G.R. Imbach Business Centre demolished

Imach Demo 2019

This week saw one of Prairie’s oldest structures, the G.R. Imbach Business Centre, come down, opening space for a new and revitalized campus for Prairie’s future. What has in recent years been called the G.R. Imbach Business Centre, was built in 1942, exactly 20 years after Prairie started classes. When it was built it was simply called the “Main Office Building”, and its three floors were the hub of campus life. The bottom floor of the building housed the Book Room, which was the largest distributer of mail-ordered books in Western Canada (or perhaps all of Canada), and the Prairie Print Shop. Before too long, Prairie’s Print Shop required more space, and moved to its own building. The main floor was home to all things financial, as well as to L.E. Maxwell’s office. Board meetings were held in the Main Office building, as well as Registrar’s services. On the top floor was the Bible School Library, an impressive selection of theological resources for its day, as well as spaces for studying; one for men and one for women as was the spirit of the day in a conservative, rural Bible College. The stairway was built on the exterior of the building, making for a chilly walk to visit the library on cold days.

When Founder’s Hall was built in 1967 the library was moved from the Main Office Building to the new hall, in order to be closer to both the classrooms and the faculty offices. The space formerly occupied by the library was used to make more offices, and the stairway was moved in-doors.

The Main Office Building was posthumously named in Gene Robert Imbach’s honour, after his unexpected passing in 1982. He was remembered for his leadership abilities, after serving, together with his wife Faith, in many various capacities at Prairie.

Once the Maxwell Centre was completed in 2007, all remaining offices were moved out of the Imbach Building, and the Maxwell Centre has become the new hub of campus.

The demolition process for the Imbach Centre has been in the works for years, with active work beginning in July on the inside, and the structural tear-down started on Monday and finished by Tuesday afternoon. A small crowd was in attendance on Monday for the initial swing of the demolition bucket, and for a final salute to a building that served its purpose well in its time.

President Mark Maxwell notes that “Remaining static in our facilities has begun to compromise our mission…We need to remove buildings that we can no longer service and ensure that those remaining adequately meet our needs from a learning and community perspective.”