Filed Under Student Spaces

Korouva as Memory Place in 2023

In May, 2023, when the Placing Memory project began, Korouva Milk Bar was located in the Field House on the western edge of campus in a state of limbo, a relic from a lost time. Korouva was an exclusively student-run café and organization that opened in 1994 and closed its doors in March 2020 as part of the initial COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and had sat there frozen in time ever since.

I went to the SUPD office that shared a wall with Korouva and asked an officer to be let inside to do an analysis of it as a memory place. The officer ended up being Southwestern’s Chief of Police, Brad Dunn. He was happy to come with me and share his memories of Korouva when it was open. He reminisced about the two campus cats the café staff used to take care of, named Madeline and Squinty. Chief Dunn seemed to have had a connection with these cats himself, because he was reluctant to tell me that they had both since died. He also told me about how his daughter used to like going there when she was a student at Southwestern only a few years ago. He then told me about the back patio that used to exist and how students enjoyed hanging out there. Unfortunately, the patio had to be removed after taking damage from a falling tree, one of the many casualties of the winter storms in the early 2020s that killed or injured many of the campus trees.

No action had been taken to remove the Korouva logo painted on the front door. Inside, the building sat as it had since it shut down, a ghost of its former self. Most of the objects inside had been left exactly where they were 3 years ago, including menus, wall and ceiling art, the cash register, photos of campus cats, and a variety of random items like a late 90’s TV with a copy of Citizen Kane on VHS placed on top.

The space was being used to repair and store Pirate Bikes over the summer. To make room for this effort, the furniture that once spread across the common area was now piled up against the back wall. It formed an odd mix of abandoned memory objects disrupted by dozens of pirate bikes in the middle of everything. I felt like I was standing in an area that had been frozen since 2020 (aside from the pirate bikes).

Chief Dunn told me that the Student Life department had originally hoped to reopen Korouva once students could return to campus, but that never happened. Instead, the building where it was located, the Old Field House, fell into disrepair and was slated to be demolished as part of the current Facilities Master Plan. In May, 2023, President Trombley announced “the return of the beloved Korouva Milk Bar” was planned as part of the construction of a new mixed-use residence hall and welcome center on the east side of campus. When that happens, the old Korouva based in the Field House will not only be a relic, but a ghost...

Images

Chalkboard Menu Frozen in Time Menu directly to the right of the front entrance of Korouva Creator: Max Colley '24 Date: 2023
Furniture Piled in Korouva Furniture piled against the rear wall of the common area with leftover salty "welcome back" messages in background from Spring 2020 before COVID lockdown. Creator: Max Colley '24 Date: 2023
Old Korouva Cash Register Cash register surrounded by various items Creator: Max Colley '24 Date: 2023
Old Korouva and Pirate Bikes Location of former back patio, carved wood logo, pirate bikes, and mural of a cat Creator: Max Colley '24 Date: 2023
Madeline the Cat Picture in Korouva Printed photo of Madeline the cat on bulletin board to the left of the front entrance Creator: Max Colley '24 Date: 2023
Squinty the Cat Shrine Printed photo of Squinty the cat on bulletin board to the left of the front entrance Creator: Max Colley '24 Date: 2023

Location

Metadata

Max Colley '24, “Korouva as Memory Place in 2023,” Placing Memory, accessed July 25, 2024, https://placingmemory.southwestern.edu/items/show/6.