudley-Eshbach said.

“Our library not only serves our campus, it also serves a population of 210,000 in the four counties of Maryland’s Lower Shore. With potential for new programs at the popular Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture as well as other centers and services within, including the new Assembly Hall, we are hopeful that the Guerrieri Academic Commons will become a vital civic resource for our region,” she said.

The two-story cyber-café will offer dining and a place to study 24 hours.

Caruthers Hall opened in 1955, with E. Pauline Riall serving as principal of the demonstration school, formerly in Holloway Hall.

Demonstration schools closed in 1969, and afterward Caruthers was home to the education department, until 2008, when the Teacher Education and Technology Center opened.

The Franklin P. Perdue School of Business was in Caruthers next, until Perdue Hall opened in 2011.

Caruthers was named for Dr. Thomas Jefferson Caruthers, a founding faculty member and math and psychology teacher who, interestingly, was the grandfather of journalist Tom Horton. Horton now teaches environmental studies at SU.

The building’s history is rich, as are Susan Purnell’s memories of attending demonstration school there.

“It was wonderful. We always had student teachers. It was sort of a lab for student teachers,” she said.

She was philosophical about Caruthers being razed. “Oh, you know. Time marches on. And it hasn’t been a campus elementary school since the ‘60s, so it’s been a really long time,” she said.

Sentimental professors, students and employees can buy a brick from the building for $25 at the alumni house at 1120 Camden Avenue. Bricks can be ordered now, and will be ready in early summer. Call 410-548-2558.

Each brick will have a little plaque on the front with the words, “Salisbury State Teachers’ College. Demonstration school to Salisbury University. Caruthers Hall. 1955–2013” with an image of the building.

Purnell plans to purchase a brick, for the memories.

“It was an amazingly wonderful experience,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.”

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