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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

History of North and South Halls

An inside look at two of the oldest buildings on campus

Before UC Davis was the campus we know, it was UC Berkeley’s research farm. UC Berkeley’s University Farm School opened in Davis in 1909, whose first students once the university started accepting students not pursuing degrees in agricultural sciences. Those students found their housing in North Hall and South Hall.

North Hall and South Hall are the second and third oldest buildings on the UC Davis campus to date, respectively. They were originally built as dormitories. North Hall, built in 1908, was the men’s dormitory and South Hall, built in 1912, was the women’s dormitory. South Hall also had three infirmary beds. Architects Harold Louis Cunningham and Matthew V. Politeo designed the two buildings.

In the 1960s, the North and South Hall dormitory buildings were converted to office use. South Hall was first to make that transition in 1961 and North Hall followed suit in 1964. Over the years, they served as office spaces for the Advisory Skills Center, Learning Skills Center, Internship and Career Placement Center, Services for International Students and Scholars, Student Activities, Student Affairs Research and Information and the Student Employment Center.

Today, North Hall is one of the two locations for Student Health and Counseling Services, containing the SHCS Counseling Services and the Mind Spa. It is also where the Women’s Resources and Research Center is. South Hall is now home to Advising Services, the Internship and Career Center, the Unitrans office, Student Recruitment and Retention Center, the Peace Corp office and many other student services.

“I knew that these were dormitories; I didn’t know which gender was assigned to which one,” said Cecily Nelson-Alford, the director of the Women’s Resources and Research Center, referring to the fact that the original men’s dormitory now serves as the Women’s Resources and Research Center.

The halls of the two buildings still resemble the original dormitory architecture. They’re narrow with doors on both sides all the way down the hall. The staircases leading to the upper levels of the buildings are also narrow and resemble older-styled architecture.

“It’s old,” Noelle Tran, a first-year wildlife, fish and conservation biology major, said, describing South Hall. “It’s very gloomy inside. It doesn’t surprise me that it used to be housing because I thought it was on-campus housing the first time I saw it.”

North and South Hall, two of the three historical dorm buildings, still stand today even though they are not used as dorms anymore. The third dorm building, called West Hall, was built in 1914. In 1951, West Hall was demolished, and in its place today stands the Memorial Union.

“Overtime, it’s typical that universities change and needs change, so I’ve been in buildings that used to serve very different purposes,” Nelson-Alford said.

The change in use of the two buildings is not unusual compared to other universities. It is notable, however, that two of the oldest buildings on campus, North and South Hall, still stand today to serve the students.

Written by: Ling Nguyen – features@theaggie.org


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