Friday, October 31, 2014

Ghosts of UNCG: A Special, Spooky Spartan Story!

To celebrate Halloween, we repeat this blog post, originally posted in October 2012 by Hermann Trojanowski, who retired from Special Collections and University Archives in 2013. We hope you enjoy this extra spooky Spartan Story.

Spencer Residence Hall
Tales have long circulated about the ghosts that allegedly haunt the campus.  In the late 1960s, the Spencer Residence Hall ghost was known simply as “The Blue Ghost” or “The Woman in Blue.”  In the early 1980s, students gave her the name “Annabelle,” possibly alluding to the subject of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem “Annabel Lee.” 

Legend has it that Annabelle is the spirit of a student who hanged herself many years ago in one of the building’s bell towers; however, no such suicide has ever been documented.  A member of the residence hall staff reported that Annabelle had “appeared as a blue shadow on two occasions in the Spencer’s main parlor and when the building was closed for the Summer in 1976, the same staff member heard the ghost “dragging something on the floor out in the lobby.”There have been other reports of a blue haze passing by a second-floor laundry room and of objects being flung across rooms.

In South Spencer in the early 1980s, an apparition reportedly awakened two different staff member on two separate occasions by walking into their rooms. The building had been closed for vacations both times. It is not known whether this was Annabelle or another ghost or ghosts.

Mary Foust Residence Hall
Build in 1928, Mary Foust Residence Hall was named for Mary Foust Armstrong, daughter of the college’s second president, Julius Isaac Foust.  Mary was a member of the class of 1920 – she died in childbirth in 1925. Some believe that her ghost took up residence in the dormitory that bears her name, because rumors have floated around for years about random “unexpected crying” and “funny noises” on the hall’s second floor.  Mary Foust’s portrait, which had hung above the fireplace, disappeared some time back without a trace.  Another rumor about Mary Foust Hall was that in the 1950s, three nursing students hanged themselves from the rafters in the attic.  Investigations have shown that the structure of the beams would make hanging very difficult but still the rumors persist.

The campus’ most well documented ghost reportedly inhabits Aycock Auditorium, which opened in 1927.  An interview with Raymond Taylor who taught drama and play presentation and was the director of dramatic activities on campus from 1921 until his retirement in 1960, reveals that Taylor not only believed in the ghost of Aycock Auditorium, but recounts his personal experiences with the ghost. 

Raymond Taylor
According to Taylor, “at one time a sort of colonial mansion stood on the corner where Aycock is.  There dwelt in this mansion an old lady all-alone.  After a while she became extremely unhappy about her lonely state and went up in the attic and suspended herself from a rope on the rafters.  Having committed suicide there, she determined to stay on as a ghost.  When they tore down the building, she haunted the area for a long time until Aycock was finally built, and then she adopted that for her home.  She seemed, when I knew her to delight in the upper reaches of Aycock foyer where she assumed the guise of lights that flitted from ceiling place to ceiling place and dragging chains and clanking objects over the floor down in the lobby up to my office door.” 

Taylor goes on to tell the story of an incident that occurred one afternoon when he and the Aycock janitor were working on the set for a play.  The whole building was locked up, and since it had been an extremely hot afternoon, he and the janitor undressed down to their briefs to work.  Taylor had left his clothes neatly in a pile.  During the afternoon, a storm came up that raged and roared for quite a while and after the storm was over, Taylor went upstairs to dress and found that his clothes had been disarranged.  He had been wearing a vest with a watch chain across it, and his watch chain had been arranged on the table in the form of a cross.  His other clothes were “helter skelter all over the place.” Taylor just knew this was the work of the ghost of Aycock Auditorium.
Aycock Auditorium

Many nights, while working in the auditorium, Taylor would hear all sorts of strange noises.  He tried to explain some of them by saying that they were the echoes of passing cars or the reverberations of the passing trains shaking the building, but one night he and a colleague, Jimmy Hogue, were sitting in his officer around midnight talking.  Hogue was sitting with his back to the door.  All of a sudden the door opened, and a cold air came in, and they heard the receding clank of chains.  They got up and turned on the lights in the hallway and looked all over, but could never find an explanation for that occurrence.

