Monday, May 29, 2017

“A Noble Idea” The History of Peabody Park (Part Two)



Have you ever wondered how UNCG acquired such a beautiful green space on the northern edge of its campus?  Well, the founding and development of Peabody Park is a fascinating story that reflects UNCG’s overall growth as a center of higher learning and a Greensboro neighbor.  Given the complexity of the story, the Park’s history is being told in three Spartan Story installments.  The first installment was told in November 2016, “A Noble Idea:” The History of Peabody Park (Part One), and focused on the Park’s founding through a generous donation of monies.  The second installment, May 2017, will pick up the Park’s story in 1902 and how it evolved from a place of strolling and reflection to one of recreational activities, open-air theatrical performances, and finally, institutional encroachment. 
 
Shortly after the land for Peabody Park was purchased in 1901, landscape designers established a series of walking trails.  Wooden benches were strategically placed along the paths.  Female students used this new green space for their required daily “walking periods.”  President Charles Duncan McIver described the designed space as an education park where student learning and physical education were brought together in one place.  McIver envisioned that stone markers and plaques would be installed to highlight human advancement and inspire the passing walker. However, plans for the installation of stone educational markers were shelved with McIver’s sudden death in 1906.  Despite his untimely death, the Park was quickly being incorporated into campus life.
 
Peabody Park became a popular venue for school festivals and performances.  Starting in 1904, students staged elaborate May Day Festivals.  Over the years, the festivals became more and more elaborate.  The Festival’s activities included: the crowning of a May Day queen, dramatic performances, parades, and folk dances.   With the American entry into World War One in 1917, the May Day festivals were stopped and did not resume until the 1920s.  Instead, students used Peabody Park to hold patriotic rallies and pageants to boost morale and to encourage the purchase of Liberty Bonds.  With May Day festivals starting up again in the 1920s and continuing into the 1950s, Peabody Park was again being used for student events and performances.  Indeed, there was even the establishment of “Park Night” that honored students who embodied the school’s ideals of scholarship and service. 
 
As enrollment grew in the 1920s, the school was challenged to meet the needs of its growing student population.  Under the leadership of President Foust, the school experienced a building boom and sought to incorporate parts of Peabody Park into its educational programs.  Tennis courts and an archery range were constructed to support physical education classes.  In 1934, during the height of the Depression, the federal government’s Civil Works Administration built a nine-hole golf course in the Park.  With the establishment of a Golf Club, the school administration hoped that faculty and students would be active members and that their membership dues would help support the maintenance of the grounds.  Unfortunately, Club membership remained low and the maintenance of the grounds proved to be costly. 

On the eve of America’s entry into World War Two in 1941, the golf course had fallen into disrepair.  It was decided to transform the space by damming one of the branches of the Buffalo Creek.  The dam helped to form a small lake for boating.  Peabody Park suddenly had a lake!  In addition, an outdoor amphitheater was constructed on the lake’s shore to be used for concerts and pageants.  All traces of the 1934 golf course disappeared.

Interestingly enough, the idea of a school golf course for recreation and learning was resurrected in the postwar period.  In 1954, the lake was drained and the lake bed was leveled.  State funds for a new nine-hole golf course were obtained.  To generate interest for this instructional course, the school held a “gala” in 1957 that featured local golf pros playing the course.  To sustain the project, the course was designed to keep maintenance costs down and to bring golf into the curriculum.  Unlike the fate of the Depression-era course, the 1954 golf course functioned as a nine-hole course until the 1990s.  In 1999, the old golf course was transformed into a short-game practice facility (150 yard fairway, 2 holes and a bunker) to be used by the school’s golf teams as well as for physical education classes.

With the projected growth of the school in the 1960s, there was a strong need to expand residential housing on the campus.  Portions of Peabody Park was identified as a space for development.  Plans were drawn up.  In 1960, the Moore-Strong Residence Hall was built.  In 1963, the Reynolds Residence Hall and the Grogan Residence Hall were opened.  Upon learning of the construction of residences halls in Peabody Park, a number of former students wrote to Chancellor Otis Singletary in 1965 objecting to the University's building plans.  They insisted that this unique green space be preserved.  Despite these written protests, the University moved forward with its building plans and opened both the Cone Residence Hall and the Phillips-Hawkins Residence Hall in 1967.

The third and final installment of the story of Peabody Park will examine how the Park continued to evolve along with the University’s own growth.  The blog post will consider issues such as the 1990s student protests over planned campus expansion as well as the 2016 announcement for the construction of two wetlands sites within Peabody Park.  Stay Tuned! 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Farming and Feeding the Campus

Looking at the current site of the Quad, you might never guess that it was once the home to a campus farm and dairy barn that supplied State Normal (now UNCG) with milk, pork, and produce. But in 1897 Charles Duncan McIver established the first campus farm on a newly-acquired plot of land on the western side of the campus. In addition to providing the school with food products, the farm also served as a teaching laboratory for horticulture classes.
Campus dairy farm (near site of current Aycock Street), 1922

Initially the farm was managed by Thomas L. Brown, an English horticulturalist who was then working at the Biltmore Estate. McIver, however, did not allow the farm to proceed without his direct supervision and impact. In fact, he bought much of the livestock himself. The campus also constructed a substantial dairy barn near the current site of Shaw Dormitory.

