On the ballot for the general election in 2000, North Carolina added a bill to grant the state university system an astronomical sum of money for technology upgrades and construction. The bill passed and I assume the money went out.
Construction at Western Carolina University didn't begin in force until after I graduated in 2003. The campus today looks nothing like it did in my years there. But with the exponential growth that school has seen since 2003, they need the extra room. In 1999 when I started there were around 6,500 students. This year, including graduate students, the number is over 10,000. Space is at a premium, housing is sorely needed and there has been a parking crisis for as long as I can remember.
In the summer of 2007 they began a major construction program in the center of campus. The ultimate goal is to create a traditional college quad in the area around the student center's bell tower. This meant tearing down two old dorms and a dining hall. Sadly, one of the two old dorms was the one I called home for three years.
They started with Helder Hall, a girls dorm. It was reduced to a pile of rubble within weeks and construction on the new hall begain soon after. Leatherwood Hall, my old home, was supposed to come down soon after, originally in the winter of '07. When it was determined that that wasn't going to happen, they re-opened it to students for the 2008 spring semester. And it's stood empty now since the middle of 2008.
With the two other buildings that will compose half of the new quad nearing completion, time is almost up for Leatherwood. I drove through campus yesterday to find piles of rubble outside the dorm and most of the windows gone from two of the building's wings. I got sad.
This evening, I went out to take some pictures before it's gone.
The first room on the first floor on the left side of the picture, partially obstructed by another wing of the building and an covered entrance, was mine. Number 102. I couldn't get any close than that and still see my room, I'm zoomed in to about 4x from a good 100 feet away.
There's a chain link fence running around the entire center section, I did find a few fairly hidden places that I could get in though. So I'm debating how close I want to come to getting arrested for a few nighttime pictures.
As I said, all the first floor windows on another wing of the building have been taken out, and I'm pretty sure I could slip in un-noticed, but I just can't talk myself into sneaking in. I do plan on going back another day to try and get closer.
The back wings, looking up. It looks like a prison and was built like a bunker, but it was home.
When they get around to tearing down the slum I lived in my freshman year, I won't care too much and I'll go cheer as it implodes.
EDIT TO ADD SOME BASEBALL CONTENT
According to Baseball Reference, six Major Leaguers attended WCU: Jared Burton, Paul Menhart, Dave Pember, Jerry Reed, Charles Thomas and Wayne Tolleson. The baseball program isn't the best in the NCAA's Division I (and neither is the basketball program, or football, but the girls rugby team won the national championship some years back).