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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

UNCW plans to tear down oldest dorm on campus

Galloway Hall in the 1970s. (RG 24 Images of UNCW Collection, Center for Southeast North Carolina Archives and History, Randall Library, UNC Wilmington).

WILMINGTON — Galloway Hall, the first dormitory built on UNCW’s campus, is marked for demolition after 50-plus years of use. 

The UNCW board of trustees updated the campus community on the project at its quarterly meeting on Thursday. The UNC System board of governors approved its removal Jan. 19; now, the university is halfway through the approval process.

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“Generations of UNCW alumni have special memories of Galloway Hall,” Chancellor Aswani Volety said. “It was the kind of place where friendships were formed for life. While Galloway’s service to the university is coming to an end, its legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of many Seahawks for years to come.”

The board of trustees decided on the move in October. Chair Hank Miller told Port City Daily the building isn’t prime for redevelopment because of the small size of the rooms. 

“It just doesn’t financially make any sense,” Miller said. “Just like anything else, it’s probably cheaper to tear down and start again, right?” 

Now, the institution awaits the green light from the North Carolina Council of State, comprising the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, attorney general, and commissioners of agriculture, labor, and insurance.

According to the trustees’ update, the council is scheduled to discuss UNCW’s request at its February meeting.

UNCW will bid out the design of the demolition to a contractor. The project will cost $2 million.

“While aging infrastructure and changes in building design have forced us to move on from Galloway, we are still sad to see it go,” Director of Housing and Residence Life Kevin Meaney said. “It will always be remembered as the building that launched the residential experience at UNCW.”

Originally dubbed “Dorm 71,” Galloway Hall was the first residence hall built by UNCW, opening to students in 1971. It remains the only six-story building on campus. 

The co-ed dorm was also reported to be the first UNC System dorm to be air-conditioned. Housing 400 students, Galloway was originally designed to be two separate buildings, one for men, one for women. After permission was granted to add air conditioning, there weren’t enough funds for the two buildings, so they were combined to make the $1.475 million building. 

In 1975, the building was named in memory of Edmond Galloway, a UNCW freshman that died from bicycle injuries sustained on campus. Though his head injury was assessed to be minor at first— he was given first aid and released, later in the evening, Galloway was taken to Cape Fear Hospital. He lapsed into a coma and died. 

Galloway Hall is the only campus building named after a modern UNCW student.

In 2018, the building had significant water damage due to Hurricane Florence, which also destroyed student’s belongings. Its neighbor, the University Apartments, didn’t fare well either, though rather than undergoing repairs, all 13 buildings were torn down the following year. UNCW completed four new dorms built in their place in 2021.

Since Galloway opened, it has housed mostly freshmen every year until 2020, when it became the “Covid dorm.” In the throes of the pandemic, students under observation and those who tested positive for the virus were sent to quarantine in Galloway. In total, there were 150 beds reserved, with students under both categories housed in the building but on different floors. 

As the university eased its Covid-19 protocol, Galloway was never reopened for student housing.

UNCW graduate Kaylin Damico, who lived in the dorm in the 2018 and 2019 school year isn’t surprised the building is coming down. 

“I don’t regret living there, I have some great memories and some bad ones, but it’s time to replace it — hopefully with something cleaner,” she said. 

Another UNCW graduate, Lauren Wessell, echoed the sentiment. 

“When I lived there around five years ago, it was grimy and literally falling down,” Wessell said. “The vent in my room fell on my roommate and I in the middle of the night; everyone in the hall was constantly sick, and the smell in the hallways was indescribable.” 

Galloway is one of the last remaining traditional hall-style dorms on campus. The new dorms — Loggerhead, Pelican, Terrapin and Sandpiper — were built in the suite and pod-styles, where the kitchen, bathroom and living areas are shared between smaller groups of people, rather than entire halls. 

Wessell said she doesn’t think the traditional setup will be missed. 

“Sharing a bathroom with that many people was the worst part of my freshman year,” she said. 

The university doesn’t yet have plans for what could replace the building, but Miller told PCD it’s being discussed in UNCW’s strategic plan, to be completed this summer. He  said he doesn’t see another dorm being built in its place, nor a cafeteria due to the recent additions of both those types of facilities. 

“Something more multi-purpose use for students is what I would guess,” he said. 

Another option for the vacant land could be parking, one of the student body’s main complaints about the UNCW campus. Chancellor Aswani Volety told Port City Daily in September the parking issue was part of the master-planning process that is still ongoing. 

At their Thursday meeting, board of trustees members floated the idea of selling the building’s bricks to the community when the structure comes down. A timeline has not been set for the demolition.

Reach journalist Brenna Flanagan at

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