Pickard Hall

Pickard Hall as it stands today on Francis Quadrangle.

The long saga of Mizzou's radioactive Pickard Hall may soon come to an end.

University of Missouri officials announced today that the historic red brick building overlooking Mizzou's Francis Quadrangle will be demolished within the next two years, more than a century after it was contaminated by radiation.

Pickard Hall has been closed since 2013 under the guidance of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission due to radiation left over from experiments by a former MU professor. Demolishing the building will cost the university about $12 million, said Christian Basi, university media relations director.

"This is not a decision that we have come to lightly and has only been made after years of studying the situation and determining that there was no other alternative," Gary Ward, vice chancellor for operations, said in a press release.

At beginning of the 20th century, radium, a glowing, so-called "miracle element" became a sensation. Dr. Herman Schlundt, the namesake of one of MU’s current halls, started playing what he called the "radium game," shipping thousands of pounds of radioactive dust and sludge to Columbia. 

Schlundt experimented with and refined as much material as he could, shipping newly purified radium to some of the biggest radium corporations in the country. In the end, his experiments would not only be a probable factor in his death, but would require decades of cleanup and monitoring.

According to the NRC, while Pickard hall is not considered dangerous to the public, it is no longer fit to house any MU departments, as a few areas remain radioactive. 

We've created a timeline to catch you up on the last 127 years of MU's complicated radioactive history and update you on what's next.

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