The first section of the building was built circa 1892-1894 as a water filtration and supply station, to pump and supply water from the University's two wells. The electrical station section was built in late 1895, as was (likely) the printing section. A committee headed by UNC Professor Joshua Walker Gore
planned and built the electrical section of the plant and sourced its equipment.
At the time, the University was the sole operator of electric, light, and water and sewer utilities for Chapel Hill (on campus and in town); the town granted UNC a franchise for electric and water lines in 1908, so as to eliminate competition between the University and the town for power/water services and to keep prices down.
A separate, updated heating and lighting plant/building was built circa 1920. It was utilized until 1939 when it was superceded by the Gore Cogeneration Building
on W. Cameron Avenue.
View south, April 28, 1930 (via UNC)
March 1911 Sanborn Map excerpt
December 1915 Sanborn Map excerpt
1925 Sanborn Map excerpt
Interior of power plant, April 28, 1930 (via UNC)