Cullowhee Moves Into the Future…Western Carolina 1955 to Present
Most of what is the current Western Carolina University campus was
built between 1955 and the present. Buildings from every category, academic,
administrative, recreational and social were constructed as the campus
center moved. Over thirty buildings were constructed after 1955
and all are still in operation.
Academic buildings were a necessity as the campus grew not only in
size but reputation. In 1967, the same year that Western became
a university, Killian Education and Psychology was built. A year
later, in 1968, Killian Annex was completed to accommodate the need
for administrative space. At the same time plans for a business
building began and in 1970 Forsyth Business Building was erected.
That year work on the Belk Arts Building was nearing completion and
was finished in early 1971. The Natural Sciences Building was
completed in 1977 after Whitmire Stadium was completed in 1974.
One of the last academic buildings built on campus was the Coulter English
and Music Building which was completed in 1978.
While academic buildings were popping up all over campus to accommodate
new students, residence halls were also being constructed to house those
students. In 1959 Buchanan was completed right below Reynolds
Hall, one of the original buildings on campus. In 1962 Albright-Benton
Hall was completed; it was and still is an all male building.
In 1960’s the need for residence halls in the center of campus became
an issue. In response Helder Hall and Leatherwood Hall were built
in 1966. The two identical, but separate buildings filled a need
for a male and female only building. The largest building on campus,
Scott Hall was completed in 1969 and would allow another 800 students
to live on campus. Two more halls were built, Harrill Hall, which
at the time was all male, was finished in 1971. Walker Hall, identical
but built on the opposite side of campus, was completed in 1972.
Administrative buildings were also being constructed during this time,
the first administrative building, Bird Building, was completed in 1960.
In 1979 the second administrative building was completed, the HF Robinson
Building named in honor of a former chancellor.
Some of the recreational facilities on campus are much older than students
think. Ask most students when the Hinds University Center was completed
and they’ll probably tell you “the 1980’s” when actually the building
was completed in 1968 and renovated several times. Reid Health,
which is an academic and recreational building, was completed in 1956.
Brown Cafeteria was finished in 1960 to feed all of the hungry students
when Madison cafeteria grew too small. Dodson cafeteria was built
on the lower end of campus in 1966, the same time that Leatherwood and
Helder Halls were finishing completion. Hunter Library went through
an extensive renovation in 1983, but the fire that burned much of the
library’s special collection caused another renovation in 1989.
During the library’s closure many students complained because most professors
refused to drop their research paper requirements. In 1983 the
campus bookstore opened providing students with a place to purchase
supplies, books and other necessities that they needed that weren’t
available in Sylva. Finally the Alumni Tower, which has become
the icon of the Western campus, was completed during WCU’s centennial
The current boom in construction, thanks to the North Carolina General
Educational Bond, has allowed for the construction of many new buildings.
With the general enrollment, thought to reach 10,000 by 2010, WCU wants
to be ready. Currently there are six major projects on campus.
These include: the new performing arts center, a new residence hall,
the UC addition, the renovation of McKee, the renovation of Bird and
a Job Center. Reid Gym is the next in line and plans for its renovation
have already been proposed to the general population. In the next
five years, Western plans to renovate other buildings to meet today’s
standards, build more residence halls, and construct new academic buildings.
This amount of change is unprecedented at WCU, what a great time to
be a student.
Information for this article was gathered from The Illustrated History
of Western Carolina University by Curtis W. Wood and H. Tyler