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Washington Court Apartments

exterior of washington court looking west.jpgOpened: 1957

Closed: 2014

Following the end of the Second World War and encouraged by the GI Bill of Rights, the number of married students on Central's campus skyrocketed in the late 1940s into the 1950s.  Demand for married student housing was originally met with temporary structures provided by the federal government.  These apartments, located north of Wightman Hall, were known as Hopkins Court or Centralville.  By the early 1950s, however, the college began planning for the construction of permanent apartments for married students on campus.  College officials took student experience into account, administering surveys to families living in Centralville about their expectations for married student housing and whether they would be able to afford an increase in rent that would result from a move into more permanent apartments.

Plans for two substantial housing projects—Preston Court (off Preston south of Finch) and Washington Court (east of Washington and south of the main campus)—were first submitted in 1954.  The projects were built with the financial support of the Public Housing Administration.  Both projects were designed by Roger Allen and Associates of Grand Rapids, who drew on the experiences of other colleges with similar housing complexes, including Michigan State and Purdue.  144 apartments in Washington Court opened in February 1957, and another 16 opened in June 1957.  In total, Washington Court contained 90 one-bedroom apartments and 70 two-bedroom apartments.  Rates for the apartments at the time of their opening were $60 for a one-bedroom unit and $70 for a two-bedroom unit.

Each apartment unit came furnished with a five-piece dinette set, refrigerator, stove, automatic washer and dryer.  A double bed, two easy chairs, two end tables, a coffee table, and a chest of drawers were also included in each apartment.  Each unit was individually heated with a gas-burning furnace.  Washington Court, with its high concentration of families and children, became its own community in the middle of campus.  It had a written constitution and representation at student government meetings.  Activities including dances, picnics and a Christmas party for the children of the court were popular among the residents, as was participation in the intramural sports program.

By the early 2000s, Washington Court continued to serve the campus community.  Married students and families, visiting faculty, and international students were some of the most common occupants.  In 2006, the university announced plans to demolish part of Washington Court in preparation for construction of the Education and Human Services Building and an adjacent parking lot.  The western two quads were demolished, although the eastern quad remained for several more years.  In summer 2014, crews from Clark Construction began demolition on the remaining four buildings that had once made up the Washington Court complex in preparation for construction of CMU's new Biosciences Building.