The allure behind Old East

Why do so many students want to live in the campus’ oldest building?

This sign commemorates the laying of the first brick.

The first brick of Old East was laid on October 12, 1793, and the construction of UNC had officially begun.  To this day, October 12 is still celebrated as University Day.

Centuries later, students still love to live in the historic building, because it is in the middle of everything.  Seeing the Old Well out the window every day also can’t be beat.

Many students will never even see the inside of the building that holds so much mystery and fascination.  Luckily, I have a friend, Ryann, who is fortunate enough to live there, and she gave me the inside scoop one day.

Well
The view of the Well from a second floor bathroom window.

The inside was different than I expected. I thought there would be grand staircases and windows in the halls where you could see the Well. There were a ton of stairwells, however none of them were grand, and in a way reminded me of a maze.

Unfortunately, there were no windows to the Well, although there was a nice view from the second floor bathroom. The doors to the rooms are wooden, as are the floors in the halls. Most of the doors to rooms were closed, but I just enjoyed walking around the historic building. Since it is home to only about 150 students, I never thought I would have the chance to see it.

When Old East was first built, it had only two stories and 16 rooms that each held four students. In 1824, a third floor was added and Old West was also built.  In 1848, both buildings were extended North to include libraries that have since become favorite spots for late-night studying. Today, each floor has three bathrooms, and a kitchen and a lounge on the first floor.

In another renovation in 2009, an elevator and central AC were added.  Students can now open their windows on nice spring days and hear the noises of the busy campus.

Instead of closets, Old East has wardrobes (one per resident). The room pictured is a triple.

Today, about half of the rooms are triples.  My friend, Ryann, was hesitant about a triple at first, but it has been her favorite living experience.  To her, the situation is more like friends hanging out, and if one of them is busy, the other two can still hang out.

“I love being so close to everything,” said Ryann. “There’s also just something special about living in the oldest building. It’s been a Tar Heel tradition since the beginning.”

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Why would you like to live in Old East?

5 thoughts on “The allure behind Old East”

  1. I also went at 5pm on Monday, so I might not have a full view on what typical life is like. Most dorms seem to be emptier around that time.

    Another reason not many people enter is because only about 150 students live there, and they are the only ones who have access into the building.

  2. I would expect most students to be upperclassmen, that was no surprise. But, this blog post makes it seem like it seem like it was a ghost dorm; all the doors were closed, it was super quiet, no one’s ever been inside.. it just seems like there is not much social interaction going on within or outside of the dorm.

  3. Old East was not crammed at all. Even being in a triple, there was plenty of floor space and only one bed was lofted. It is mainly upperclassmen though. What were you expecting the student make-up to be?

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