Housing History: 1917-1945
Posted: November 6, 2012
Gold and Welch residence halls circa 1920.
In the first part of the series on 125 years of student housing at NC State, we left you with the hurried construction of “The Shacks” as enrollment at North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (A&M) increased by leaps and bounds. In the second part of the series, we’ll take you from 1917 to 1945. It is helpful consider the state of the world as we begin in 1917. On April 6, 1917, the United States entered into the Great War, World War I, and in 1918 the world faced another upheaval due to a Spanish influenza epidemic that killed more than 40 million people worldwide.
In 1917, North Carolina A&M college was renamed the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering and new administrative positions were created to manage the growing institution. During the Great War, State College was a place of intensive military instruction and campus was utilized as a Student Army Training Corps. During the fall of the 1918 school year, 13 students and two nurses died of the Spanish influenza according to the Historical Sketch of NC State University.
From 1917 to 1920, student housing on campus included the 1911 Building, Watauga Hall, First, Second, Third, and Fourth Halls, Holladay Hall, South Hall, and the “Shacks.” South Dormitory sat at the location of the present day Syme Hall. The First, Second, Third, and Fourth Halls were located near the present day location of Holladay Hall, but all were torn down to accommodate growth of the campus. Leazer Hall served as the dining hall for students. While female students were allowed to take courses at State College during this time, no female students lived on campus until 1957.
From 1920 to 1925, Gold, Welch (formerly known as Sixth Dormitory), and Bagwell halls were built to provide additional housing capacity. It was also a time when the character of some of the students attending State College was questioned. According to Alice Elizabeth Regan’s book, North Carolina State University: A Narrative History, faculty expressed concerns about the impact of a student’s extracurricular activities and other aspects of student life. Their concerns grew when a graduate student in sociology published a study indicating that cheating was wide-spread and condoned by the majority of students. A faculty commission was charged to address the problem and it was their recommendation that student activities enhance the classroom experience to create a more meaningful “whole” student experience.
In 1923, to address some of the behavioral concerns, faculty initiated a system of room inspections and hall proctors to discourage rowdy, destructive behavior. Their goal was to encourage students to view the rooms as their home. Unfortunately this goal was not reached and the next step was to organize residence hall clubs under the auspices of the student government, thus creating the first hall councils. These councils created quiet study hours and made other efforts to improve life in the buildings. In 1924, student government began enforcing the regulation that said playing a phonograph after 7:00 pm was strictly forbidden since it interfered with the studying of other students.
Student services continued to improve through the 1920s as the first mailboxes were installed in each residence halls starting in 1928. Once these were installed, mail service was delivered twice daily with the exception of Sundays and holidays. Boxes, representing the rooms to which the students were assigned, were located conveniently at the entrance to each building. In 1930, telephone service moved from the campus YMCA to the residence halls. Daniel Murray Paul, the tenth president of Student Council, had promised this as part of his election campaign. Thus, 16 payphones were installed in the college residence halls. Students initially abused the phones and the phone company threatened to remove them should the situation not change. The phones remained.
The 1934 Dormitory Regulations sheet informed students that their fees included heat, water, janitorial services, and that the building would be kept in good repair. Electrical current would be provided for lighting between sunset and midnight. No cooking was permitted in the rooms and only one sixty watt electric lamp was allowed for each occupant of a room. During 1934, Gold Welch, Bagwell and Syme halls did not have hot, running water.
Even 80 years ago, NC State students found innovative ways to solve problems. When there was a power outage that caused the lights in the 1911 building to go out, students built a fire in front of the building to provide light inside. The Raleigh Fire Department sent two trucks to extinguish the blaze, with students cheering and encouraging the firemen while they worked.
Housing rules and regulations continued to be tweaked over time. In 1935, the Quiet Hour began at 8 in the evening and was in effect until the rising whistle the following morning. The beginning of Quiet Hour was indicated through the college signal system and it was considered a serious offense if disregarded.
Construction of new buildings to house students continued on campus. In 1939, Becton and Berry were built as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. In 1940, Alexander and Turlington halls were added, providing more space for students.
As college administrators recognized the different needs of college freshmen, Bagwell, Berry, Becton, and Clark halls were designated as freshman halls in 1942. All freshmen, except those living at home with their parents, were required to room in one of the on-campus halls. The amenities also improved as students were allowed to bring either eight or ten-inch electric fans if rated at 40 watts. Students were allotted a total of 240 watts and were charged an additional two cents per watt over the allotment.
In the next issue of the Wolf’s Den, we’ll take you through housing history from World War II and into the 1950s and early 1960s. Stay tuned!
- The information of the history of on-campus housing at NC State University was gleaned from a variety of resources including a search of University Archives, University Housing documents, and various University publications provided the data for inclusion in this article. Below are specific resources or documents used:
- McCall, Rachael ( March 17, 2011) Historically Stated: Trailwood http://news.lib.ncsu.edu/serc/2011/03/ [8/24/2012 4:08:07 PM]
- http://historicalstate.lib.ncsu.edu/student-leaders/daniel-murray-paul [10/26/2012 12:55:02 PM]
- Reagan, Alice Elizabeth, 1987; North Carolina State University: A Narrative History, printed in the United States of American by Edwards brothers, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Schumann, Marguerite, Strolling at State: A Walking Guide to North Carolina State University, Published by North Carolina State University Alumni Association, Inc. AND North Carolina State University Foundation, Inc.
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