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Devin Gorsen

Initial Development of Lake Campus

Davidsonian, 1963

Photo from The Davidsonian. April 19, 1963 issue, p. 4.

Construction of Lake Campus began as early as September of 1962, long before the deed had been transferred to the College. Duke Power generously initiated the development process by offering to grade the new roads, clear out the area surrounding the marina, dig out the swimming area, and build the swimming causeway. All of this construction was to be completed before the lake was even filled. By March 1, 1963, phase one of the development of Lake Campus had slowly begun. The roadwork and parking areas had been completed; and the boat launching ramp, boat pier, and swimming area were all underway. Davidson had also been working on an agreement with neighboring landowners, the Mott Family, to purchase their concrete block house and tobacco barn in order to house its future Lake Campus caretakers. The Mott Family also owned the large house next to the Lake Campus property. Davidson purchased the house and the barn in December of 1962 for $1,500, despite the fact that the Motts had a tenant already living there.

Next on the list of priorities were the construction of a bathhouse and a well, followed by a plan to build a clubhouse. The College wanted to add other amenities to the property, such as a telephone and running water in the caretaker’s house, before officially opening itBy November of 1962, Davidson’s cost estimate for the entire Lake Campus project was $209,400. Although Charles A. Dana donated $200,000 to the Lake Campus project, the College’s actual expenditures on the Lake Campus only totaled to about $42,000 by the time it opened. It is unclear where the rest of the donated money went, but very few of the remaining original project ideas were completed after 1963. According to former Lake Campus Director, Sterling Martin, the Lake Campus has always been at the bottom of the College’s list of priorities. It was never allotted any real budget, which is why very few of the original plans came to fruition.

 

References

Cost Estimate. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1958-1962. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. Memorandum to Dr. Grier Martin. 6 September 1962. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1958-1962. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Harry Y Mott. 22 December 1962. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1958-1962. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. Expenditures for Lake Campus. 21 May 1963. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1963-1965. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. Memorandum to Dr. Grier Martin. 30 May 1963. RG 2/11.14 .President D. Grier Martin. Lake Campus. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Davidsoniana file: RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1963-1965. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Martin, Grier. Letter to Bill McGuire. 25 January 1963. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1963-1965. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Meetze, G. C. Suggested Design for a Bath House at Lake Norman. 3 March 1963. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1963-1965. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Meetze, G. C. Suggested Design for a Club House & Other BLDS on Lake Norman. 14 March 1963. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1963-1965. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Photograph of Sea Wall and Rocks. The Davidsonian, 22 March 1963, p. 1. Davidson Archives, Davidson, NC.

 

Initial Planning of Lake Campus

http://davidsonarchivesandspecialcollections.org/archives/community/under-lkn/davidson-lake-campus

Lake Campus shoreline before the lake was constructed, Davidson Archives Photograph Collection.

Upon learning of Duke Power’s initial development plans for Lake Norman in 1958, Davidson College President, Dr. Grier Martin, wrote a letter to Duke Power with ideas for how Davidson College could benefit from the building of the lake. President Martin saw Lake Norman as an opportunity to expand the College’s athletic, academic, and recreational programs. While Duke Power did not formally agree to the donation until 1962, President Martin and Business Manager Robert A. Currie had started planning for the development of Davidson’s new Lake Campus as early as November of 1959. At that time, Davidson College envisioned a Lake Campus that would be located on a point and that would have some sort of restaurant or club house facilities, as well as areas for docking and renting boats, swimming, camping, and athletics.

President Martin’s request for a portion of Lake Norman’s shoreline property was well received by Duke Power, which tentatively reserved an area on the lake, five miles away from the main campus. In December of 1962, Duke Power formally agreed to donate 109.6 acres of that land to Davidson College with the understanding that the land would only be used for recreational purposes. President Martin and Currie worked closely with landscape architect, Charles Gillette, to come up with a more cohesive, two-phase plan for the College’s Lake Campus. The first phase of this plan consisted of purchasing the concrete block house and tobacco barn that were located adjacent to the college’s property. These facilities were intended to serve as living quarters for whomever would oversee the Lake Campus property. The first phase also incorporated the construction of roads and parking lots, a bath house, a swimming area, a boat launching area, as well as necessary wells and septic tanks.

The second phase of the plan would take place after the first phase was completed. In December of 1962, Currie wrote a letter to Charles Gillette, detailing a list of future items which they would like to include in the plan. This list consisted of:

  1. Club houses
  2. Shelters which could also be used as shuffleboard courts
  3. Picnic areas
  4. Trails
  5. An open play area with equipment for children
  6. Softball fields
  7. An outdoor basketball court
  8. Space for archery, badminton, etc.
  9. A dry land boat storage facility for small boats
  10. Quarters for the host and hostess
  11. Amphitheater with ticket office, dressing rooms, etc.
  12. Arboretum
  13. Camping sites
  14. Tennis courts
  15. Fishing areas

Of all of the items mentioned above, the only ones that ever came to fruition were picnic areas, trails, and a dry land boat storage facility. According to Davidson’s former Head of Grounds, Irvin Brawley, there used to be campsites with fire pits located near the current picnic area. They were primarily used by local boy scout units. The fire pits have since been replaced with grills. The only other item that was ever strongly considered again was the prospect of a club house. Learn more about the club house in Initial Development of Lake Campus.

