Old East

Old East is the first building at the university and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the first building on a public university campus in the United States. The original structure, located just to the east of the Old Well, was designed to be the north wing of a larger building. It was built by James Patterson and remodeled in 1822 by William Nichols, adding a third floor, and in 1848 by Alexander Jackson Davis, all of whom used enslaved laborers. Known as simply as the College, later East, and then Old East as the campus grew, the structure has been in continuous occupation since beginning as a dormitory.

Old East and Old West have undergone multiple repairs and renovations over the years. A major restoration project in the mid-1990s removed virtually all of the interiors and restored the exteriors to resemble their 1848 appearance. This effort included recreating the Philanthropic Society library space on the third floor of Old East.


Date Established: 1795

Date Range: 1795 – Present

This 1797 drawing of Old East by student John Pettigrew is one of the earliest known images of the UNC campus and a rare glimpse of Old East before its third story was added. Pettigrew Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library.