MacMurray College campus auctioned off, ending school’s 174-year history in rural Illinois

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JACKSONVILLE, Ill. – In March, MacMurray College made the decision to cease operations after 174 years. On Thursday, the campus was auctioned off to the highest bidders.

Williams and Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma held the public auction Thursday morning, which saw the townspeople of Jacksonville bidding on the 60-acre campus, which had been converted to 18 parcels of land.

“Well certainly, it is bittersweet,” said Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard. “We still wish MacMurray’s campus was thriving and the students and faculty were here. However, the auction went well in my eyes because there were a lot of local interests. People that we know here in Jacksonville and our community that are good people that will have good intentions for the use of the property.”

The MacMurray College Board of Trustees voted in March to cease operations.

“It was COVID-related, not COVID-caused,” said John Nicolay, chairman of MacMurray’s Board of Trustees. “Like a lot of small colleges, MacMurray had struggled financially in recent years with enrollment. We made the decision because some of the financing fell through that we were counting on that was COVID-related was sort of a last straw for us and we had to, unfortunately, make the decision to close.”

For MacMurray alumni, Thursday was a chance to see familiar sights like Rutledge Hall or Kathryn Hall, or Annie Merner Chapel one last time.

“I think people made lifelong friends for 50 plus years,” said Mike Sweney, Class of 1972. “We still are in contact with many of (our classmates) and gather all around the country sometimes on an annual basis just to get together to relive the old times as well as the new ones.”

They will know in the next few days if all of those bids went through and the completion of that sale and the finality of this all taking place before the end of the year.

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