Old East

On October 12, 1793, enslaved people began construction on Old East, the first public university building in the United States. Though the building had many purposes throughout the last two centuries, it currently serves as a student dormitory. Women were allowed to live in the building beginning in 2000. The Housekeeper’s Association (HKA) used Old East and Old West as physical examples of the plantation supervisory system that Black low-wage workers still worked under. By using the University’s oldest buildings as symbols of the institutionalized discrimination and racism they faced, the HKA made a case for reparations for the descendants of Chapel Hill’s formerly enslaved citizens.

Old East, in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Image Collection Collection #P0004, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Organization: UNC Housekeepers Association

Space Use: Dormitory and Housing

Spatial Organizing Approach: Reclamation

Date Created: 1795

Campus Space: Cheek-Clark Building

Citation:  Interview with Chris Baumann by Charlotte Fryar, 22 December 2017, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.