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How Glen Lennox will honor women trailblazers during its renovations


Travis Arnold, 31, of Louisburg, directs traffic around construction at Glen Lennox Apartment Complex on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. Glen Lennox recently announced they will be naming a building in their expansion after Gwendolyn Harrison, the first black woman to attend UNC. 

As Glen Lennox begins its renovations in the next few weeks, it is looking to recognize strong female historical figures while naming the new buildings.

The renovations include the addition of office spaces and an expansion of the dining and shopping spaces available. For the buildings being added, they unveiled a naming strategy that honors trailblazing women.   

Glen Lennox is managed by Grubb Properties, a multi-generational property management, development and construction company that works in multiple states. 

Emily Ethridge, communications manager at Grubb Properties, said through these renovations, the company’s naming convention looks to honor strong women leaders who made a lasting impact and had a connection to either the 1950s, when Glen Lennox was created, or to Chapel Hill in general. 

“All of the new names throughout the redevelopment will fall under the theme of 'committed to lasting impact,' which is the company’s overall vision for the revitalized Glen Lennox,” Ethridge said in an email.   

In the first phase of redevelopment, Grubb Properties is rolling out two new buildings.

The first is an office building “The Gwendolyn” named after Gwendolyn Harrison, the first Black woman to attend UNC. Grubb Properties intends to include a plaque in the lobby to tell her story and honor her legacy.

Harrison applied to UNC's doctorate program in Spanish after the Board of Trustees announced that Black graduate students could be admitted to the University. She was admitted for the summer of 1951.

After arriving, paying for the key deposit and being assigned a residence hall, she was informed that she would not be allowed to live in the residence hall or register for classes because it had not been known she was a Black woman.

The Joint Committee of Trustees representing UNC told Harrison her admission must be canceled, which prompted her to write a letter to Gov. Bob Scott, also chairperson of the Board of Trustees, requesting her case be reviewed during a scheduled meeting in June. But the board ignored the request and told Harrison the board would look at it again in the future.

She and her attorneys filed a complaint in U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina on July 5, 1951. The case was scheduled for a hearing on July 12, prompting an emergency meeting by the Board of Trustees on July 16. This time, they voted by an overwhelming majority to admit Harrison.  

This is why Grubb Properties is looking to commemorate her.

“Given her accomplishments, it’s entirely appropriate that Gwendolyn’s name will grace the first in a series of structures at Glen Lennox designed to inspire a new generation of trailblazers and change-makers," Glen Lennox said on its renovation website.  

Additionally, a second building, which will be an apartment building, will be named the Link Apartments Linden. 

“The name Linden refers to one of the vibrant designs of pioneering female designer Lucienne Day, whose striking textile patterns became an iconic look of the era and could be found in homes and businesses worldwide,” Ethridge said.

This is the first phase of redevelopment in what Ethridge describes as a multi-year process. Throughout this new development, Grubb Properties hopes to continue naming buildings after significant female leaders.

Parts of the renovation could be completed as soon as fall 2021.

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