Senior and Sophomore Apartments
structures serve as a retreat
and refuge, places to gather in goodwill,
havens for study and learning;
sites where friendships may flourish.
-“Litany of Thanksgiving and Dedication” from the Dedication Ceremony September 23, 1994
For most first year students the transition from living at home to living in a dorm is an eye-opening experience. They must learn to share a small space with a stranger and use a communal bathroom. However, people often forget about the transition out of dorm life after four years; what will that be like?
In 1994, Davidson College decided to help seniors make that transition with senior apartments. Construction began in 1988 with the erection of Hart and Jamison Halls, as well as Building B. Ryburn and Flowe were added in 1989 and 1994 marked the completion of a sixth senior apartment building, more commonly known as Building F. Although built in different stages, the six buildings look similar and were all designed by Little & Associates Architects of Charlotte, NC (Dedication Program). The excerpt above is from the dedication ceremony for the senior apartments and conveys the many visions of all that the senior apartments would become.
Senior apartments allow Davidson’s upperclassmen to stray from the dorm life to which they have become accustomed the previous three years. They are provided the opportunity to live in a setting similar to one they may face after graduation. All apartments offer, a small kitchen, common room, a bathroom, a shower, and four bedroom suites, except for F which offers five room suites. All six senior apartment buildings are situated on D. Grier Martin Court, located just beyond Patterson Court. Martin Court provides students with the feeling of being off campus while at the same time locating them a short walk away from the heart of campus. Just as Martin Court is named for a former president of Davidson College, the apartments themselves are each dedicated to generous alums who wished to show their gratitude to their alma mater.
Jamison and Hart were the first apartments constructed. Hart is named for W. Lewis Hart of the class of 1930 and his wife Kalista Hood Hart, the daughter of a Davidson professor. Samuel Sharp Ryburn ’38 wished to give a substantial gift to Davidson following the sale of his business, Engraph, Inc. Flowe is the namesake for a family full of wildcats, including William Winslow “Mr. Billy” Flowe of the class of 1895 and William W. Flowe Jr. ’29 (Dedication Program). Like so many Wildcat alumni, these families wanted to give back to a school that had given them so much.
The construction of Building F resulted from a growing student population and demand for upperclassmen housing. Although close in design to the other apartment buildings, Building F most closely resembles Belk dormitory in shape. There are six apartments per floor as well as meeting rooms for group gatherings. Architects hoped to foster a sense of community through shared balcony spaces (McCrory 1).
Unlike in the construction of the first five apartment buildings, Davidson students participated in decision-making regarding Building F. Students, in conjunction with faculty from the Residence Life Office, formed the Future Student Housing Committee. Four juniors served as ambassadors to the student body and kept them notified about their new residential options (McCrory 1).
Adjacent to Martin Court, across from Patterson Court, lays another cluster of buildings. These buildings are formally known as Knox, Irwin, and Akers, but to the students of Davidson they are more commonly called the “sophomore apartments.” Perhaps they are called this because of their proximity to Martin Court, but in actuality they are more like dorms. Knox and Irwin officially opened their doors to students on September 2, 1981. Knox is dedicated to the memory of Peter Knox class of 1932, while Irwin is named for Mary Irwin Belk, wife of generous alum William Henry Belk.
The two story buildings house 54 students in 27 double rooms each (Mann 1). They were built similar to the other dormitories with long hallways, common lounges, and common bathrooms on each floor. However, upon the opening of these buildings, students voiced a couple complaints. To begin with, the rooms are small and do not have sinks like other dorm rooms (Mann 1). Also, students have about a ten minute walk to Chambers; it is the price they pay for the “off-campus” feeling.
In October of 1984, a third residence hall was opened alongside Knox and Irwin. Akers, named for Dr. John McCorkle Akers was also the first coed dormitory on the Davidson campus. The concept of coed living was rejected several times in the past, but in 1995 dormitories couldn’t keep up with the growing Davidson population. Director of Residence Life at the time Kurt Holmes said, “It was a real easy call for us when the housing numbers got tight for men…” (Saintsing 1). One-half of the floor was sophomore men and the other women, divided by only a door. This decision of coed habitation moved Davidson into another phase of dormitory life; now each floor on Belk is coed as well.
The sophomore and senior apartments are the most recent additions to Davidson residential life, offering students independence through more modern housing options. They illustrate the generosity of alums who appreciate Davidson College in their past and can see the evolving Davidson of the future. The apartments are modern adaptations to a traditional school, representing changing times and an ever growing population.
Beaty, Mary D. A History of Davidson College. Davidson: Briarpatch Press, 1988.
Blodgett, Jan. “Davidson College Campus Buildings” 9 Sept. 2003. 17 Oct. 2003 <https://davidsonarchivesandspecialcollections.org/archives/encyclopedia/historic-buildings/>.
Burney, Cecil Letter, Davidson College. 12 February, 1970. Student Government Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
“Disturbed Elm Row Site Reveals Alcoholic Past.” Newsclipping, c. 1960. Elm Row Davidsoniana File. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Jaenicke, Graham. Photographs of Senior Apartments. 16 October 2003.
Jaenicke, Graham. Photographs of Sophomore Apartments. 16 October 2003.
Lingle, Walter. Memories of Davidson College c. 1947. John Knox Press, Richmond, VA.
Mann, Jeffrey. “Knox and Irwin Dorms Open Doors to 108 Students.” Davidsonian. 15 September 1981.
Martin, D. Grier Flyer, Davidson College. 6 September, 1956. Dormitories Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
McCrory, Mary. “New Building Guarantees Class of 1995 Senior Apartments.” Davidsonian. 11 October 1993:
Nicholls, Scotty. Memoir. Dormitories-Supervisors Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
“Preamble of the Davidson College Code of Responsibility.” 11 October, 1968. Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Photograph of Ms. Moore. Photograph Collection, number 19-0026. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Photograph of Old Elm in 1930. Photograph Collection, number 9-0949a. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Photograph of Old Oak in 1893. Photograph Collection, number 9-0546c. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Photograph of housemothers. Photograph Collection, number 19-10/09. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Photograph of Miss Johnsie. August, 1959. The Epsilonian of Pi Kappa Phi.” Davidson, NC
“Report of the Commission on Coeducation.” May, 1969. Excerpt Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Saintsing, Tim. “Davidson Institutes First Co-Ed Hall.” Davidsonian 5 September 1995:
“The Dedication of Flowe, Hart, and Ryburn Residence Halls.” Dedication Program. September 1994. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Unknown. Flyer, Davidson College. 8 April 1977.Buildings -Dormitories Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Author: Lindsay de Castrique ’07
Date: October 2003
Cite as: de Castrique, Lindsay. “Senior and Sophomore Apartments”
Davidson Encyclopedia October 2003 <https://digitalprojects.davidson.edu/omeka/s/college-archives-davidson-encyclopedia/page/senior-and-sophomore-apartments>