 

References

Brawley, Irvin. Personal interview by Scott Sellers, Devin Gorsen, and Christopher Ragsdale. 24 March 2014.

Currie, Robert A. Letter to Charles Gillette. December 1962. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1958-1962. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Martin, Grier. Memorandum to Members of the Faculty and Staff. 20 October 1959. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1958-1962. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Photograph of Land, now under Lake Norman, near the future shoreline of the Lake Campus. Photograph Collection, Davidson College Archives. Davidsoniana file: “Lake Campus (Lake Norman).

Lake Campus Timeline

Our project addresses the history of Davidson College’s Lake Campus – its acquisition, initial renovations, and the changes in its use over time. Please click through the timeline below and follow the links to external pages to explore the development of this important element of College life. For additional information on the history of Lake Campus, see the Davidson College Archives’ page on Lake Campus & Lake Wiley.

 

References

Atkins, J. M. Exterior of Myers Park Presbyterian Church. 1948. J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, Charlotte, N.C. Flickr. Web. 3 Apr. 2014.

Bailey, John. Lake Site Frolics in Fresh Delight. The Davidsonian. 24 April 1964.

Boraks, David. “Learn about the History of Sports at Davidson College.”DavidsonNews.net. N.p., 31 Dec. 2008. Web.

Boraks, David. PEOPLE: Martin retires, Marshburn exhibits, young authors honored. 19 January 2007. DavidsonNews.net.

Brawley, Irvin. Personal interview by Scott Sellers, Devin Gorsen, and Christopher Ragsdale. 24 March 2014.

Cartmill, Thomas A. Memorandum to Robert Currie. 16 March 1979. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1973-1977. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Christenbury, Thomas L. Letter to Mr. Rex. C. Welton. 17 December 1987. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1980-1991. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. “Lake Campus Operations.” Davidsonian. May 1963.

Currie, Robert A. Letter to Dr. Cartmill. 8 November 1979. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1973-1977. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. Letter to S. J. Stillwell. 8 April 1963. RG 2/11.14. President D. Grier Martin. Lake Campus. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. Memorandum to President Martin. 21 March 1963. RG 2/11.14. President D. Grier Martin. Lake Campus. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. Memorandum to President Martin. 1 July 1964. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1963-1965. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. Letter to President Spencer. 19 January 1977. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1973-1977. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. Letter to President Spencer. 31 March 1978. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1973-1977. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. Memorandum to Mr. Cornell. 7 February 1973. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1973-1977. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. Memorandum to M. Jim Perry. 1 June 1984. President Kuykendall. RG 2/1.16. Athletics-Lake Campus, 1973-1987. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Currie, Robert A. Letter to Larry J. Dagenhart. 31 June 1985. President Kuykendall. RG 2/1.16. Athletics-Lake Campus, 1973-1987. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Davidson College Archives. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1958-1962. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Davidson College Archives Photo Collection. http://davidsonarchivesandspecialcollections.org/archives/community/under-lkn/davidson-lake-campus

Davidson College Archives Photograph Collection. http://davidsonarchivesandspecialcollections.org/archives/encyclopedia/lake-campus-lake-wiley-2

Davidson College. Davidson College Bulletin Vol. 62, No. 5 (64). Davidson: Davidson College, 1963.

Davidson College. Quips and Cranks Vol. 70. Davidson: Davidson College, 1965.

Davidson College. Quips and Cranks Vol. 90. Davidson: Davidson College, 1985.

“Davidson’s Lakes.” Around the D. Davidson Archive Photo Collection: http://davidsonarchivesandspecialcollections.org/aroundthed/davidsons-lakes/.

Martin, Sterling. Personal interview by Scott Sellers and Devin Gorsen. 3 March 2014.

Martin, Sterling. New Davidson College Lake Campus Summer Policy. 25 May 1979. RG 2/1.16. Athletics-Lake Campus, 1973-1987. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Optimist Club of Charlotte. Carolina Club Regatta. 30 July 1977. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1973-1977. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Photograph of Fun & Games During Freshmen Orientation. Photograph Collection, number 27-0278. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Photograph of Students at Lake Campus. Davidson College Catalog. 1965. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Postcard. 1968. Davidson College Archives. Davidsoniana file: “Lake Campus (Lake Norman).

Season Guest Card and Regulations 1965-1966. Davidson College Archives. Davidsoniana file: “Lake Campus (Lake Norman).

The Business Office. Notice. 21 June 1978. RG 4/1.1. VP for Business and Finance. Lake Campus Development, 1973-1977. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.