In 1885 students were eager to have a new ballroom to host dances. When the university was unable to provide one, a group of students formed a private association and had one built on campus on the current site of Phillips Hall. When it wasn't used for dances, the building was leased to the university for use as a gymnasium. In 1898, following the opening of Bynum Gymnasium, the building was converted into a dining hall. It served as the main dining facility for students until Swain Hall opened in 1914, often offering cheaper meals than other boarding houses located off campus. However, the fare was not always popular with the students. A 1911 Tar Heel article described a student deciding to become a vegetarian after attempting to eat a Commons Hall steak. In 1915 the building was given to the university. During World War I students used the facility for military training. It was later demolished.