Tompkins Hall

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Location: North Campus

Built 1901;
Rebuilt, 1914;
Renovated, 1924 and 1981

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The original Tompkins Hall was the first textile building on campus, designed to resemble the latest turn-of-the-century cotton mills. Electrical power on the campus was not strong enough to operate the building's equipment, which included carding and spinning machines on the top floor, looms and warp preparations on the ground floor, and dyeing equipment in the basement. The building was destroyed by fire in 1914, and its successor reveals the continued influence of industrial architecture. However, the rebuilt Tompkins Hall displays Renaissance motifs in its high ceilings, central tower, roof brackets, and repeated pattern of white-outlined windows. A tower on the new Tompkins, intended to hold a water tank, was never used and, until 1928, displayed the numerals of the senior class each year. The tower was finally shortened and the building was renovated in 1981 for the humanities and social sciences.

It is named for Daniel Augustus Tompkins (1852-1914) who designed it, supervised its construction, and was responsible for the passage of the bill that established the School of Textiles. Tompkins graduated in civil engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. After working as a machinist, draftsman and engineer, he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, with the Westinghouse Corporation. There, he worked as a contracting and structural engineer, developer, and publisher of The Charlotte Observer. His advocacy for the establishment of textile schools at Clemson and NC State and his service on the college's Board of Trustees were essential for the growth of the textiles field. Tompkins established nearly 200 cottonseed-oil mills, 100 cotton mills, and a manufacturing plant for mill machinery; was president of four cotton mills; and wrote several books on manufacturing. His friend, George T. Winston wrote Tompkins' biography in 1908, and the two buildings named after the men have stood beside each other until 1981, when Caldwell Hall connected them.

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