After moving from the original dormitory location of Oak and Elm Rows, and as living in Old Chambers began to cease, dorm life began to be on Dorm Row. The construction of these traditional dorms took place in the early 20th century, in three major developmental phases, countered by a touch of demolition in between. The first phase that took place was in the 1900’s. In ten years, three dorms were constructed, Rumple (1903), Watts (1906), and Georgia (1909). The three buildings stood next to each other creating “Dorm Row.”
These buildings were located in front of the present Belk Dormitory and situated on the western part of campus near Chambers. Phase two took place in the 1920’s. The twin dorms, West (1921) and East (1921), were built. Only for a short period of time did Dorm Row stand five deep, though, because in late 1923 Watts burned down and had to be rebuilt.
The final phase of construction on dorm row took place in the 1950’s. West and East were remodeled and named Cannon and Sentelle, respectively. In this time, Rumple and Georgia were demolished. Georgia stood on what is now the front lawn of Belk Hall, and Little was built to replace Rumple.
Dr. John R. Cunningham, the president of Davidson College in the 1950’s, was not happy with the state of the dorms, calling Rumple “in no sense a credit to Davidson College” (Beaty 351). Mrs. Little, supervisor of dorms at the time, said “to drive another nail in it would be dangerous” (Beaty 351). With their influence Dorm Row went under a final renovation. Rumor says, that Rumple was not actually torn down, but instead that the ivy was pulled away from it one day, causing it to collapse (Beaty 351). How Dorm Row stood in the 1950’s is the same way it stands today; four long, from west to east, Little, Watts, Cannon, and Sentelle.
Dorm Row has carried, and still brandishes the names of important figures in the Davidson community. Rumple, was named for Jethro Rumple, class of 1850, and member of the Board of Trustees from 1859-1906. Watts and Cannon dormitories were named for two other members of the Davidson Board of Trustees, George W. Watts (1894-1921) and J. Archie Cannon (1941-1956).
Georgia, constructed with the money gathered by the Synod of Georgia, got its name from the same source as its funding. Finally, Sentelle got its name from an important member of the Davidson College staff, Mark Edgar Sentelle, class of 1894, a professor of religion, and first dean of students at Davidson College. Dorm
names embody a large aspect of Davidson history, serving as markers for affluent people in the community. Dorm Row represents a place where these people are
honored and their names will always be remembered.
Dorm Row has been a place for development at Davidson College over the century of its existence. In 1972, the first women’s dorm was in Little, although at that time, “a buffer zone [was] needed,” (Unknown Davidsonian) between men and women. Some women housed in Little Dormitory as well as off-campus in Grey House on Main Street. Since then, Dorm Row has become a place, where the only division between male and female students, is a flight of stairs. Each year, the floor that men live on, and the floor women live on actually rotates. Apparently, rumor states the reasoning for this is that the odor produced by men in a year needs to be countered by the cleanliness of ladies the following year.
Today each dorm on Dorm Row consists of four floors and a basement. The only noticeable outside difference between Cannon, Sentelle, Little, and Watts is that Cannon’s and Sentelle’s design include pillars on their front entrance, striking a resemblance to New Chambers.
Dorm Row has also been a place for technological advancements, and luxurious living, at Davidson College. Currently the dorms boast having high-speed Internet connections in each room, along with phone lines for every student. This claim has changed over the years – originally, when Georgia was constructed, the school boasted that running water flowed in every room. In the 1920s, Cannon and Sentelle welcomed additions of amply closet space and lavatories on every floor.
Dorm Row continues to be refurbished and updated constantly, with the latest advancements in living being added every few years. To keep up with the demands of students, Watts and Little are now substance free housing. Substance free dorms provide students a place to live free of alcohol and cigarette smoke. While many students do not take this option, the number of students who do grows every year.
Dorm Row continues to house many Davidson students, and as time progresses perhaps Dorm Row will house the first coed bathrooms or rooms at Davidson. Whatever happens next is a mystery though, and one can only speculate. The only really sure thing is that as time progresses so will life on Dorm Row. As the wants of the students change, Dorm Row, always evolving, will change to accommodate and fit their needs.