October 6, 2009

The things they carried (out of the Shoreland)

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Jena Cutie, a third-year who lived in the Shoreland for its last two years, took four chairs, three bookcases, a desk, a small table, cushions, two lamps and a handcart, which she used to take the furniture home.

“This is so much better than going to Ikea,” she said, standing next to the pile she’d made on South Shore Drive. “Only it’s a scavenger hunt. And free.”

She, along with 50 or so other students and bargain-hunters, were allowed back into the Shoreland one last time Saturday afternoon to take whatever they could haul out of the former dorm, in preparation for MAC Property Management’s disposal of most of the historic hotel’s furniture.

They took drawers, plates, tables, cutting boards, chairs, shades, rugs, house signs, room keys, a computer, couches and a piece of the building’s façade. Anything from floors 3 to 12 was fair game.

Third-year Marissa Washington watched over the stream of students and neighbors clamoring for a spot on elevators going to the upper floors—where the best loot was, they said. Washington had contacted MAC over the summer for beds they could donate to city homeless shelters but decided last week to see if MAC would let students in as well.

“My friends kept telling me that their apartments were barren,” Washington said. “After dealing with MAC before I figured, what are they doing with all that furniture?”

Washington persuaded Peter Cassel, MAC’s director of community development, to open the building from noon to one on Saturday. “Go in, go out, whatever you can carry out yourself is yours,” Washington said.

Cassel stood in the Shoreland’s threshold, stopping anyone from entering who didn’t get there by 12:30 p.m. He directed traffic as students lugging larger pieces nearly ran over those waiting in line.

He said MAC had salvaged “a good bit of furniture” from the former dorm and gave away 1,000 pieces to Inner Voice, a Chicago homeless shelter. After he closed the Shoreland’s doors—for the last time to students until it is converted into graduate student housing­—Cassel said one more charity would be allowed in, and then remodeling would begin.

Second-year Alex Greene thanked Cassel as he carried one end of a couch, in a rush to get it and the rest of his salvaged furniture out the door before the one o’clock deadline.

“When you speak of MAC, speak well,” Cassel said after he rushed by.

Soon after the deadline, students were still lined up in upper-floor elevator banks, deciding whether to wait for the elevator—and risk being locked inside—or grab a couple chairs and run down the stairs, abandoning the rest of their booty.

“This table is tempting,” third-year Andrew Brian Griffen said to his friends. “It could turn my extra room into a tearoom, but I don’t know if I can get it out in time.”