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The campus site was chosen because it was the highest spot between the Catawba and Yadkin Rivers, a setting considered ideal for health reasons. The chapel was located at one end of the quad, and the Elm and Oak Row dormitories were located parallel to each other as sides of the quad, much like the ranges on the lawn at the University of Virginia. The campus architecture is based on the University of Virginia, with its Jeffersonian neoclassical design. The original chapel (now gone), early dorms (Oak and Elm Rows), and two literary society halls (Eumenean and Philanthropic) make up the old quad, a mini-version of the "lawn" at UVA. The main classroom building on campus, circa 1930, is a take-off on Monticello. The library, built in 1974, was designed based on "Bremo," the only flatroofed building Jefferson designed. Jefferson's influence was considerable from the outset and has persisted all over campus.
Four original dormitory buildings contained four rooms, with four men living in each room. When the college began classes on March 12, 1837, this is where students lived. Only two buildings, Elm Row and Oak Row, remain. The design is quite modest but fits the pattern of the "ranges" on the lawn at the University of Virginia.
The building is among Mecklenburg County's surviving architecturally significant antebellum edifices and is designated an historic building by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.