East Hall, named for its location on the Quadrangle, was completed in 1909 and designated as a men’s dormitory, thereby solving a housing crisis on campus.
The building is unique among the first of the late Georgian-style granite buildings on the Quadrangle with its introduction of arched windows on the first floor and its edgings of brick trim.
Original plans for building were nixed when students complained the rooms were too small for two or three residents. A modified plan for $36,877 building cost an additional $2,000 and decreased the number of residents to 63.
The last minute changes delayed construction. When the building opened for the 1909 fall semester, the plumbing wasn’t operating, forcing students to wash themselves using rain barrels placed outside on the lawn.
The opening of East, allowed the former men’s quarters in Davis Hall to be remodeled and used as a women’s dormitory as well as a new home economics program.
Following the building’s use for housing, the Physics Department became the occupant of East Hall, after residing in Quonset Huts during World War II. The Physics Department makes East Hall its home to this day.
The stately buildings ringing the University of Rhode Island’s Quadrangle helped shape the story of the institution. Here, on the occasion of URI’s 125th Anniversary, we present you with a narrative behind the walls of that historic timeline.
**Much of the historic data in this article was culled from information provided by the late Sandy Taylor, a champion of historic preservation and land conservation, who served as University Architect from 1987 until his retirement in 2005. We are also deeply indebted to students enrolled in Catherine DeCesare’s history class last fall who provided additional information. DeCesare is a history coordinator, academic advisor, and lecturer. Finally, we would like to thank Mark Dionne, Archives and Special Collections, for his patience and vast knowledge.