Monday, May 27, 2019

Piney Lake: The Country Club of W.C.

"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 that department, now known as the UNCG Department of Recreation and Wellness. Student organizations, departments, and other groups are able to reserve the facilities for their use.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Road that Divided the Campus - Walker Avenue and its closing

From the earliest days of the school, Walker Avenue had bisected campus, forcing students to cross the busy street (often multiple times daily) to access buildings on both sides. The dining halls, science building, home economics building, gymnasium, and many residence halls were all located north of Walker, while the library, Curry, McIver Memorial, student’s building, auditorium, and the administration building were all located south of Walker.
1943 Map of Woman's Collage campus showing buildings bisected by Walker Avenue
The only safe crossing of the busy avenue was at College Avenue.  Over the years, students would cross Walker Ave. via a succession of bridges built to enable foot traffic on College Ave. (running north and south). The bridges were constructed of wood, then iron, and finally concrete in 1928.

1920 aerial view of College Avenue with bridge over Walker Avenue
Walker Ave. became an increasing busy thoroughfare for autos during the 1940s, a situation that only got worse with the post-war boom. Indeed, Walker Ave. was one of the best east west corridors for residents on the western side of Greensboro seeking to drive to the city center.

So, the stage was set for an impasse when Woman’s College building plans included closing the part of Walker Ave. that bisected the heart of its campus, while the city’s residents wanted to maintain Walker Ave. as way to get to downtown from west Greensboro. In 1945, The Board of Trustees approved a plan of building expansion (more than $3,000,000 to be set aside for buildings) for the school that required Walker Ave. be closed, but they did not have the authority to do so.1 Indeed, the plan sited two new buildings, the library (now Walter Clinton Jackson Library) and an expansion to the home economics building (now Stone Building) directly astride the existing Walker Ave. The Greensboro City Council initially denied the request to close Walker Ave. in August of 1945. Next followed suggestions from closure opponents that the school expand westward or even that a 1,350 foot tunnel should be built from Tate St. to a point between Kenilworth and Stirling Streets.2 Westward expansion would not solve the problem of students needing to cross busy Walker Ave. (nor would it allow for the planned library and home economics building expansion) and it was not expected that the state would furnish another $1,000,000 (the estimated cost of the tunnel) to the millions already proposed to the school for expansion. Thus, the tunnel proposal died.

Image used by Dr. W.C. Jackson to promote WC campus after Walker Ave. closure

Still, proponents of the closure of Walker Ave. including Dr. Frank Porter Graham (president of the Consolidated University of North Carolina) W.D. Carmichael, Jr. (comptroller of the University of North Carolina) and Walter Clinton Jackson (chancellor of Woman’s College) among others, worked hard to convince Greensboro and the council to reconsider the closure of Walker Ave. Most arguments were centered around Woman’s College role in the Consolidated University of North Carolina (with Chapel Hill and NC State) and its role as a preeminent school for the education of women. Dr. Graham called Woman’s College the “greatest asset in the building of a greater Greensboro,” and cited closure of Walker Ave. as the “keystone in the college’s great plan for the future.” Carmichael warned that keeping Walker Ave. would block Woman’s College expansion plans and the institution would have no chance to remain competitive with other women’s colleges for growth.3 In a publication to the Greensboro City Council, Dr. Jackson said, “The authorities of the College have made plans for going forward in making this the great institution that it and Greensboro and the State deserve. They are planning great things. They are looking far ahead. They are thinking of the College as it shall be 25 and 50 years from now….It is of the highest importance that the campus we are planning should be a complete unit. The indispensable and fundamental change necessary in carrying out these plans is the closing of Walker Avenue from McIver Street to Forest Avenue.4
Bulldozer breaking up Walker Ave. near the College Ave. bridge
Eventually, the proponents for Walker Ave. closing won out. On June 7th, 1947, the City Council adopted a resolution setting the closing of Walker Ave. through Woman’s College on the date that the space was needed for actual construction of a building bridging the avenue. At 1pm on September 24, 1948, barricades were placed on Walker Ave. and work started a few days later on the Library which sits on the former site of Walker Ave.5

**Look for a future post showcasing views of the College Avenue bridge used to cross Walker Avenue!**

1- W.C. Jackson to City Council of Greensboro, March 5, 1946
2-"City Authorities Offer Avenue Tunnel Project" Greensboro Daily News, February 26, 1946
3-"College Request for Closing Street Taken under Advisement by Council" Greensboro Daily News, March 6, 1946 **Special thanks to Mark Schumacher for help in tracking down the date of this article!**
4-W.C. Jackson to City Council of Greensboro, March 5, 1946
5-"Walker Avenue Closed Today" Greensboro Daily News, September 24, 1948

Monday, May 13, 2019

1934 Illustrated Map Gives Hints into Student Life

*This blog's author, Sarah Maske, is a senior at UNC Greensboro, with a double major in history and archaeology. She is interning in the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collection and University Archives for the spring 2019 semester.

