Thursday, September 24, 2015

The D. Hiden Ramsey Library Turns 50!

On September 27, 1965 Asheville-Biltmore College (the predecessor of UNC Asheville) dedicated the D. Ramsey Library. The library was the first building on the campus to be named, and it honored someone who, as the Asheville Citizen reported, was described by Governor Dan K. Moore as one of the state’s foremost exponents of education. In addition to providing long-time support for Asheville-Biltmore, Ramsey served as the first chairman of the State Board of Education and as chairman of the board of trustees of Western Carolina College.

In rather purple prose, the Citizen described how the “handsome building stands like a space-age Mt. Vernon with tall white pillars and ceiling high windows” and “broad steps lead to striking red doors.”

Construction of the library started in early 1964 and was completed, and the library occupied, in the summer of 1965. The photograph below shows D. Hiden Ramsey at the microphone, watched by Asheville-Biltmore President William Highsmith, and may have been taken at the formal dedication but was more likely was taken at a ribbon cutting for the summer opening.

In 1965, the library was approximately half the size that it is now, but it must have seemed very spacious in comparison to its previous location on the second floor of one wing of the administration building (now Phillips Hall). The inside of the library looked much different back then. The final photo is undated, but dates from around 1965. To provide orientation for those who know Ramsey Library, the photo shows the second (main) floor level, and the stairs are in the same location as they are now. The main entrance is about halfway down the wall on the right.