Housing History: 1945-1967

Housing History

In the last issue of the Wolf’s Den, we reflected on the years 1917-1945. In this issue, we’ll look at how World War II impacted on-campus housing and the changes that took place through the 50’s and 60’s.

World War II dramatically affected student enrollment at State College since many chose to join the war effort. Male enrollment declined while female student enrollment increased to a total of 58 coeds. These women took advantage of special scholarships providing engineering training, which enabled them to work in the industry during the war even though there was no on-campus housing for women. 

Once the war ended, soldiers began returning to their homes and taking advantage of the GI Bill to attend college. Many returning veterans were married and often had small children. To accommodate this new student population, the college built small villages consisting of trailers and prefabricated houses. State College secured 350 World War II emergency housing units from the Federal Government to provide housing for married veterans enrolling in the college.  The villages for married students eventually became the family housing areas on campus known as Vetville and Trailwood.

Vetville, located at the present day locations of Lee, Sullivan and Bragaw residence halls, hosted married veterans and their families from 1946 to the late 1950s. Trailwood, located southeast of Nelson Hall, had 52 trailer homes with the capacity for 115 homes.  Only married veteran students and their families were allowed to live in Trailwood, according to a State College News article from August 1946.

Students enjoyed the atmosphere of Trailwood and took pride in their temporary homes. They planted grass, constructed cement walkways, andbuilt and painted picket fences around their homes. Both Vetville and Trailwood also elected their own mayors, ran their own grocery stores, and held their own religious services for students. In 1949, Trailwood included more than 75 trailers and was relocated for the construction of Williams Hall. In the late 1950s, both villages were razed in preparation for Bragaw Hall construction. 

In 1947, two new residence halls became available: Owen and Tucker halls. These two new buildings allowed the Student Housing administration to assign a lesser number of men to each room.  As the new buildings were completed, administration wanted to maintain room capacity at two individuals per room, but the demand for more on-campus housing continued to increase. Students who paid their rent at the two-man rate would continue to live with one roommate. Those that had not completed their payment could expect additional roommates. In Owen Hall, nearly 191 students lived in 3-man rooms.

With the growth of the institution, enrollment, and on-campus housing, the administration continued to focus on character development of those living on campus. In 1950, Dormitory Assistants, or peer assistants, became available to residents.  Peer assistants used a report of each of their residents to help determine the individual’s progress throughout the year.  The report separated students by classification as a Freshman/Sophomore or Junior/Senior and consisted of ten items, including educational background; speech and manners; dress; care of room; study habits; attitude; character; interest in college course; influence on other students; general improvement; and free time. Building on peer assistance, college administrators determined residents’ need for adult guidance and developed a new experiment allowing faculty couples to live in the buildings.

The Host & Hostess Experiment --Tucker Faculty Experience

In 1954, a letter was sent to Jimmy B. Edwards from N. B. Watts, Director of Student Housing, asking him and his wife to occupy a newly created apartment and work with dormitory officers. The expectation was that this couple would live in the Tucker apartment and assist in the operation of the dormitory. Edwards accepted.

The idea of developing the apartment and employing a host and hostess was initiated by the Tucker Dormitory officers, with the assistance of Student Housing administration. The project became an experiment in student housing and an expansion of student services. College officials said, “If it works, the idea will be expanded and put into effect in the institution’s other student housing centers.”

The apartment occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Edwards included a lobby with a telephone to receive incoming calls for students, and a spacious lounge for students to meet their parents, girlfriends, or gather with their friends.  Both students and Mr. & Mrs. Edwards reported that student behavior improved and that Tucker students were more likely to be appropriately attired and well mannered. In 1959, the Host and Hostess program was expanded to include Bagwell, Becton, Alexander, Owen, Bragaw South, Bragaw North and Syme residence halls.

In 1954, male students had the choice of living in one of 12 dormitories. There were still no dormitories for female students.  All male freshmen were required to live on-campus, but were not permitted to live in fraternity houses. Each residence hall room was furnished with beds, mattresses, chairs, study tables, dressers and clothes closets.  Each student had to provide his own table lamp, bed linens, blankets, pillows and towels.  Janitorial service was supplied by the college. The cost for rooms ranged from $52.50 to $72 per student per semester.

