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Housing History

By: Tyler Pritchard

The University of Tennessee celebrates its 225th birthday this year, and in all of those years there have been an incredible amount of students step on campus, a majority of which lived in a residence hall during their stay. So of course there have been plenty of great residence halls and stories that come with them. In this blog I will share with you some of the stories and facts that I found interesting.

What is more fitting to start with than one of the first places students called home on Rocky Top? If you have ever made it to the hill, you have seen South College next to Ayres. South College was built in 1879, 85 years after the founding of the university. When it was a residence hall, it housed 96 people and also had classrooms in the building.

Later in 1931, Henson Hall opened up. It was one of the first female halls on campus and was named after Martha Henson, who donated $200,000 to the university.

Almost 30 years later, in 1960, a hall named “West Hall Addition” opened. It is now the oldest residence that is still being used for its original purpose. If you don’t recognize it by that name, it is because it was renamed Massey Hall 5 years later in 1965. It was named after the university’s first dean of men, yet it did not house men until fall 2010.

The very next year, in 1961, another residence hall we all know was built under the name “Melrose Addition.” Now known as Hess Hall, it was also renamed in 1965 and was named after James Hess, a long time secretary for the university’s board of trustees.

The next hall opened in 1965 under the name Cumberland Hall and was renamed after former Governor Frank Clement in 1968, becoming the Clement Hall we know today.

In 1966, the Presidential Court Complex opened with Reese Hall, which was all male at the time, and Humes Hall, which was all female at the time. Also, in the Presidential Court Complex, North Carrick and South Carrick opened their doors and were renamed from Shelbourne Dormitory a year later in 1967. Even though Reese Hall opened up at the same time as the rest of the Presidential Court Complex, it did have some interesting features at the time. The first Hall Director, Eugene Scanlan said that it opened before there was glass installed in the lobby, so it was open to all the outdoor elements. Along with that, all students were assigned rooms, as normal, but it was eventually realized that some of the rooms assigned were closets.

The next year, in 1968, the first coed hall opened up as Morrill Hall.  Phil Venditti, who was one of the first Morrill Hall residents remembered two stories very vividly. First he says that the male residents built a cinder block wall in the basement so female residents could not get off the elevators, and also from time to time would be challenged by their next door neighbor at Apartment Residence Hall, which did not open until 1970, to climb the construction crane, while not wearing much clothing.

These are just a few of the stories of all the halls over the years. We are excited to see what stories you all bring this year and in all the years you spend here at your home sweet home within all the halls, new and old.