It took seven years (as well as Brown’s replacement and a reduction in the livestock herd) for the farm to begin turning a profit for the school. After 1904, however, the farm operations grew substantially. By 1910, the cattle produced more milk than the students could consume, allowing the college to sell and profit from the surplus.

Soon, however, campus expansion (specifically the newly-constructed Woman’s Dormitory) led administrators to search for new sites for the barn. In 1913, the livestock and their barn were moved further west, closer to Dairy Street (now Aycock Street).

Only four years later, however, the campus farm had proven too small for the growing student body, and the land it occupied was needed for other purposes. The Quad was carved out of the farm’s eastern side, and there were plans for a physical education building and golf course to occupy the remaining area. While the college had use of an additional farm southeast of Greensboro, it needed more space to produce more foodstuffs.

So, in 1923, president Foust purchased a 250-acre plot of land in Friendship Township about eight miles west of campus (near the current Piedmont Triad International Airport). Primarily, this site was used as a dairy farm, with Holstein cows providing milk for students and extra milk being sold to local dairies. The old campus barn was demolished, physical education facilities were constructed where the farm stood, and farming operations fully moved away from the immediate campus area.

During World War II, the campus experienced a shortage of workers for the farm. As a result, forty to fifty German prisoners of war were bused in daily from Winston-Salem to provide much-needed labor. Once American soldiers returned from overseas, however, the labor shortage continued. Foust and later president Walter Clinton Jackson were advised – but refused – to sell the farm as it began to lose money. Both cited distrust in the quality and quantity of milk available from local dairies as the primary reason for retaining the farm. But in 1945, ultimately the shortage of labor and high cost of animal feed led the College to sell the farm at auction.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Summer Studies at the Shore

On June 15, 1931, Archie D. Shaftesbury, Associate Professor of Zoology at the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG) wrote Mary Taylor Moor, the school's registrar, regarding a proposal "to conduct a three weeks summer term in zoology at Beaufort during this and succeeding summers." Shaftesbury emphasized that "it is our intention to reserve this work for certain selected students, rather than to open the course to classes of any considerable size." He asked Moore to quickly take the proposal to the "college credit committee" to ensure that students planning to participate that summer would be eligible for course credit.

Dr. Archie Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury's work to bring students to Beaufort for marine zoology study continued to develop, and, in 1934, student members of the school's Zoology Field Club actively joined in by writing their alumni members for support "in the establishment of our marine laboratory on the North Carolina coast." They asked that each former member pledge $10 ($5 in 1935 and $5 in 1936) to support the development of these research facilities. These efforts paid off. In 1935, work began on the construction of the "Carolina Marine Laboratory" in Beaufort. Previously, students had made use of local high school classrooms as well as U.S. Bureau of Fisheries laboratories and boats for their summer studies.

Beaufort continued to grow as a hub of marine research. In addition to the active U.S. Bureau of Fisheries facility and the newly-constructed NCCW laboratory, Duke University established a presence in the town in 1937 with the purchase of 11.5 acres to house a third research facility.

In 1938, the NCCW facility in Beaufort featured a course in Invertebrate Zoology, a class "designed for seriously minded advanced college students, high school teachers, and others who may be interested professionally in biology." An information pamphlet sent to prospective applicants to the course noted that "while the work is not a vacation in the ordinary sense, the experiences offer a pleasant change from the confines of the classroom and laboratory together with an unusual opportunity for observation and study." Classes were held between June 13 and July 9.

Biology students studying  at Beaufort, ca. 1940
That same summer, NCCW's presence in Beaufort expanded beyond marine research as the art department established a 26-day "summer colony" in the town. Gregory D. Ivy, head of the art department and manager of the "colony," proclaimed the project to be an "experiment." The academic work centered around coursework in "advanced landscape painting," which focused on "the theories and methods used by the post-impressionist cubists, and surrealists." It appears that this was indeed a limited experience, as the bulk of the NCCW use of Beaufort focused solely on marine biology. 

The 1961-1962 course bulletin contains the last direct reference to the Invertebrate Zoology course conducted at the Beaufort facility by Shaftesbury (who had become professor emeritus in 1959).

Monday, May 8, 2017

Separating the Sick from the Healthy: Early Campus Infirmaries

Students Suffering from the Mumps in the First Infirmary
In the summer of 1895, just three years after the opening the State Normal and Industrial School, (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro), the first infirmary was built. Previously, sick students had been housed in a single room in Brick Dormitory and cared for by campus physician, Dr. Anna Maria Gove, who made rounds of the dormitories twice daily. In emergencies, students were sent home to convalesce or to other dormitory rooms, but the close quarters made the spread of infectious diseases unavoidable. It became apparent that a free-standing building was required to meet the health needs of the school. Charles Duncan McIver, the school’s president and founder, also saw the wisdom of a separate building to keep the contagious students away from the well ones.

