On September 18, 1958, the Board of Trustees agreed to purchase land off NC Hwy 132 for Wilmington College's first campus. This campus became the permanent home for the college and eventually the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
The Board of Trustees had previously rejected two possible sites--Hugh MacRae Park and the municipal golf course--due to public controversy.
In 1958 Wilmington College was located in the Isaac Bear Building on Market Street. The Board of Trustees knew the college had outgrown this space and needed another location, but the board did not merely plan for immediate growth. Instead, the members chose a property that would fulfill future needs of expansion. The new property consisted of over 600 acres.
The ability of Wilmington College to purchase the land stemmed from the passage of the North Carolina House Bill 761, An Act to Provide a Plan of Organization and Operation for Community Colleges (1957). It was the first Community College Act in North Carolina. Both Wilmington College and Williston College--a unit of Wilmington College for African American students--were included by name in this act, as they were two-year schools at the time. The act gave the trustees the authority to purchase land deemed “necessary for the proper operation of the college.” It also allowed for the trustees to present the need for a tax levy to the County Commissioners, who would approve a public bond vote. The state would match funds raised by the college up to $600,000 as long as the request was made before June 30, 1958.
Following these guidelines, the Wilmington College Board of Trustees agreed in April 1958 to bring a resolution before the New Hanover County Commissioners. The County Commissioners approved the resolution unanimously and set the bond vote for May 30, 1958. The citizens of New Hanover County voted to support Wilmington College and the bond passed.
Board of Trustees Minutes--April 1, 1958, approved resolution to go before the County Commissioners
New Hanover County Commissioners Minutes--April 14, 1958, approval for the bond vote
Board of Trustees Minutes--September 9, 1958, approved the use of funds to buy land for expansion
Board of Trustees Minutes--September 18, 1958, selected the land on NC Hwy 132 for expansion site
Board of Trustees Minutes--September 22, 1958, approved architect and planned for future growth
Board of Trustees Minutes--December 8, 1958, final approval for the purchase of the land off NC Hwy 132
Unidentified College Trustee, Trustee L. Bradford Tillery, William M. Randall, and John T. Hoggard examine plans for new College property. (Photo courtesy of Tyrone Rowell)