Ladies Literary Club sold to cut expenses


Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Andrew Jameson.

With the recent sale of the Ladies Literary Club, the last of Calvin’s downtown real estate has left the hands of the college. This spot was used to showcase “emerging artists who weren’t big enough for the CFAC” but could still use a platform to expand their brand, according to Ken Heffner, director of student activities. Calvin sold the property to 61 Sheldon Boulevard Real Estate LLC, who plans to use the space for various events.

Calvin made the decision to sell this building long before it was actually sold. At the end of last year, Event Services was told not to book any upcoming shows. This sale was part of a larger offloading of property owned by Calvin in an effort to cut expenses due to the debt discovered six years ago. The building, which reached its peak popularity during the 2013–14 school year, was expendable to Calvin.

“The college’s annual ownership and maintenance costs of this building were between $30-40,000, not including depreciation. That means that student tuition dollars were underwriting the maintenance and upkeep of this property each year,” said Sally Vander Ploeg, vice president for administration and finance. These costs became increasingly undesirable, especially because of the debt, so “due to the cost of maintenance of the facility, and the limited use over the years by the college, from a stewardship perspective, we felt the building could be better used by another owner,” said Vander Ploeg.  

According to Heffner, people in the Calvin community are not happy about losing the unique location. The Ladies Literary Club, said Heffner, was a vastly beautiful place downtown that attracted a great crowd of young people to view upcoming artists and other types of entertainment. It was certified as a national historic landmark, but this status also limited what Calvin was able to do with the building, which was another factor in the ultimate decision to sell it.

Sheldon Boulevard Real Estate, the entity that now owns the property, is planning to use it for various events. It is currently being renovated in preparation for LaughFest, a comedy festival, in 2019.