The St. Joseph Fire Department hosted a controlled burn Aug. 3 at the Idzerda House, located on the south end of the College of St. Benedict campus. A controlled burn is when a fire department burns a structure to practice and prepare for firefighting. Avon, Waite Park and St. Cloud Technical College students also participated in the event. Various practice burns took place starting about 8 a.m. Combustibles were loaded in and the final burn started about 11:30 a.m. and most of the house was burned within an hour. High plumes of smoke brought a steady stream of onlookers driving through campus. A number of people lined the perimeter and watched for various lengths of time. Also, ironically, the man for the whom the house was named, Stanley Idzerda, died three days later on Aug. 6.
The Idzerda House was built in 1959, using an original design including broad cantilevers and a significant wooden beam structure. The house was purchased by St. Benedict’s Monastery in 1966, and four CSB presidents lived in the home between 1968 and 1996. CSB acquired the home in 1981 and named it for former president Stanley Idzerda who lived in the house with his family from 1968 to 1974. The Idzerda House became student housing in 1996, and the house accommodated 12 students during the academic year.
The house was being demolished due to structural problems. The cantilever structures had rotted over time, primarily due to the method of construction and design. The nature of the design and building practices of the era made any repairs or updates quite costly. In addition, the home was not energy efficient and, due to construction methods, could not be improved. After the burn, the area near the campus’ south entrance will be restored to grass. Furthermore, the college’s Campus Facility Master Plan calls for removal of the house to accommodate future renovation and expansion of the Haehn Campus Center.
The community building within Centennial Commons has been named Idzerda Community Center, honoring the legacy of Stanley Idzerda, CSB’s first non-monastic president. A dedication ceremony was held with the Idzerda family on July 12. Currently, 124 students live within the Centennial Commons townhomes and use the Idzerda Community Center for studying and socializing.