The First Campus Infirmary, Located on College Avenue
Dr. Gove advocated for a modern structure and was disappointed when the Superintendent of Grounds instead decided on a “dwelling house” plan to provide a restful, home-like environment in which the students could recover from sickness. Soon a small brick building was constructed on College Avenue next to Guilford Residence Hall. Sometimes referred to as “Little Guilford,” the building was large enough to house offices for a physician and a nurse, as well as five bedrooms and several baths. If there were epidemics that necessitated a quarantine, the adjacent dormitory was used for additional beds.
 
As the student population grew, plans emerged for a larger campus infirmary. These plans were realized in 1912, with the construction of a new building on Forest Street. Considered modern by 1912 standards, the infirmary’s blueprint included three floors accessed by an elevator. The plan incorporated twenty-nine bedrooms with baths on the first and second floors, as well as exercise rooms, and “sun parlors.” There was also a “quarantine wing” which was separated from the main structure by a latticed porch to allow for cross ventilation. The first floor was large enough for a sitting room, the physician’s office, and “resting rooms” for students who did not live on campus.

A Postcard Showing Gove Infirmary, Located on Forest Street
Additionally, the basement held examination rooms, the incinerator, and the “fumigating room,” where infected clothing was processed. The kitchen was on the third floor, in which food was prepared and sent down to the lower levels by dumbwaiter. Excited by the prospect of a new campus infirmary, students and alumnae held a “linen shower,” to provide new sheets and towels. On May 30, 1936, the infirmary was named in honor of Dr. Gove, who had been the campus physician since 1893. 

Gove Infirmary in the 1950s
By the 1950s, the infirmary building was considered outdated, and it was decided that a larger heath center, with more modern conveniences, was needed. In 1953, a new infirmary, located on Gray Drive, was completed and named the following year for Dr. Gove, who had retired from the college in 1937. After the “Old Infirmary,” ceased to function as the school’s health center, it was mysteriously leased by the federal government for “classified” purposes. Finally, the building was used for graduate student houses and offices until it was razed in 1965.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Frank Porter Graham

Frank Porter Graham was born on October 14, 1886 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 1909, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) with a degree in law and went on to earn his graduate degree in history from Columbia University in 1916. Graham’s teaching career began as a high school English instructor from 1911-1913 at a school in Raleigh, N.C.. After two years of teaching, Graham returned to Chapel Hill to become the secretary of the local YMCA. He was given a position at UNC as an instructor in history in 1914 and later volunteered for the Marine Corps in 1916, going on to serve in World War I.

After returning home from the war in 1919, Graham continued his career at UNC-Chapel Hill as an assistant professor of history, earning the rank of associate professor in 1925, and full professor in 1927. While at UNC, Graham was a member of the President’s Committee on Education and served as the president of the North Carolina Conference of Social Service. He also founded the Citizen’s Library Movement of North Carolina.

In 1930, Graham was named President of the University of North Carolina. Two year later, the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), North Carolina State College, and the Woman’s College (now UNCG) merged to create the University of North Carolina System. Graham was appointed president of this new organization and served in the role from 1932 until 1949. During his tenure, Graham was known for his intensive lobbying for the continued financial support from the government for universities in North Carolina.

However, his term was not without some controversy. A year after his appointment, Graham traveled to Greensboro, N.C. for the first time to meet with the president of the Woman’s College, Dr. Julius Foust. It was documented that the two men did not agree on the future path of the college. Eventually, Graham called for Foust’s retirement due to his own feelings and recommendations from trustees and faculty members.

During World War II, Graham devoted a lot of his time to public service. He was a member of the National Defense Mediation Board (1941-1942), National War Labor Board, and Maritime War Emergency Board (1942-1946). Following the war, he was appointed to the President’s Committee on Civil Rights in 1946 and in 1947, President Truman asked Graham to serve as the U.S. Representative on the United Nations Committee of Good Offices on the Dutch-Indonesian dispute.
On March 6, 1949, North Carolina U.S. Senator J. Melville Broughton died from a massive heart attack. In filling the vacant seat created by his death, North Carolina Governor W. Kerr Scott appointed Graham to the position. His tenure would be short, serving from March 29, 1949 and until November 26, 1950. Graham ran for the senate seat the follow election, but was unsuccessful in his bid. 

In 1951, while serving as defense manpower administrator for the U.S. Department of Labor, Graham was appointed as a United Nations mediator for the dispute between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir boundary. He would devote the remainder of his active political life to the Kashmir dispute before returning to Chapel Hill and retiring in 1967.

Frank Porter Graham died February 16, 1972 in Chapel Hill.