Staff members of the residence halls in 1954 consisted of elected officers in each dormitory and a group of paid student assistants functioning as building managers, floor managers, social and athletic directors.  Staff members included upperclassmen appointed to serve as Dormitory Managers and Floor Managers. These select students also helped new students become oriented to college life. 

Each dormitory elected a President, Vice-President and a Secretary annually. The Presidents and Vice Presidents of all the dormitories comprised the Inter-Dormitory Council, which planned and directed the athletic, social, and recreational activities for all dormitory residents.  The Inter-Dormitory Council also appointed Social and Athletic Directors in each dormitory. Directors were supervised by both the Inter-Dormitory Council Social Chairman and Athletic Director. 

Dormitory Social Directors helped plan many activities and social events throughout the year, including the Inter-Dormitory Council Ball, a dance, picnics, parties and other social gatherings for members of the individual dormitories.  The Inter-Dormitory Council also worked closely with Student Government and other organizations to enrich the lives of students and make their college experience more enjoyable.

In 1956, Alexander, Bagwell, Becton, Berry, Fourth, Gold, Owen, Stadium, Syme, Tucker, Watauga, Welch and Turlington became increasingly overcrowded. Approximately 2,950 students were living on campus in 675 rooms with more than two students per room.  To help ease the overcrowding of student housing, James J. Stewart, Jr., the Dean of Student Affairs, announced the approval of a two new areas for married student housing and fraternity housing.

 In 1957, parents or guardians of female students admitted to State College received an invitation for a limited number of women to live on campus. Only 22 women were allowed to live in the Alumni Association building (present day Winslow Hall). The second floor of the building became the first on-campus housing for women at State College. Priority was given to first-year female students and accommodation rates ranged from $135 - $180 per semester per person. Accommodation rates included a fee for an employed house mother for the floor.

In 1960, Bragaw Hall was considered the most modern residence hall. With 408 available rooms, the hall increased the available occupancy from 1,138 to 1,546 rooms. Students now had the option to live in Bagwell, Fourth, Gold, Owen, Stadium, Syme, Tucker, Watauga, Welch, Alexander, Becton, Berry, Turlington or Bragaw if they wanted to live on campus.

In 1964, Watauga Hall was designated as the first all-women’s building and accommodated nearly 90 students. Then in 1965, Director of Student Housing N. B. Watts asked members of the Women’s Club, faculty and staff members, and enrolled women students living off-campus if they had any available rooms in their homes to house the increasing number of female students. More than 40 additional paid reservations were made to Student Housing and the university predicted that even more women would make a reservation to live on campus.

Sullivan Residence Hall was built in 1966 for an estimated $2.3 million. This new nine-story high-rise building accommodated more than 800 students. The building was named in honor of William H. Sullivan, who graduated with the class of 1913. Sullivan was president of the general Alumni Association, trustee of UNC, a member of the Coliseum Commission, and a recipient of an honorary degree from State. 

In 1967, State College administrators developed another cutting-edge student housing experiment. Living/Learning communities were formed to invite students to participate in a Live and Learn program in Berry Hall. Incoming freshmen were chosen at random from the Schools of Engineering and Liberal Arts. James B. Walker of Engineering and A. Sidney Knowles of the English Department advised the experiment.


The information of the history of on-campus housing at NC State University was gleaned from a variety of resources including a search of University Archives, University Housing documents, and various University publications provided the data for inclusion in this article.  Below are specific resources or documents used:

McCall, Rachael ( March 17, 2011) Historically Stated: Trailwood http://news.lib.ncsu.edu/serc/2011/03//[8/24/2012 4:08:07 PM]

http://historicalstate.lib.ncsu.edu/student-leaders/daniel-murray-paul[1... 12:55:02 PM]

Reagan, Alice Elizabeth, 1987; North Carolina State University: A Narrative History, printed in the United States of American by Edwards brothers, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan

Schumann, Marguerite, Strolling at State:  A Walking Guide to North Carolina State University, Published by North Carolina State University Alumni Association, Inc. AND North Carolina State University Foundation, (Raleigh, NC).