MYTHBUSTED: Was The Olde Supposed to be Temporary Housing?

Updated: Mar 20, 2019

by Curtis Brodner


The Olde before it was old. (Photo by Linda Stern via the Purchase Load archives)

As the Olde continues to deteriorate, rumors that the apartment complex was originally built as temporary housing have circulated online and around campus.


“The Olde was supposed to be temporary housing for the people that built the school in the 60s and 70s,” wrote Jenny Lightning, a Purchase graduate, on the Open Forum. “The Olde should be torn down because it full of health and safety violations that the students didn't cause.”


Documents from the Purchase Archives have revealed these rumors to be untrue — kind of.

The criteria that Purchase gave to the Donald J. Stephens Associates architecture firm in 1974 specified that The Olde should be designed for a “minimum 30 year usable life.” While there is no maximum length of use listed, the minimum passed in 2006.


The Olde’s age is showing, and the apartments have had significant problems recently. This year alone, mold, heating failure and a floor cave in have hampered student quality of life and displaced residents.


These are just the most recent issues in a long history of housing problems that have plagued the school since its inception.


In Purchase’s earliest years, students were housed at SUNY Maritime in the Bronx, according to the Purchase website. An arrangement that mirrors the recent housing shortage this year which left 106 students living at the nearby Doral Arrowwood hotel.



The original request for design proposals for the Purchase Apartments that would become The Olde.

“It is unconscionable that a campus that was originally planned and scheduled to open in 1969, and then postponed to 1970 and then to 1971, still may not have dormitories available in 1972,” wrote Abbott Kaplan, Purchase’s first president, to Ernest Boyer, the school’s first Chancellor, in June, 1971.


Now, the new Wayback Dormitory promises 300 new beds by Fall, 2019. At the same time, the Olde, which represents 420 beds, faces major renovations. “The only way to make the Olde accessible is to totally renovate the buildings,” Michael Kopas, Director of Facilities at Purchase told The Phoenix in 2017.


The threat of another housing shortage remains prevalent at Purchase College.

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PSGA Bylaws (August 2018), Student Bill of Rights, Section B. Freedom of Speech, Press and Inquiry


Neither the student government nor any faculty or administrative person or board shall make a rule or regulation or take any action which abridges students’ freedom of speech, press or inquiry, as guaranteed Constitutional rights as citizens of the United States. Students of the campus are guaranteed:

  1.  the right to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them, and to express opinion privately and publicly;

  2. the right to learn in the spirit of free inquiry;

  3. the right to be informed of the purposes of all research in which they are expected or encouraged to participate either as subject or researcher;

  4. the right to freedom from censorship in campus newspapers and other media 

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