Heritage Halls dorms at BYU have a long history of traditions

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As incoming freshman are thrown into adulthood when entering college, they can find comfort in the fact that they are not alone. BYU created Heritage Halls in the effort of helping students to have a smooth transition as they leave high school and enter college.

Heritage Halls has been a prominent housing choice for many incoming freshmen over the past 60 years. With new buildings opened last fall and other buildings set for construction soon, the university takes time to remember the history of these dorms.

Heritage Halls was completed in two stages of construction, one stage completed in 1953 and the other stage in 1956. The residence halls were named after 24 pioneer homemakers from LDS Church history.

According to an email from Julie Franklin, director of BYU Residence Life, Heritage Halls has a history of traditions. One tradition in particular that Heritage hosted for years was a friendly beginning of the year tug-of-war battle. Franklin said there was a canal that ran between buildings, referred to as “the moat” by students, where participants would stand on opposite sides to compete. Rival halls competed and the winner claimed bragging rights for the rest of the year.

Although the social aspect was a popular reason for students to choose Heritage, there were other important factors as well. The halls were built in an apartment style layout, including three shared rooms and a kitchen. The buildings’ layout and its proximity to campus are among the top reasons students chose to live there.

“I chose Heritage because it was cheap and close to campus so I could walk easily,” said John Franson, who graduated from BYU in 1991 with a degree in zoology. “I cooked my own meals and had to be responsible for myself.”

Lori Keenan, who graduated in 1986 with a degree in business, said she believes her choice to live at Heritage Halls helped her make a smooth transition as she entered college.

“[Heritage] gives students the opportunity to transition from high school to college a lot easier,” Keenan said. “I was able to be independent and cook my own meals and learn to take care of myself, but also have the security of roommates. Heritage helped me in that way.”

With two new Heritage buildings already completed and four more planned to be built, the old Heritage Halls is becoming a thing of the past. Franklin said the university’s students had out-grown the retro design of Heritage Halls and, therefore, they needed to adapt with the times. She said the new Heritage was designed to accommodate maximum flexibility and adaptability, and the students living there now are pleased with the outcome.

“BYU has always been cutting edge in providing for it’s students,” Keenan said. “They are always giving their students the best and I expect no less for Heritage.”

Although it may seem like Heritage Halls is being replaced, the initiative the university is taking to better accommodate students is a step in the right direction.

“As long as they allow students to be independent and have affordable, close-to-campus housing … it should maintain its original intent,” Franson said.