A 1992 survey of Rutherford as part of the statewide inventory of sites with historic significance concluded that the UGA structure met the criteria for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.
Supporters of historic preservation in Athens oppose tearing down Rutherford, which was designed and built by New Deal-era crews during the Great Depression.
The dorm is about the same size, and 20 years newer, than Ennis Hall at Georgia College & State University that the committee voted to spend $11 million renovating.
UGA President Michael Adams expressed personal disappointment in Rutherford’s demolition, saying he considers himself a fan of historic preservation. However, engineers advise it because the persistent seepage of water into the building not only caused it to sink into the ground on its foundation but also requires expensive dehumidifiers to be installed in every room.
“I just decided that I wouldn’t put any child in a building that I wouldn’t want my own child living in,” he said.
If the moisture problems could be corrected to make the rooms dry and mold-free, it would significantly drive up the cost for the dorm’s residents, according to engineering estimates.
Tuesday’s vote is the next to the last hurdle. The final step is a vote Wednesday by the full Board of Regents, typically a routine matter. The UGA Foundation has already given its approval as has the University System of Georgia’s internal review of construction projects.
Once the dorm is razed, the university intends to build a larger dorm on the same spot. Adams has promised to use a design that reflects Rutherford’s architecture and possibly incorporate some of it major structures, such as the stonework.