Former Hope College Music Building
By Joshua Briggs
An ambition of late professor of music J.B. Nykerk, Nykerk Hall serves students studying the musical arts. Since its opening in 1958, Nykerk has undergone renovations and expansions. A new musical building, the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, is scheduled to open in fall 2015.
Dr. Nykerk’s Aspirations
“Music: by its influence the heart as well as the intellect is reached…it stands pre-eminent in its two-fold power, as a lever to raise mankind to a higher plain of living.”
J.B. Nykerk, professor of music at Hope College, delivered this memorandum in a June 1890 article of The Anchor newspaper. Proposing that music should occupy a position at the forefront of undergraduate education, Nykerk implied that Hope College’s music program was deficient. Unfortunately, Professor Nykerk passed away in 1936 before his aspirations for a music program at Hope were realized.
Early Years of Nykerk Hall
In 1956, a headline appeared in The Anchor, with the subsequent article announcing, “Bids for the music building designed by Corton and Knecht…will be opened today.” The project was not a small one. The article continued: “The building…consists of a band-orchestra hall with a capacity of 150, two classrooms, seven faculty studios and fourteen practice rooms.” Finally, Hope College would have a substantial music program.
By 1958, the building was finished and christened in honor of Professor J.B. Nykerk. Other institutions were inspired by the building in program. An October 1958 article from The Anchor stated that “many visitors from similarly sized schools have come to observe our advanced building and program, with thoughts of starting similar programs.”
In October 1970, a new music hall, Wichers Hall of Music, was dedicated. In the 34 years since Dr. Nykerk’s death, the music department at Hope College had burgeoned so much that expansions were now required. In 2000, an organ was added.
For more than 50 years, Nykerk Hall has housed thousands of music students. In 2015, the infrastructure will be repurposed and updated to encompass a new student center for the college. The music department will live on in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts.