Search for Permanent Housing Solution Leads to Holiday Lodge Acquisition
As an answer to its pressing need for student housing, Wyoming Catholic College has purchased the Holiday Lodge Motel and Campground property located on McFarlane Drive, three blocks from the College’s Downtown Center.
“With this purchase,” said WCC Board Chairman Paul Powers, “the College now has the ability to own all of its student housing. The existing buildings on this beautiful four-acre property will accommodate approximately 90 students, and the College will begin phasing out of its rental apartments soon.”
Years ago, the student body at WCC outgrew the residence halls constructed on the grounds of Holy Rosary Catholic Church, requiring the College to lease apartments in various complexes around town.
“For a long time, we have recognized the rising costs of our student housing as a major financial challenge for Wyoming Catholic,” said Pres. Glenn Arbery. “The Covid pandemic accelerated that concern. Besides the financial burden of leasing residential space,” he continues, “it has been difficult to encourage the vibrant community-wide intellectual life we envision for our students. Now, we will be able to elevate the student experience with our own campus space.”
In addition to the four buildings at Holiday Lodge, there is ample outdoor space below the lodge. The College’s students have already begun to make use of the riverside grounds, even holding a class or two on the banks of the Popo Agie River as part of their Experiential Leadership courses. Senior Maggie Duffy says that “it was amazing to have an outdoor class on such a beautiful location here in town, where students could gather and reflect. It’s a great blessing for the College to be able to offer that restorative experience of nature, right in Lander itself.”
Senior Abigail O’Brien was also excited about the opportunities afforded by the new location. “I love having the meadow and the river the first thing students see when they wake up in the morning,” she said, “instead of just the manmade streets. This change will give us a more powerful experience of integration from our time in the backcountry to the front-country. And having more indoor common spaces at the residence halls will allow for a deepening of the College’s community.” Freshman Vivian Borges agreed: “It seems like we’ll be living a lot closer to each other, and I love that we get to keep the homeyness of the apartments while gaining the community of the dorms.”
This past summer, Chairman Powers spearheaded the effort to find the necessary funding for the purchase. “Wyoming Catholic College is so blessed to have donors who recognized the need and helped the College acquire this property,” he says. “Imagining our students, living just a few blocks from our downtown campus and looking out their windows at these amazing views of the Wind River Mountains each morning is a wonderful thought. And as the College continues to grow, I believe that this site will eventually accommodate a number of new student housing buildings.”
“Paul Powers was part of the team that built our first dormitories up at Holy Rosary when the College was barely started,” said Pres. Arbery, “and now he has helped Wyoming Catholic College yet again. We are deeply grateful to him and to the donors who made possible this major addition to our campus.”