112 History of Wake Forest College
Again we are told in the Recorder of April 6, 1836, that "the
building is rapidly advancing under the efficient management of
Captain Berry." The Raleigh Register had noticed the building as
early as March 21, 1836. In the same paper of January 17, 1837,
William Roles, Secretary, announced that the Trustees were happy to
state that the College Building would be in readiness by the beginning
of the first term, February 1, 1837.26
When completed, it was perhaps the best college building in North
Carolina, and until its destruction by fire on May 5, 1933, the
stateliest on the Wake Forest campus. The labor of making the brick
and of building was done by the slaves of Captain Berry, two of
whom lost their lives by a fall from the building. They were buried in
the Wake Forest cemetery both in one pit grave with walls of brick
extending about two feet above the ground, but now leveled.
A further word may be said about the materials used in the building.
The bricks were of poor quality, since the clay of which they were
made contained too much sand for brick, as does all the clay near
Wake Forest. Except on the outside courses of brick the mortar used
was too poor in lime. The result was that in the chimneys cracks
developed. After the building was burned most of the bricks
powdered on being handled, and the mortar
26 It is stated in the "History," Bulletin I, 4 ff., and frequentyl reprinted, that, "the
first college building was completed in 1838." There is no authority for that
statement. In addition to the statement of Mr. Roles mentioned in the text there is
much other evidence that the building was completed and in use before 1838. Rev.
John Culpepper in a letter in the Biblical Recorder of July 19, 1837, speaks of the
building as being finished. A writer of a series of articles on the Institute, in the
Recorder of January 27, 1838, says, "This building has been completed within a few
months." The records of the Philomathesian Society of 1837 show that the Society
was having some work done on the hall assigned it on the top floor of the building.
These alterations, done by Captain Berry, are possibly what the writer of the
"History" had in mind in saying that the building was not completed until 1838. The
following statement from the report on "Wake Forest Institute" made to the Chowan
Association at its meeting May 12-15, 1836, shows at least what was expected. It
reads: "The college building is now progressing rapidly, and it is expected that by
September or October next a considerable part will be ready for use." Brooks in his
Diary says that the dormitories of the College building were occupied on
Wednesday, August 24, 1836, and that worship was first conducted in the College
Chapel on July 2, 1837.