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The old library was built in the 1920s and is now unused. (Mount Allison University)

Some alumni at Mount Allison University are fighting to save a building that has been a part of the Sackville, N.B., campus for more than 80 years.

The red sandstone structure was built in 1927 as a memorial to students who died in the First World War. It was designed by prominent Maritime architect Andrew Cobb.

The building was used as a library until the 1970s. Since then it has been revamped to serve as the student centre and became a campus hub, housing the student union, radio station and pub.

The building is currently unused and the stone entrance is covered over with vines. It is being torn down to make way for a new Fine Arts and Performance Centre.

Bruce Coates graduated from Mount Allison in 1969 and said the old library was the centre of the campus and appeared on brochures and in advertising.

Coates and his wife are writing e-mails to rally other alumni to ask Robert Campbell, the university's president, to reverse the decision to demolish it.

"It's a splendid building that looks to be in exceedingly good condition and it's an important link to the past," Coates said.

"It's a building that all Mount Allison alumni relate to and it just has huge emotion associated with it, having been the library and student centre. It's one of the most important buildings on campus for many generations of students."

$5M bill would go to future students

Mount Allison vice-president David Stewart said the building is not in good condition and that architects found significant structural problems.

He said the administration wanted to keep it, but it needs $5 million in repairs. That would add to the price of the new centre and the cost would have to be passed on to future students.

Stewart said that was a move that could not be justified.

"We had to make a decision. We delayed making that decision for months while we analyzed this process and listened to people, but eventually we had to make our decision," Stewart said.

"We've made that decision and we're moving on with designs for this new centre, which is going to be a fabulous centre for Mount Allison and for Sackville and for New Brunswick."

Stewart said the president has received about 30 e-mails from people who want to save the building.