DAVIDSON – Davidson College is home to nearly 2,000 students and a countless number of stories.
I had the pleasure of participating in a campus tour with Richard Terry, auxiliary services director, as my guide. Here are some of the nuggets Terry shared with my Leadership Lake Norman class:
1. The 900 Room owes its name to Dewey Decimal System.
No, the Alvarez College Union doesn’t have 900 rooms. The C. Shaw Smith 900 Room pays homage to an older student union that used to be an old library. That union had a pub on the top floor that used to house the 900 section of the Dewey Decimal System.
2. The rock group Police played there before they were famous.
Terry quips that The Police performed at Davidson College a mere five seconds before they became the world’s biggest band. A student at the time, Terry remembers not being impressed by Sting and company’s 1978 hit single “Roxanne” when they played it for 300 people in the college’s 1,100-seat auditorium. The college would play host to other legendary acts, such as John Mayer, Hootie and the Blowfish and The Dave Matthews Band.
3. The Ghost of Old Chambers is more science than paranormal.
Sometimes you can look outside the Chambers Building and see the outline of the original academic building that had burned to the ground in the early 1900s. That’s because the building was built on a limestone foundation, which is still underground. In the summer, the limestone absorbs the heat, radiates it out and kills the grass above it.
4. Pink and blue used to be the school colors.
Can you imagine the Davidson Wildcats striking fear in their football rivals with their pink and navy blue uniforms? Neither could college leaders. The use of pink and blue dates back to the college’s Philanthropic and Eumanean debating societies. Today, junior marshals wear the color at commencement to pay tribute to those days.
5. Students get free laundry service.
Davidson College parents may blame the Lula Bell Houston Laundry for not seeing their children enough on the weekends. The building, named after a laundry employee that had worked there for more than 50 years, is where students can get their clothes cleaned for free. Terry cites old faculty notes mentioning that the college needed to find a way to stop students from smelling so bad.
6. Davidson nearly landed Charlie Scott.
The Davidson Wildcats were an elite basketball program in the 1960s, advancing twice to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. But they could have been better. Coach Lefty Driessell had a letter of intent from Charlie Scott, but he wound up playing at North Carolina. The two teams played in the NCAA in 1969, with Scott hitting a buzzer-beater to advance North Carolina to the Final Four. Another coincidence: Scott appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with Wildcats star Mike Maloy in 1968. They were amost teammates.
7. Larry Brown was hired as a coach.
Larry Brown was hired to succeed Lefty Driesell in 1969 as men’s basketball coach, but the North Carolina alum left the college before his first game. Brown would later coach the ABA’s Carolina Cougars and the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats en route to becoming the winningest coach in NBA history. He also developed a reputation for being a journeyman, never staying with a team for long periods of time.