East Tennessee State University

Retirees Association (ETSURA)

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The following was part of a series of articles on campus name origins published by the East Tennessean in 1985. A journalism class wrote the stories, which are being reprinted periodically.  This segment’s author was Kevin Triplett, who was named to the ETSU Communication Department’s Hall of Fame in 2004.  The former NASCAR executive is currently vice president of public affairs at Bristol Motor Speedway/Dragway.

Carter Hall

Why was ETSU’s Carter Hall named after Mayetta Carter?  Probably because her husband, George, donated the 120 acres of land on which the university was built.  Although there is a high probability that this was the reason, no evidence could be found to verify it.  “She was a quiet, very subdued lady,” said Marguerite Keefauver, head resident of Carter Hall, a women’s dormitory. The source of her information was Ray Stahl, author of the “History of Johnson City.”

Mrs. Carter was definitely a mystery woman.  She and her husband didn’t belong to any civic groups or committees, and Mr. Carter refused even to be seen at public meetings.  One of the few unusual facts uncovered in research on Mrs. Carter was that she could imitate her  husband’s signature so well that it was seldom detected.

Mrs. Carter originally was from Hillsville, Va.  She was the daughter of James Wilkinson, who later became one of her husband’s business partners. 

         Marguerite Keefauver

The Carters existed in anonymity their whole lives. Mr. Carter forbade his newspaper, the Bristol Herald Courier, to ever print his name, and he would often call meetings and then send one of his lawyers to vote for him.  When it came to staying out of the limelight, Mrs. Carter was much the same as her husband.

George Carter was a notorious businessman and apparently let nothing get in the way of a job except for his rest on Sundays.  In fact, he once was fined $50,000 for holding workers on the job with firearms while they built his Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railroad. 

Carter died in 1936, and his wife in 1957. The dorm itself is 200 by 65 feet, with 31,748 square feet of floor space on three floors. It was built at a cost of $923,000 and was first occupied in 1911, when the university opened as East Tennessee State Normal School.


"Tales of the University" is a regular column provided by the ETSU Retirees Association about the university and the people associated with it through the decades.  Faculty, staff, students and alumni are encouraged to share their memories of ETSU with the Retirees Association for consideration for future columns.  Stories, comments and suggestions may be sent to Dr. Chesla Sharp at rsharp@planetc.com.

Mailing Address:  Office of Human Resources
ETSU Box 70564
Johnson City, TN  37614-1707
Telephone:  423-439-4457
Fax:  423-439-8354
TDD:  423-439-4710

Office Hours:  8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. E.S.T. Monday - Friday
Office Location:  Rooms 307 and 311, Dossett Hall

Updated on 09/07/10