"Our Dream has Come True": A Brief History of the NC State Bookstore
Contributed by Samantha Rich
As the last student organizations vacate the old Talley Student Center due to ongoing renovations, construction continues on the new $120 million Talley Student Center project. The new Talley building will house Student Government, Student Affairs, University Dining, and NC State Bookstores, among other campus organizations. The new bookstore will boast a coffee house and ample room for textbooks, school supplies, apparel, and gifts.
To make way for the Talley addition, the university demolished State’s fifty-one year old bookstore this past summer. The bookstore building, then known as the Student Service Center, was the talk of campus when it first opened in January 1960. The Technician celebrated the building’s opening on January 18 with a front-page drawing of the center’s façade along with the headline, “Things Will Never Be The Same Again: gone are the old days, gone are the only ways, this is to tell you OUR DREAM HAS COME TRUE…” Described as “ultra modern,” the new building cost an estimated $350,000. G. Milton Small, Jr. served as the architect of the 21,000 square foot Student Service Center, which housed the Student Supply Store and a “fountain snack-bar.” A former State College professor in the School of Design, Small was a student of Henry L. Kamphoefner , the founder and first dean of the design school. In addition to the Student Service Center, Small also designed the Burlington Nuclear Laboratories Building on NC State’s Central Campus and Carter-Finley Stadium . According to the Technician , Chancellor John Caldwell made the first purchase in the supply store on opening day.
The January 18, 1960 issue of Technician also included an essay from English professor Alvin Marcus Fountain describing the history of the NC State Student Supply Store. Fountain revealed, “When the first students came that early fall day in October 1889…books and supplies had to be brought in by hand from the down-town stores.” Students purchased textbooks from Raleigh merchants for many years until a formal Student Supply Store was established in the basement of Leazar Hall (then the college cafeteria) in 1922. Fountain credited the Technician (established only a year earlier) for raising awareness of the new store and providing the advertisement necessary to allow for its success. From 1922 to the 1950s, the supply store relocated to the YMCA Building , benefiting from increased student patronage as college enrollment grew. In 1955, SSS manager L. L. Ivey approached the college with calls for a new building. This initial request led to the construction of the building students and alumni have come to know as the NC State Bookstore.
The Technician declared the grand opening a “great success.” Students who attended the celebration could register for more than 172 prizes, including a drafting table, a transistor radio, and a Sheaffer gold pen and pencil set. Ivey stated, “We are proud of the store and feel that we have a book and supply of which State College can be proud” [sic ].
To learn more about the history of university buildings, visit the NCSU Libraries Special Collections Research Center to view the University Buildings, Sites, & Landmark Files, 1888-2009 . While you’re there, make sure you check out the G. Milton Small Papers, 1950-1984 to learn more about Small’s modernist influence on North Carolina architecture.
Sources: Technician (18 January 1960, 11 February 1960, 9 January 2012); John Morris, “NC State: Please Don’t Destroy the Bookstore,” Goodnight Raleigh (blog), 10 January 2011, http://goodnightraleigh.com/2011/01/nc-state-please-dont-destroy-the-bookstore/ ; North Carolina State University: Talley Renovation and Addition, “Building Occupants in the New Talley,” https://web.ncsu.edu/campusenterprises/talley/BuildingOccupants.php .