The Voice: Spring 2003
The purchase of the Kuhl farm doubles the campus
By: Sally Jongsma
The Dordt College campus doubled in size over the past year. The college
purchased the fifty-five acre Kuhl farm located directly south of campus following a
generous stipulation in the will of Harry Kuhl, who passed away in December
2001. Kuhl, who has been Dordts neighbor since it was founded, gave Dordt
College first option to buy the property at current undeveloped farm prices. In
effect that means the college was able to buy the last remaining open
land adjoining its campus and received a half-million dollar gift in doing so.
The Kuhl farm was considered prime development land, since houses border its east
and west sides. Farmland prices are only a quarter of the price of
He was gracious in giving us the opportunity to buy at that price,
says President Carl E. Zylstra.
According to Zylstra, most campus buildings and facilitiesfor the foreseeable futurecan be accommodated
on the present fifty-five acres, so the Kuhl property gives the college the
opportunity to create open areas and green spaces on campus.
People used to joke that Dordt sat in the middle of cornfields. And
it did. But now we wont be able to see the cornfields, he
The sale was finalized already last fall, but the land continues to be
rented to the farmer who worked the land under Kuhls ownership.
This gives us an opportunity to re-conceptualize how the campus will look. Weve
received many plans and proposals with suggestions for what to do with the
land, says Zylstra. He believes it is unlikely that anything major will happen
until after the Jubilee celebration in 2004-05. One exception may be to move
some athletic fields to the north edge of the property, making room for
a parking lot closer to the B.J. Haan Auditorium. Parking, which was already
at a premium, is even tighter after the construction of the Campus Center.
For Zylstra, the Kuhl property does for outside campus space what the new
Campus Center does to inside space: gives the college community uncrowded and pleasant
areas in which to work and relax. Suggestions for features to consider have
included a prairie restoration area, fruit trees, bike and footpaths, and places to
sit. But while no planning has begun, Zylstra says the college plans to
take seriously Kuhls desire not to have the land covered over with pavement
Harry Kuhl loved his farm and did not want it sold for development.
But even though his lawyer, Dordt College alum Ron Oostra, specifically asked him
if he wanted to put restrictions on use of the land if Dordt
purchased it, Kuhl repeatedly told his attorney, I dont want to tie the
colleges hands. Zylstra appreciates that decision and says
that discussions about what to do with the property will take into account Kuhls desire that his land not be sold off for housing development and not be paved over.
I havent talked to anyone who wants to do either of those things,
says Zylstra, noting that the architect designed the Campus Center in a way
that opened up large sections of it to the small waterway that runs
through the northeast corner of the property.
Other consultants have seen and appreciated the natural features that the Kuhl land
contributes to the campus. Dreaming about possibilities, Zylstra says the college may want
to consider a south entrance to campus.
Theres a beautiful view of campus from the half-mile road south of the
property, Zylstra says as he looks out his window toward the land recently
And, he says, the college will likely draw the city into discussions about
possible cooperative uses for some of the property.