Black Mountain and Asheville
Blue Ridge Campus
Lake Eden Campus
Guide to the Campuses
Architecture related publications
FEDERAL HOUSING AUTHORITY
(19) DEEP SOUTH
(25) THE EYE or THE I
(26) THE STABLES
(33) LAST CHANCE
Chance. Photograph courtesy Mim Sihvonen.
Right: The I (or The Eye). Photographer: Felix Krowinski.
© Black Mountain
Community House (previous library) on ridge and
Studies Building to
the right. Photographer: Paul Leser.
FHA Buildings Today
The arrival of GIs beginning in the fall of
1945 presented a housing crisis for the college. Not only had the student body grown to
between 80 and 100 students, but for the first time in the college’s
history there were a number of married students for whom the lodges did
not provide adequate accommodations.
Theodore Rondthaler, a native Carolinian who taught history, turned to the
“alphabetical agencies” — the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and the
Public Works Agency — for help. In the post war years, the military was
deconstructing barracks on military bases and making them available to
institutions such as colleges and universities.
The first four FHA buildings were from the army air base at Maxton, North
Carolina. They were approved in the spring of 1946 and were supposed to be
ready for occupancy by September 1. When they did not arrive for the fall
semester, the ninety students had to squeeze into space for seventy. Rooms
were rented from a neighbor, Mrs. Arthur Patton, for housing, and some
students shared studies.
Materials began arriving in October, and the buildings, constructed by
Robert Holden, a
local contractor, and by students, were ready by the end of 1946.
seemingly simple solution was not without problems, as noted by Holden. The college had to provide excavation,
foundation work, sewage, water and electricity. Apparently ,t also had to
provide roofing, and materials were in short supply in the postwar period.
The only brick available was “imitation brick” — unattractive and not in
keeping with the college architecture —, and there was difficulty in
obtaining skilled labor (the college had an endless supply of eager and
willing unskilled workers).
Of the first four buildings, two – Last Chance and Next-to-the-Last Chance
– provided three apartments each with a
living room, a bedroom, a kitchenette and a bath for married students and
They were located on the hill above New Cottage (also referred to as the
Mac Wood Cottage). Among those to live in Last Chance were Tasker and
Lorna Blaine Howard, Rags and Peggy Tolk Watkins, and Francis and Ann Dunn
Foster. Oli and Joan Couch Sihvonen and their daughter Kimrey lived in
Next-to-the-Last Chance. The other two buildings provided classrooms and
student studies. The Eye (also referred to as The “I”) was located at
the bottom of the slope just north of the Studies Building and was used
for art classes, student studies, and storage. Deep South was located just south of South Lodge
and was used as a men's dorm.
In the spring of 1947 the Public Works Agency provided three additional
buildings. The Stable located north of The Eye, was used for studies. The library building was placed along the
lake, south of the Studies Building. The third was placed in in the pine
grove south of South Lodge and was used for storage. The contractor for
the second group was Mr. Claery of J.A. Jones Company of Charlotte.
The college considered the buildings to be a temporary solution to the
immediate housing shortage. Concurrent with the erection of the FHA
buildings, fundraising was underway for a girl’s dormitory designed by the
By law, the 20 by 100 foot buildings had to be deconstructed and
“reduce[d] to nothing larger than ‘flat panels’” in two years. This, in
fact, was never done at Black Mountain, and the buildings were used by the
college until it closed and later by Camp Rockmont.
2007: Last Chance, Next to the Last Chance, The Stables, The Eye, and the
library have been demolished. Deep South and the storage facility have
been divided into three separate buildings and are still in use by Camp
Left: Constructing The Eye.
Photograph courtesy Black Mountain
College Project. Gift of Lorna Blaine Halper.
Lower left: Jerry Levi's Study. North Carolina State Archives, Black
Mountain College Research Project Papers. Photographer:
Lower right: Felix Krowinski's Study, © Black Mountain College Project.
Gift of Felix Krowinski.