Gardner-Webb yesterday and today

Photo by Elizabeth Banfield.

By: Chelsea Sydnor

In Back to the Future Part II (1989), Marty McFly and Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown travel 30 years forward in time to October 21, 2015. In honor of yesterday’s “Back to the Future Day,” we’re giving you a glimpse of what Gardner-Webb was like in 1955 and 1985, two of the other time periods featured in the iconic film trilogy.

Gardner-Webb has been through several name changes. While it was originally Boiling Springs High School in 1905, it eventually became known as Boiling Springs Junior College in 1928, Gardner-Webb College in 1942, and finally Gardner-Webb University in 1993.

In both 1955 and 1985, our student news publication existed in the print form known as The Pilot. In 2010, it transformed into its current online format,


Students reading The Pilot in 1956.

In 1955, Craig Hall still served as the Dover Memorial Library. It has since become the English building. In 1985, it bore a sign depicting its full name, Hubert M. Craig Memorial.

Craig Hall 1954

Craig Hall 1954

Craig Hall 1985

Craig Hall 1985

Craig Hall 2015

Craig Hall 2015

Hamrick Hall is the third building to stand on its current site. The one pictured here was the replacement for Memorial Hall, which burned down in 1937. The current building was built after yet another fire claimed the second.

Hamrick Hall 1955 and 2015

Hamrick Hall 1955 and 2015

According to Dr. Tom Jones, a professor in the Biology Department and Dean of the Honors Program, the physical landscape of Gardner-Webb would have looked somewhat different in 1985, as well.

“Where the lake is now was more of a swamp-forest,” Dr. Jones explained. He also shared that the microbiology labs were located in a small building around the current site of Mauney Residence Hall.

Mascots, both animate and otherwise, have long been a proud tradition at Gardner-Webb. Butch the Bulldog lived until 1954, while a costumed bulldog helped raise spirits in 1985. Now in 2015, Roebuck the Bulldog has become the new face of Gardner-Webb athletics, along with a new version of the Bulldog suit.

Butch (above), 1954 Roebuck (below), 2015

Butch (above), 1954
Roebuck (below), 2015

Bulldog mascot (left), 1985 Bulldog mascot (right), 2015

Bulldog mascot (left), 1985
Bulldog mascot (right), 2015

Orientation week is also a long-standing event at Gardner-Webb. Big brothers and sisters served to help freshmen become acclimated to college life both in 1985 and now in 2015.

Orientation, 1985 (top) Orientation, 2015 (bottom)

Orientation, 1985 (top)
Orientation, 2015 (bottom)

While several aspects of Gardner-Webb’s campus have changed with the times, the spirit of tradition has remained, including the practice of not passing under the infamous arc until one graduates. The arc has been moved several times. Around 1955, it likely stood near Hamrick Hall.


Photos courtesy of The Anchor (1954, 1956, 1957), The Web (1985), The Webb (2015) [GWU yearbooks]; The Campus History Series: Gardner-Webb University, by Barry E. Hambright and U.L. “Rusty” Patterson;

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