Old East
Old East is a dormitory building located at the north part of campus in University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States...

. When it was built in 1793, it became the first state university building in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The Wren Building
Wren Building
The Wren Building is the signature building of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. Along with the Brafferton and President's House, these buildings form the College's Historic Campus....

 at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia was built in 1695, but William and Mary did not become a public university until 1906.


The cornerstone of Old East was laid ceremoniously on October 12, 1793 by William Richardson Davie
William Richardson Davie
William Richardson Davie was a military officer and the tenth Governor of North Carolina from 1798 to 1799, as well as one of the most important men involved in the founding of the University of North Carolina...

, who served as the governor of North Carolina
Governor of North Carolina
The Governor of North Carolina is the chief executive of the State of North Carolina, one of the U.S. states. The current governor is Bev Perdue, North Carolina's first female governor.-Powers:...

 from 1798 to 1799. The building was originally two stories tall and contained sixteen rooms. The design reflects the University trustees' vision of a quadrangle that ran north toward the town of Chapel Hill. Although the cost of construction is unknown, there are records from 1799 indicating that the University spent a total of $12,180 for work on Steward's Hall, Old East, Person Hall, and the President's House. After its construction, Old East functioned as both a classroom building and a dormitory; today it is exclusively a dormitory.

The contractor in charge of the construction of Old East was James Patterson of Chatham County
Chatham County, North Carolina
Chatham County is a county located in the Piedmont area of the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2000, the population was 49,329. Its county seat is Pittsboro.-History:...

. By 1804, the building needed significant repairs and was renovated with new doors, window sashes, ladders, and the roof was repainted. The third story was added to the building in 1823. Alexander Jackson Davis
Alexander Jackson Davis
Alexander Jackson Davis, or A. J. Davis , was one of the most successful and influential American architects of his generation, in particular his association with the Gothic Revival style....

 was hired by the University in 1844 to lengthen the building by a third and to create a new north entrance. The new rooms were used by the Philanthropic Society and also served as a library. Davis
Alexander Jackson Davis
Alexander Jackson Davis, or A. J. Davis , was one of the most successful and influential American architects of his generation, in particular his association with the Gothic Revival style....

' other additions included large north-facing windows encased by brick panels and two brick porches on the east side of the building. Thomas Day
Thomas Day (North Carolina)
Thomas Day was a free black American furniture designer and cabinetmaker in Caswell County, North Carolina. Day's furniture-making business became one of the largest of its kind in North Carolina, employing at one point up to twelve workers, and distributing furniture to wealthier customers...

, a skilled and respected African-American cabinetmaker, designed and built the interior woodwork in the society rooms. Old East remained the home of the Philanthropic Society until New East was completed in 1860.


In 1877, Zebulon Baird Vance
Zebulon Baird Vance
Zebulon Baird Vance was a Confederate military officer in the American Civil War, the 37th and 43rd Governor of North Carolina, and U.S. Senator...

, the Governor of North Carolina and chair of the Board of Trustees, declared the anniversary of Old East's construction, October 12, was University Day and should "be observed with appropriate ceremonies under the direction of the faculty." Subsequent celebrations of University Day have included speeches by President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 in 1961 and President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 in 1993. Students are released from classes the morning of University Day and many migrate to the Old East Birthday Bash, which has in the past included things like cake, athletic signings, puppies, appearances by the chancellor, dance routines, and A'cappella performances. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 by the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 December 21, 1965. The residence hall is staffed with two Residential Advisers who are notorious for wearing striking safety vests during emergency procedures and in order to increase visibility on the hall.

The Old Well
Old Well
The Old Well is a small, neoclassical rotunda located on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus at the southern end of McCorkle Place. The current decorative form of the Old Well was modeled after the Temple of Love in the Gardens of Versailles and was completed in 1897...

and Old East, as the earliest buildings at UNC, have long been the symbols of the university. There are some collections of art about Old East and the Old Well in Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, North Carolina as well as in UNC-Chapel Hill's Wilson Library.

External links

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