Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Oak Row

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Institution Name: Davidson College
Original/Historic Place Name: Oak Row
Location on Campus: 306 N. Main St.; SW corner of college campus
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1836-1837original construction Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: slate
ca. 1837residence hall (with fraternity meeting hall)
ca. 2004-present (2007)faculty offices

Significance: architecture, education
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

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.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Beaty, Mary D. A History of Davidson College. Davidson, NC: Briarpatch Press, 1988.

Davidson, Chalmers Gaston. The Plantation World Around Davidson. Davidson, NC: Briarpatch Press, 1982.

An Inventory of Older Buildings in Mecklenburg County and Charlotte. Charlotte, NC: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, 1975.

Turner, Paul. "Some Thoughts on Campus Planning." Planning for Higher Education 16, no. 36 (1987-1988): 27-28.

Wells, John B., III. Eumenean Hall, Davidson College. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1972.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections
Other: Records of the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds Office, Charlotte, NC. Records of the Mecklenburg County Tax Office, Charlotte, NC.

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