On-campus living is not only about convenience, there’s also a distinct historic aspect for those who live in the University’s oldest building.
Last year marked the 200th anniversary of laying the Cornerstone of what was then called the East Building by Gov. William Davie on Oct. 12, 1793.
Now, Old East residence hall stands as the oldest public university building in the U.S. It housed the University’s first student, Hinton James, when he arrived in 1795.
Most students learn this key piece of history when touring the University, but many don’t know the full history of the building.
Old East was originally a two-story structure containing a hallway and two rooms on both sides. It functioned as both the academic building and the residence where professors and students lived.
“It was literally the entire University, “ said Patrick Horn, Associate Director at the Center for the Study of the American South .
“Kemp Battle’s ‘History of the University of North Carolina’ relates stories about pranks being played on professors in Old East and students using trap doors to pass exam questions to underground ‘researchers,’” he said. “Student writing from the 1840s reveals that Chapel Hill was a pretty lawless place.”
It is this history that attracts students to live there today. Old East currently houses 67 students, and has been co-ed since 2000.
Freshman Zac Locklear lived in Old East during the summer of 2013 while participating in the Summer Bridge program. He said he enjoyed the history of the building.