“Dear Alma Mater, strong and great we never shall forget the gratitude we owe to you a never-ending debt; an honor to your name we give and love we pledge a new unfailing loyalty we bring o college dear, to you.”- Home Economics Map, 1934


Woman's College Campus Map, 1934
Among the unique items in the University Archives artifact collection is a 1934 hand drawn campus map created by Woman’s College (now UNC Greensboro) student Emma Lee Aderholdt and her “assistants.” The map of the Woman's College was sponsored by the Home Economics Club and represents campus buildings, providing insights into student life through comments and stick people illustrations.

The map includes buildings and events long forgotten, such as the Old Athletic grounds (now the location of the Petty Building), the Lantern Festival that took place in Peabody Park, and the May Day Festival held in Foust Park. Each building has associated comments by the students including; “Thar’s where my money goes,” “Trees and Squirrels,” and “What’s your I.Q?” The stick figures, which are placed throughout the map, not only show the events that took place at Woman’s College, but also humor, including a poor “Freshie” stick figure forced to clean the McIver Statue. The map also has a detailed border that is a timeline of types of transportation used by the students to travel to the college.

The 1934 map of Woman’s College campus reflects a different campus than we know today. There have been numerous modifications and expansions made to campus since the late 1930s, and this map includes including buildings and views that have long been forgotten.

Oriana McArthur (Class 1950) and Chancellor  Jackson on the Walker Avenue Bridge
Walker Avenue Divided Campus
Today, Walker Avenue is divided into two sections: the campus entrance at Tate Street which dead ends in the Stone Building and the campus entrance from Josephine Boyd Street (formerly South Aycock). But in 1934, Walker Avenue cut through campus as a major road carrying business to Tate Street. One side of Walker Avenue included Spring Garden Street, which held the first campus library (Forney Building), the Auditorium, the Administration (Foust) Building, and all academic buildings except the Home Economics Building. The other side of campus was all residential dorms, recreational facilities, and the Dining Hall. A pedestrian bridge crossed Walker Avenue at College Avenue for the students’ safety. In 1948, the city of Greensboro officially closed the campus section of Walker Ave and the pedestrian bridge was demolished in 1950 to make room for the new Library and Student Union. 1

Kirkland and Woman's Dormitories
Kirkland and Woman’s Dormitories
Located across from the Spencer Dormitory Dining Hall (now Fountain View Dining Hall), the Woman’s Dormitory opened in 1912.2 The building was named to honor the “Noble Women of the Confederacy,” but was more commonly known as “Senior Hall.” Kirkland Dormitory was built in 1914 and was named in honor of Lady Principal Sue May Kirkland who passed away unexpectedly that year. Both dormitories were built in the Craftsman Style and were demolished in 1964. Today, Fountain Plaza is located where the dormitories once stood, and the area has become a popular campus hangout.

The Y Hut
The Y.W.C.A. Hut
The Young Women's Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.) Hut was built in August of 1918 by a group of upperclassmen, “The Carpenterettes,” and three male workmen.3 The Y Hut was located on the edge of Peabody Park, adjacent to Guilford Residence Hall, and became the central hub for student life. The Y Hut was built in the Bungalow Style with board-and-batten siding and four large brick fireplaces.4 The interior was an open, multi-purpose floor plan with exposed rafters, wooden furniture, and a kitchenette. Each fireplace was reserved for one of the four student years (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) and the class colors hung on banners above the mantels. In addition, the Y Hut had modern amenities, including Edison bulb lighting, a gas stove, a refrigerator, and an “Army and Navy” model phonograph donated by Thomas Edison, Inc. The Y Hut was unique as it was the only building on campus to be managed and cared for by students. Some common events that were hosted in the Y Hut included dinners, luncheons, sing-alongs, dances, and “exam teas.” The Y Hut held a special place in the students’ hearts until it was demolished circa 1950.


McIver Memorial Building
The McIver Memorial Building
Built in 1908, The McIver Memorial Building was named in honor of the College’s Founder, Charles Duncan McIver (1860-1906). It was the school’s main academic building and was located in the shadow of the Administration (Foust) Building. As the student population grew, the east and west wings were added in 1920 and 1922. The McIver Memorial Building was demolished in 1960, and replaced by a new McIver Building, which was demolished last year, spring of 2018. The area is now under construction for the new nursing building, which is planned to open in the summer of 2020.

Graduating Students on "The Saddest Day of All"
The campus has changed tremendously in the last 85 years and it continues to grow. The 1934 campus map gives a unique view of campus buildings, views, and traditions long forgotten. While this blog mentions a few noticeable differences to the campus, the map has small details seem to appear every time it is viewed. It is easy for the reader to spend hours staring at the stick figures and their comments.


