November auction set for MacMurray College campus

Updated 9/29/2020 5:57 PM

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. -- MacMurray College in central Illinois will put its real estate up for auction in November as it prepares to close at the end of the spring session following 174 years of operation.

A separate online auction currently underway is offering 600 items from the college located in Jacksonville.


MacMurray's board of trustees voted earlier this year to close the school after determining declining enrollment and rising costs gave the school no viable future. At the time of the March vote, there were 527 full-time students enrolled and 101 faculty and staff

Board chairman John Nicolay told The State Journal-Register in Springfield that ideally the college would like to sell the 60-acre campus as one unit. However, the college's real estate property has been divided into 17 tracts.

Cindy Dees of Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams & Williams Real Estate Auctions says the properties will be promoted across various digital and social media platforms, but they also will try to identify potential users for the various properties and contact them directly.

Nicolay said selling a college campus in central Illinois at this time is 'a difficult proposition.' He added the board had a duty to maximize the value of the college's assets and the campus is certainly one its biggest remaining assets.

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'We have bills to pay and we intend to do that,' Nicolay said, while declining to reveal how much the college owes.

Both Nicolay and Dees said there is interest nationally and locally in some of the properties. Dees did not elaborate on what specific properties have garnered attention.

Jess Spradlin of Spradlin Auction Center says items currently being bid on include furniture from the president's house and campus memorabilia.

The artwork of Nellie Knopf from MacMurray's collection is also on the auction block. Knopf, a naturalist painter and contemporary of Georgia O'Keeffe, was a longtime member of the college's faculty.

Methodist clergy founded the college as the Illinois Conference Female Academy in 1846. The name was changed several times, and in 1955 the board of trustees established a college for men. The two colleges merged as MacMurray College in 1969.

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