Jane Aycock
Students have given the Aycock spirit a name, Jane Aycock, and say that she is the daughter of the man for whom the auditorium was named; but Governor Charles Brantley Aycock, whose two wives bore him nine children, had no daughter by that name.  Supposedly she killed herself in the auditorium, a noose around her neck, her body dangling from the fly-loft over the Aycock stage. But the only deaths the auditorium has witnessed have been those acted out on stage, not over it.

According to an article in the Winston-Salem Journal in 1977, written when Aycock Auditorium was 50 years old and was getting ready to reopen after renovations, the drama majors were so attached to the specter that it became something of a tradition to introduce her to new students. “An unsuspecting freshman would be handed a lighted candle and shown the stairway leading to the attic, reportedly the ghost’s favorite turf.  Then the drama majors… would solemnly watch as the flickering flame floated away into the gloom.  They knew there was a certain spot in the attic where a draft always blew out the candle.  It would take a few minutes for the novice spook chaser’s eyes to adjust to the darkness.  Then, the victim would see a shape – a human shape – shimmering in the inky blackness.  The drama majors always got a kick out of hearing the screams that usually followed.  It’s surprising what a coat of luminescent paint can do for a manikin borrowed from the theater’s prop shop.”

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Beginning of Physical Education on Campus: 1892 – 1917

Dr. Miriam Bitting, first campus physician, ca. 1892
When the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG) first opened its doors in the fall of 1892, the Department of Physiology and Physical Culture was in place. Its purpose was to educate the students in the care and training of their bodies and to encourage health and wellness. The program included gymnastics and calisthenics to promote strength and improve the posture of the students. Exercise classes were held in the school’s first gymnasium, located in the northeast section of the Main Building (now the Foust Building), which was equipped with weights, bars, and exercise machines. Training included increasingly difficult exercises meant to develop the body and create strong, graceful, and dignified young women. Miss Maude Broadaway was the director of the gymnasium and led the exercises that were designed to be easily translated into the classroom, as many of the State Normal students were studying to become teachers.

Miriam Bitting was both the resident college physician and the head of the department. She taught a class on physiology and made morning and evening rounds of her students, offering suggestions regarding room ventilation, hygiene, and clothing. Dr. Bitting was very progressive in thought and encouraged the girls to reject their corsets for better movement and general health - giving the State Normal girls the reputation for a good postures and large waists.

Maude Broadway wearing a traditional gym suit, ca. 1893
Dr. Anna Gove, second campus physician, ca. 1894

When Dr. Bitting left the following year to get married, she was replaced by Dr. Anna Gove. Dr. Gove was a graduate of the Woman’s Medial College of New York Infirmary and had also studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It was Dr. Gove who began the “walking period” or “exercise period” that required each girl to spend at least an hour per day participating in outdoor activities, which could include walking or games.  In 1900, the gymnasium in the Main Building was converted to a library and this daily exercise period would become even more important. The campus Athletic Association was founded the same year.

First athletic field, across from Spencer Dormitory
During the 1907/1908 academic year, the Department of Physiology and Physical Culture changed its name to the Department of Physical Training, remaining within the Hygiene Department and retaining Dr. Gove at its head. Miss Ruena West, specially trained in physical education, was also hired to serve as physical director. The program concentrated on exercise regimens tailored to the needs of the individual, and also included sports such as basketball and tennis. An exercise room was incorporated into Spencer Dormitory, which could be used throughout the seasons. Field Hockey was added a few years later and a large area was designated across from Spencer Dormitory for an athletic field. Popular courses such as folk dancing and rhythmic dancing were added in the 1911/1912 academic year, but the program also continued to focus on physical evaluation, drills, and indoor and outdoor games. In 1917, the department officially became the Department of Physical Education.                                                                                                                                           

Monday, October 20, 2014

Basketball before Co-Education

October is North Carolina Archives Month, an annual observance of the agencies and people responsible for maintaining and making available the archival and historical records of our nation, state, communities and people. The 2014 NC Archives Month theme is "North Carolina at Play: Health and Leisure in Our State.” All of our Spartan Stories in October will focus on this theme.
From its founding in 1891, the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG) emphasized physical activity and personal health. Curriculum in the first year of the school’s existence (1892-1893) included the Department of Physiology and Heath, which had two objectives: instruction in hygiene and an individualized program of exercise. A course in Physical Culture was actually required of all students. The work included gymnastics, calisthenics, and other exercises that were meant to promote the student’s general health and strength.

1909 State Normal senior class basketball team
Around the same time, basketball for women was beginning to gain popularity across the nation. Basketball rules for women were first introduced in 1892 at Smith College. These rules were modified specifically for the women’s game, as it was feared that the women could not physically or mentally handle the strain of the men’s rules. The court was divided into three areas with three players from each time in each area (nine total players per team). The ball moved from section to section by passing or dribbling. Players were limited to three dribbles and could hold the ball for three seconds. No snatching or batting the ball away from a player was allowed.

Students at State Normal gravitated towards the game and actively sought opportunities for athletic competition. In 1900, the campus Athletic Association was formally established (15 years before the student government was founded). In a space that is now the site of the Petty Science Building, the women of the Athletic Association cleared and prepared playing grounds, marked the fields, and installed nets on four tennis courts and basketball goals. A primary goal of the Athletic Association was to support competitions between the classes (freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors). They held their first basketball tournament in 1900, and in 1902, they adopted their official motto: “Athletics and active college work go hand in hand.”

Intramural basketball game in Rosenthal Gym, 1942
Competition continued to be solely among State Normal students until 1928, when the school (at the time, known as the North Carolina College for Women) hosted the first annual intercollegiate Play Day in North Carolina. Students from seven schools from around the state came to play a variety of sports (including basketball), but they were not competing for their particular schools. Instead, teams mixed students from the different institutions in order to discourage over-competitiveness.

Permanent facilities were also constructed to allow space for basketball and other competitions. In 1922, a 50 x 90 foot outdoor gymnasium was constructed, and it hosted many of the Athletic Association competitions. The structure consisted of little more than a floor and a roof supported by posts. Rosenthal Gymnasium was completed in 1925. Boasting a swimming pool, basketball court, and other amenities, it was praised as one of the best facilities of its kind in the country. In spite of the upgrade to the facilities, the competitions continued to be intramural only.

Intercollegiate basketball competition, 1963
In the 1940s, Woman’s College began experimenting with a few low-key intercollegiate matches at Play Day. In March 1944, the Carolinian student newspaper was happy to report victories by the WC basketball teams over Guilford and Greensboro Colleges at the recent Winter Sports Play Day in Rosenthal Gym. This experiment, however, only lasted a few years. Intercollegiate competition didn’t resume with any frequency until 1963.

In 1963, the final year before WC became UNCG and admitted male students, the school began its first full schedule of intercollegiate women’s basketball competition. The 1963 team was coached by Ellen Griffin, a 1940 graduate of Woman’s College, an instructor in the physical education department, and a nationally renowned golfer. The team won three of its four games against nearby colleges and paved the way for the current Spartans women's basketball team.

Monday, October 13, 2014

"A Tricky Little Course:" A History of the Campus Golf Course

October is North Carolina Archives Month, an annual observance of the agencies and people responsible for maintaining and making available the archival and historical records of our nation, state, communities and people. The 2014 NC Archives Month theme is "North Carolina at Play: Health and Leisure in Our State.” All of our Spartan Stories in October will focus on this theme.