1.  Allen W. Trelease, Making North Carolina Literate: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, From Normal School to Metropolitan University, (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2004) 150-151.
2.  Building, Grounds, and Views Subject File, Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Greensboro.
3.  “Girl Carpenters Are At Work At Y House: State Normal College Students Undertaking to Clear Ground and Build a House,” Greensboro Daily News, August 30,1918.
4. Class in Community Organization, “The “Hut” Movement in Greensboro: “The Hut” at the North Carolina College for Women, the City Y.W.C.A. Hut and The Hut of the First Presbyterian Church. A Story of How the Huts Have Come to Meet the Real Community,” North Carolina Community Progress, November 5, 1921, vol. 3, no. 3, 1.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Happy birthday, Randall Jarrell!

Portrait of Randall Jarrell taken during his first year at Woman's College, 1947-48.

To honor Randall Jarrell’s 105th birthday, we are highlighting his life and career. One of UNC Greensboro's most famous faculty members, Jarrell was a renowned poet, author, critic, and instructor.

Jarrell was born on May 6, 1914, in Nashville, Tennessee. Jarrell’s parents, Owen and Anna Campbell Jarrell, divorced early in Jarrell’s life. His childhood was split between California and Nashville, Tennessee. Jarrell showed an interest in writing and the arts early in his life – while at Hume-Fogg High School in Nashville, he was active in drama and journalism.

L to R: Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, and
Peter Hillsman Taylor, lifelong friends.
Jarrell enrolled in Vanderbilt University in 1932. Continuing his interest in writing at Vanderbilt, he wrote for and later edited the Vanderbilt Masquerader, a campus humor magazine. Jarrell graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.S. in psychology in 1935 and an M.A. in 1938.

Both his undergraduate and graduate life were punctuated by major American literary figures, specifically poets. While an undergraduate student, Jarrell took courses from John Crowe Ransom and Robert Penn Warren, major American poets. As a graduate student, Jarrell befriended two more future acclaimed authors, Peter Hillsman Taylor and Robert Lowell. Jarrell was also beginning to distinguish himself as an emerging literary figure – in 1936, he received the Southern Review Poetry Prize.
Uniformed Jarrell posing with a cat.

After leaving Vanderbilt, Jarrell served as an English instructor at Kenyon College from 1937-1939. In 1942, Jarrell joined the U.S. Army Air Force. Initially, he served as a flying cadet, but washed out of being a pilot and became a celestial navigation tower operator until his discharge in 1946. Jarrell’s poetry was often influenced by World War II and his experiences in the armed forces.

Two books of Jarrell’s poetry were published during his time in the military. Blood for a Stranger, Jarrell’s first book of poetry was published in 1942. Jarrell’s second book of poetry, Little Friend, Little Friend, was published in 1945. Once discharged from the army in 1946, Jarrell served as the temporary editor of The Nation in New York City, taking over for Margaret Marshall.

After his stint at The Nation concluded, Jarrell moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. Jarrell joined the English faculty of the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro (now UNC Greensboro) in 1947. He remained a permanent member of the Woman’s College faculty until his death in 1965.

Mary and Randall Jarrell dancing, ca. 1960s.
In the early 1950s, Jarrell met and married his second wife, Mary von Schrader. Jarrell took several temporary teaching positions at universities across the country during the 1950s – including Princeton University, Indiana University, and the University of Illinois. Jarrell also served as the poetry consultant for the Library of Congress for two years.

Jarrell returned to Woman’s College and resumed teaching in 1958. In 1960, while teaching at Woman’s College, Jarrell published one of his most famous books of poetry: The Woman at the Washington Zoo. The book received the National Book Award for poetry in 1961 and the University of North Carolina’s Max O. Gardner Award in 1962.

Despite being known for poetry, Jarrell also published a novel and a number of children’s books during the 1950s and 1960s. A lifelong lover of cats, Jarrell dedicated one of his children's books, The Animal Family, to his cat Elfi. Fly by Night, another children’s book, was published posthumously in 1976.

An edited sheet from Jarrell's  poem,
"The End of the Rainbow," from his papers.
The Lost World, Jarrell’s last book of poetry, was published in 1965. At the time, Jarrell was living in Chapel Hill and teaching at UNC-Chapel Hill. While walking along a road in October, Jarrell was struck by a car and killed. Mary Jarrell never remarried after Jarrell’s death and worked tirelessly to preserve both his personal and literary memory. 

Jarrell was instrumental to the history of UNC Greensboro, particularly the creative writing and English programs, and remains a beloved figure on campus. Randall Jarrell’s papers – including manuscripts of his poetry, photographs, translations of plays, and more – are housed at the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives.