Sesquicentennial Series: Married Students Make UK Home Sweet Home
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 11, 2013) — In celebration of the University of Kentucky's upcoming sesquicentennial in 2015, the 39th of 150 weekly installments remembers the radical decision to offer on-campus housing for married students.
UK became one of the first universities to provide housing for married students during the post-World War II period when war surplus buildings were purchased and erected. Cooperstown and Shawneetown were assembled as quickly as possible to provide around 500 temporary units. Over an eight year period these units afforded housing for more than 3,000 students' families, and during this time 700 children were born there.
Where once stood 51 one-story converted barracks, construction of a new six-building Shawneetown was begun in September of 1956. The housing shortage for married students and faculty at UK was the impetus to build Shawneetown.
Shawneetown contained 84 efficiency apartments, 84 one-bedroom apartments and 18 two-bedroom apartments. The two-bedroom apartments and 42 of the one-bedroom units were reserved for faculty and staff members and the remaining two-thirds for married students.
The efficiency units were furnished for basic living. The kitchens were equipped with sinks, electric stoves and refrigerators. The living rooms had a divan hideaway bed, dining table with four chairs, a chest of drawers, and a lounge chair. The three-piece bath and shower was finished in ceramic tile and all apartments were provided with ample closet space.
The efficiency units reserved for married students were rented for $69 and included all utilities — electricity, water and heat. The one-bedrooms were equally divided between faculty and students. Rent for students was $79 and faculty/staff was $89 for a fully furnished apartment or $82 for unfurnished.
At the time, one unique feature of Shawneetown apartments was its full cross ventilation system — there were no center corridors and each apartment had its own exterior entrance. The doors were equipped with jalousie windows. Each unit was heated by forced circulating hot water with individual controls.
Each apartment contained an outlet for a TV and a phone plug. Each of the six buildings had a central laundry with coin operated machines and a vehicle storage room for bicycles, tricycles and strollers.
Shawneetown was built with concrete and structural steel with red brick exterior walls. The interior walls were soundproof and the only wood in the building was used for doors and shelving. The buildings were considered fire resistant.
This story on UK's history is presented by UK Special Collections. Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. The mission of Special Collections is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
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