OGDEN — Even if she’d been blindfolded Friday, Amelia Powers would have known where she was.
“I walked into Promontory Towers, and it smelled exactly the same,” said Powers, 29, a former resident of Weber State University’s 44-year-old residence hall, which is scheduled for demolition in July.
“It’s not a bad smell, just unique and identifying. It’s probably a combination of old building material and 40 years of really busy people.”
Powers and 50 others attended the hall’s final reunion last week.
The nostalgic crowd toured the facilities, sharing good, bad and funny memories of the aging residence hall.
Powers lived in Promontory Towers — PT to its friends — in the 2004-05 school year.
“My roommate and I met the day I moved in and is one of my best friends to this day,” said Powers, now a Utah County resident.
“We lived on the 11th floor, and I remember we had the best view of the electrical storms over the Great Salt Lake in the fall. The only place a lonely freshman could get cellphone reception was the lounge, and it had the best view of the purple, pink, yellow and orange lightning.”
Powers also remembers the building’s cafeteria, which closed several years ago.
“It was always an adventure to see what they cooked. We had crawfish one night, and two athletes from Louisiana were happy, but the rest of us were like, ‘Why does my food have eyes and feet?’ ”
Scott Wright, now chairman of Weber State’s department of medical laboratory sciences, lived in PT as an undergrad in the mid-1970s.
“I remember walking in and how tall it was,” Wright said of the 11-story building, which remains — a while longer — as Weber State’s tallest.
“I was actually in it, on the eighth or ninth floor, during an earthquake, and I remember it was swaying really heavily. All the students were running down the stairwells, stuck like a logjam, and we wondered if it was going to topple over.
“With so many floors, we had time for a long conversation on the topic.”
Modern seismic standards are one reason the building will be replaced rather than refurbished, said Daniel Kilcrease, director of housing and residence life who lives with his wife and three kids in Promontory Tower.
“From a seismic standpoint, it’s best to build new, but there are other issues. In the last 15 months, we’ve spent thousands on heating and the boiler to keep it functioning even for this year.”
Promontory Tower will be emptied in May and cleared of asbestos in June, prior to demolition.
The hall, with room for 168 residents, stands mostly empty this week, with many students already moved out and a few completing final exams before the Saturday deadline to turn in their keys.
The white-painted cinder-block hallways are silent, the downstairs lounge deserted.
“I came back to teach here about 30 years after I had left campus, and one of the first things I did was walk into the PT lobby,” Wright said.
“It hadn’t changed a bit. I remember a talent contest there, where I sang and played guitar and came in last out of 15.
“That was the last time I performed in public,” Wright said, with a laugh. “But the lobby was always a great place to come and talk to the people you lived with. A lot of friendships came out of that.”
Next fall, many PT residents will move into the new Stewart Wasatch Hall, being constructed to the immediate east.
Once the PT site is cleared, a smaller residence hall will be built there for a fall 2013 opening.
“I won’t miss the construction noise,” said Shawn Webb, a 22-year-old from Kaysville whose window offers a panoramic view of the hard-hat area.
“I will miss playing Mario in the lobby, and I did enjoy that I could walk to classes in five minutes, which let me hit the snooze button. It was farther to get to food at the Union Building.”
A Burger King is close.
“Oh, yeah, I’m never eating Burger King for the rest of my life,” he said.
Chelle Dowdle, 21, from Orem, also got a construction-side window.
“The noise has been obnoxious, but I will really miss the community here,” she said. “The communal bathrooms made it easy to make friends, but hard to keep secrets.
“I hate that we will be losing so much history. It seems incredible that 50 or 60 people may have lived in my room, but I like being part of a tradition.
“My little cell here will be nothing compared to the newer building, but I doubt the new building will ever have the community we had here. Then again, it also won’t have the asbestos.”
West Jordan native Katie Probert, 19, was childhood friends with roommate Payton Pola, 18, from South Jordan. Neither woman said she would miss PT, because of temperature fluctuations, an outlet that once threw sparks and a ladybug infestation.
“We used to flick bugs at each other’s heads,” Pola said.
Roommates Sarah Poole, 18, and Madeline Lambert, 19, grew up in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, respectively. Lambert is leaving to care for a grandparent, but Poole will return this fall.
“I’m sad to see the Promontory Towers go,” Poole said. “It’s the first place I ever saw my boyfriend. We won’t be able to go back to the place we met, and if we do, we’ll be seven floors too low.
“Plus, the new hall will have that ‘new building’ smell.”