Why Are There Random Greek Pillars on Stadium Drive in Kalamazoo?
If you've driven around Kalamazoo, specifically on Stadium Drive, you've most likely noticed a couple of colosseum-like pillars standing tall on the corner of Lovell Street and Oakland Drive.
I've personally driven by them dozens of times and have never thought twice about them. But, they do seem a bit out of place, don't they? Recently, in the Facebook group Vanished Kalamazoo, Cyndee W. asked,
Does anyone know the origin of the pillars on Lovell and Oakland drive by Kalamazoo College and Western?
I'm glad someone asked a question that I had never thought of. So, what's the deal with these pillars?
People in the comments had some input on the origin of the pillars. Keith H. wrote,
Kalamazoo Gazette, 1 June 2009 - Columns that rise from a triangular green space at the corner of West Lovell Street and Oakland Drive now mark the west gateway to downtown Kalamazoo.
I did search for this specific article Keith was referencing but, nothing popped up. However, I did find a 2008 article from mlive.com that claims the pillars were actually meant to play off the architectural design of Western Michigan University's East Campus which is just up the hill:
Apparently, even in 2008, locals were complaining that the seemingly random pillars were an eyesore and a "waste of money". You can read the full article here.
Although, even now, people are not happy with the general appearance of the pillars and their surrounding landscape. A few of the comments on the above-mentioned Facebook post read:
Those pillars are in disgraceful condition and serve no purpose. - George P.
Waste of money on this structure. They should [have] left the lilacs. - Marie J. Evidently, there were a few lilac bushes that were torn down to make room for the pillars.
Seeing those pillars when I come into Kazoo always makes me laugh. They look so out of place! - Sue M.
The landscaping around the pillars is terrible. - Maury E.
Will They Be Updated?
The disappointing but honest answer is...who knows?
A comment from Jenn K. seems to indicate that they may be updated by Kalamazoo College:
They were installed in the Two thousands. That's k colleges land. It's going to change drastically according to K Colleges 2025 master plan that was approved by that city
But, browsing through that master plan, I don't see the pillars mentioned specifically. You can see the full plan here.
For now, it seems we'll all just have to wait to see. Or, just continue to absentmindedly drive by them as I, apparently, have been doing for the past two years.
Without knowing the history, driving past these pillars would probably make you scratch your head. But, in Michigan, there are a ton of odd sculptures that you can spot from the road. Check them out: