The Poplars Building, which has served as a dorm and hotel among other spaces on Seventh Street is being demolished due to costly maintenance issues after almost 60 years. The demolition started in August 2022.
The Poplars Building was originally built in 1964 to be a luxury dorm for female students at IU until 1967 when it transformed into a hotel. In 1972, IU purchased the building and converted it into office space. According to an article published by the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the building was the original home to the O’Neill School until 1982 when the school was moved to its current location on 10th Street.
Despite the demolition the parking garage next to the building will remain intact. In a meeting on Aug. 13, 2021, the IU Board of Trustees said the building had too many maintenance issues to justify fixing instead of just demolishing it.
Joe Varga said he is incredibly sad to see the building being torn down, and he will always have a special place in his heart for Poplars.
"I was in my office looking out over downtown when I got the call that my first book was going to be published, and a year later, the call that I had been promoted with tenure," Varga said.
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Like Varga, several people have worked in the historic building. Stacee Williams worked in an office in the building from February 2019 until October 2021 when her company moved to a new location.
"As a law office, we had to figure out how to keep our operations as private as possible for our clients," Williams said. "Many departments shared the space, and it took some time to adjust to that. Overall, it was a nice, comfortable place to work."
Williams said while most of the staff was working remotely for much of 2020-2021, she worked in her office in the building.
"It was easy to practice distancing because many people in other departments were working remotely, and I could close the door to my office," Williams said. "I felt lucky to have that space to go to every day."
When the Poplars building was a hotel, it even hosted Elvis Presley. Williams said one night she decided to look around his old suite.
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"I turned on some of Elvis’ music and looked around," Williams said. "Just as I was about to leave, the door out to the hall slammed shut. I do not really believe in ghosts, but that was creepy."
Williams was not the only one who experienced something creepy in the building. Veronica Brown said that she believes the building was haunted.
"The higher the floors got, the more eerie it felt," Brown said. "The basement was scary too. The lights would turn off when I walked down there."
Despite being a huge part of Bloomington and IU’s history, many people believe it was time for the building to go.
"The building was old and in need of repair," Brown said. "It was dated, and the windows were awful, so the area was always warm."
According to an article in the Herald-Times, the current plan is to turn the area into a green space after the demolition is complete.