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.
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.