Mary Channing Coleman, director of the physical education department at Woman's College from 1920 to 1947, was a strong force for the development of athletic resources on the WC campus. In addition to advocating for the construction of the first building used solely as a gymnasium, Coleman oversaw the development of tennis courts and other facilities for WC students to use in both academic and recreational pursuits. In the fall of 1929, a single golf hole was constructed on the west side of Rosenthal Gymnasium, and plans called for extension to a nine-hole course.

WC students on the campus golf course, 1940
In Fall 1933, President Julius Foust announced the approval of a number of Civil Works Administration (CWA) projects at WC, including the much-anticipated golf course construction. In a March 9, 1935, memorandum, Dean of Administration (and future college president) Walter Clinton Jackson announced that "the little golf course which was constructed here last year as a CWA project is now ready for use." The 1935-1936 College Bulletin lists a nine-hole golf course among its description of athletic facilities, noting that "lessons in golf will be available as part of the work in Physical Education."

At its initial opening, the course faced challenges due to low use. A Woman's College Golf Club was founded to maintain the course, with low-cost memberships offered to students, faculty, alumnae, and guests of members. In a 1937 memo, however, Jackson noted that "for two years and more, the whole matter [of the golf course] was a source of unending difficulties, annoyance and trouble. Neither the faculty nor the students would support the club." In 1940, the course was reduced to three holes due to poor patronage and high costs of upkeep. During World War II, the remaining three holes were left unmaintained.

Golf exhibition at the WC course, 1959
It would be the Fall of 1954 before plans for a new campus golf course took form. While this course would occupy the same physical space as the previous course, it would not follow the design of its predecessor. Instead, this new course would be developed with leadership from WC alumnae and faculty member Ellen Griffin, an innovator in golf instruction and one of the three original organizers of the Women's Professional Golf Association (now the Ladies Professional Golf Association, or LPGA).

The grand opening of the new course took place in October 1957. The Physical Education Department's Christmas bulletin reported that "we had all of the finest local pros play the course the opening day. It was exciting with radio and television coverage and lots of pictures ... It's a tricky little course and being used a great deal by all of the college community." The nine holes measured only 1,120 yards, about a third the length of nine holes and a regular golf course, and had a par of 31.

Indeed, the course saw extensive use for class instruction, clinics, and exhibitions. WC hosted the National Women's Collegiate Golf Tournament in 1953. Griffin directed the LPGA National Golf School on the course from 1961 to 1963, and a number of LPGA touring professionals used the course to teach lessons or play exhibitions. In Spring 1962, eight sections of Beginning Golf were offered through the Physical Education Department.

A view from the 9th hole tee, 1968
At the same time, however, campus administrators were beginning to question the course, both in terms of costs of maintenance and use of land. Chancellor Otis Singletary wrote in 1966 that "the University has been questioned frequently over the past few years, both officially and unofficially, concerning the future of the golf course. This usually arises in connection with the University's need for land for additional building. Our standard has been that land is too valuable for us to keep this entire area as a golf course. We hope we might keep one or two fairways for instructional purposes in golf, but that much of this land would be needed for other outdoor physical education facilities." Although no immediate action was taken, two years later, Griffin left UNCG to open her own golf teaching facility.

In the ensuing years, construction of the new campus recreation center, other outdoor recreation facilities, and additional campus parking eliminated most of the course's nine holes. Maintenance was spotty, with many fairways becoming overgrown and drainage problems plaguing others. Finally, in 1998, campus administrators broke ground on a 150-yard practice fairway with two greens and a bunker on the West Market Street side of campus. The fairway and greens occupy what was the sixth hole of the nine-hole course.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Piney Lake: "The Country Club of W.C."

October is North Carolina Archives Month, an annual observance of the agencies and people responsible for maintaining and making available the archival and historical records of our nation, state, communities and people. The 2014 NC Archives Month theme is "North Carolina at Play: Health and Leisure in Our State.” All of our Spartan Stories in October will focus on this theme.

