UNC’s James K. Polk Tower?

“Plans were announced today for a 21-story residence for men students to be constructed on the University campus here.”

“It will be one of the tallest buildings in the state…And probably the tallest college residential structure in the Southeast.”

“Already dubbed ‘The Tower,’ construction on the new 1,000-man unit is expected to begin next March…’The Tower’ will be named for James K. Polk, 11th president of the United States, a native of North Carolina and an alumnus of the university. Polk received the A.B. degree here in 1818, the M.A. in 1822 and the LL.D. in 1845.”

“The new building will house James K. Polk Residence College.”

These are some quotations, all dating from April 1966, from several articles I recently found in our university clippings files. I knew the building had not been built, but I did wonder where they had thought about constructing “The Tower.” Well, according to the articles, the location was near Kenan Stadium, directly across the street from Scott Residence College (Avery, Parker, and Teague dormitories). My map and directional skills point to the current location of the George Watts Hill Alumni Center as the proposed location of this gigantic residence hall.

What happened? Why wasn’t it built? That is an even more interesting story of miscommunication and apparently one department not knowing what the other department was doing, saying, or releasing to the media. Within two weeks of the original story being published in several newspapers, there was another story (Chapel Hill Weekly, 27 April 1966) stating that the university had considered the idea, but that no action on building “The Tower” had ever been approved. The story also mentioned concerns about “stripping the campus bare of trees and wooded areas and destroying all the places of natural beauty.”

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