Dedicated in 1912, Caldwell was built to house the UNC School of Medicine. It is named for Joseph Caldwell, the university's first president. Designed as a state-of-the-art medical facility, it included laboratories and classrooms. In the basement it also contained pens for animals, including dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, and mice, that students used for experiments. Known informally as Carolina's Zoo, the animal pens were a source of controversy. Students in nearby dorms complained about the noise, and the facilities hastened the tragic end of the first two Rameses mascots. Rameses I, the first live ram mascot at UNC, was purchased in the fall of 1924. He died in Caldwell Hall the following summer, believed to have been overheated in the closed facilities. In 1926 Rameses II died after medical students drew blood from him.
By the late 1930s the School of Medicine had outgrown the facilities in Caldwell Hall, and the building was converted to be used for classrooms. During World War II it served as the headquarters of the U.S. Navy pre-flight school. Renovated and expanded in the 1970s and 1980s, Caldwell now serves as the home of the Departments of Philosophy and Women's Studies.
Joseph Caldwell (1773—1835) came to UNC in 1796 to teach mathematics. He was a graduate of Princeton, where he also qualified for the ministry. He became UNC's first president in 1804 and served to 1812 but afterward remained on the faculty. The trustees asked him to take on the presidency again in 1817, and he served until his death in 1835. Caldwell not only labored to build academic programs, using his own funds to purchase books and astronomical equipment, but also was tireless in raising money and support for the new university. During his tenures UNC completed South Building, added a floor to Old East, and constructed Old West and Person Hall.
Date Established: 1912
Date Range: 1912 – Present