"Tired of studying? Tired of going to classes, of going to the dining hall, of going to Aycock? Tired of your roommate? Your counselor? Yourself? ... Pack up a pair of blue jeans and an old shirt, throw in a beat-up pair of sneakers, and take off to the Country Club of W.C., Piney Lake." This begins an October 1, 1956 Carolinian article announcing the purchase and opening of the Piney Lake property to the Woman's College students.

Piney Lake was purchased by WC on August 7, 1956 from Abe Blumenthal, a Greensboro business man who had used the property as a country estate for a number of years. For a purchase price of approximately $65,000, the college purchased the 40+ acre property situated six miles south of Greensboro. Acting Chancellor W. W. Pierson noted, "since WC trains scores of recreation directors and camp counselors, Piney Lake will be an ideal place for the more effective training of girls entering these fields of work."

WC students at Piney Lake, 1956
With its opening to WC students in Fall 1956, Piney Lake became the primary center for recreation activities. Students were able to make use of the four-acre lake, which featured a concrete pier, aluminum boats, and a concrete float with regulation fixtures. The grounds also featured a number of buildings and other structures for students to use, including a large residence, a caretaker's home, a barn, a garage, a recreation pavilion, tennis courts, and dressing rooms. The Carolinian article even notes that the main residence housed a baby grand piano, "a feature which will appeal to tired music majors who desire to take a businessman's holiday."

Marjorie Leonard, a professor in the Department of Physical Education, and her "cocker spaniel and watchdog" Liz were the first permanent residents at Piney Lake, living in the caretaker's house.She took on the role of "area supervisor." While carrying a full teaching load, Leonard organized use of the Piney Lake facilities, cared for the grounds, and managed supplies and other needed items.

Map of Piney Lake, from the Junior PE Majors Camp scrapbook, 1960
In addition to serving as a recreation center for student activities, Piney Lake was an instructional hub for a number of disciplines. Junior Physical Education majors spent weeks at Piney Lake at "Major Camp," training in recreation management and education. In the summer of 1957, 13 WC students and 18 members of fifth and sixth grade classes at the Curry School participated in a week-long camp at the site. This experimental "enrichment class" consisted of courses in soil conservation, water biology, forestry, wildlife, nature study, boating, swimming, and crafts. Most of the classes were taught by the WC students or faculty members. Day camps continued for many years, opening to children of summer school students, faculty, Curry students, and the community at large.

Piney Lake was managed by the Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) from its opening until 1976. After nearly twenty years of management by part-time staff, in Spring 1975, the decision was made by head of HPER to hire a full-time director for Piney Lake at the salary of approximately $10,000 per year. Soon thereafter, management responsibilities transferred to the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism in 1976, but programming and use of the facilities remained the same. In fact, in 1979, Piney Lake was one of only six sites in the nation to be designated a National Environmental Study Area (NESA) by the U.S. Park Service. This designation recognized UNCG's use of Piney Lake to provide "exemplary programs in environmental education."

Students canoeing at Piney Lake, 1995
Questions over the use and funding of the Piney Lake facilities came to light in the 1990s, however. In September 1995, a consultant's report on student activity fee issues concluded that Piney Lake should be state or self-supported, not supported by student activities fees as it had been since its inception. Dean Robert Christina of the School of Health and Human Performance responded in November, declaring that "Piney Lake is a recreation center that has no academic program." In June 1996, the Chancellor officially responded to the report, indicating that Piney Lake should become self-supported by user fees over a five-year period. This transition, however, was not smooth. In January 2001, Piney Lake closed for all but Team Quest use. No summer camps were held for the first time since Piney Lake came into university hands

On July 1, 2001, administration of the facility was transferred to Campus Recreation, and three years later, "informal recreation" was re-established at Piney Lake. Today, Piney Lake remains under the administration of Campus Recreation, and  student organizations, departments, and other groups are able to reserve the facilities for their use.