- Johnstone Hall
Johnstone Hall is a dormitory at
Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolinathat has housed several generations of Clemson undergraduates. Located on west campus, it originally overlooked the student laundry, the coal-burning Physical Plant and the university fire department, and beyond that the stadium and Lake Hartwell. It is named for an original Clemson trustee and, later, chairman of the board, Alan Johnstone, (served 1890–1894, 1905-1929.) Although it had sections A through F, all that remains today is section A and an annex.
Erected in 1954, the Johnstone Hall complex design became a model for college dormitories, implementing a new raise-slab construction method, a practice which was featured in many architectural magazines at that time. This method - the Youtz-Slick "lift-slab" method - lifted
reinforced concreteslabs onto columns with hydraulic jacks. These slabs weighed 224 tons and were nine inches thick, 122 feet long and 43 feet wide. Johnstone Hall was the largest building complex erected using this method. Campus legend had it that two other similar structures built elsewhere collapsed before completion. Today, only one of the original Johnstone buildings is still standing on the campus. Most of the rooms had been taken out of use by the mid-1990s as obsolete (electrical wiring wasn't grounded, and is still not grounded in the remaining structure).
Situated on sloping ground directly opposite the
John C. Calhounmansion of Fort Hill, Johnstone replaced a group of free-standing barracks dating from Clemson's early military college days. Six dormitory sections, A through F, existed on nine numbered levels, but with no single section boasting more than five floors, as the structure followed the contours of the site in an irregular horseshoe open on the north side. Harcombe Commons dining hall was attached to the A-section interior on level five. Cinder blockannex wings were added onto the ends of A and F sections to increase capacity by the early 1960s. A central student resource center separated A and B sections. This separation would eventually allow females to be housed in A section, while the remaining sections remained all male.
An open air
Loggiaon the ground-floor (level six) at the hilltop overlooked an assembly quadrangle designed to accommodate cadet formations. The Canteen, one floor below the Loggia, faced the formation area. The paved quadrangle, lately serving as parking, was redeveloped into a new student union and student government chambers in the mid-1970s. The campus student locator phone office, the housing office, student government chambers, a small campus retreat chapel (later converted to a job placement office), and all the student media were located in the three levels above the Loggia.
In the early 1990s, B and C sections were demolished and replaced with the more modern McCabe and Holmes Halls, respectively. D section was closed as a dormitory in the mid 1990s, but continued to be used as a university storage facility. E and F sections remained open until 2001, when they were demolished along with D section.
A section underwent a minor renovation in 1999. It is currently used as a co-ed dorm, with men and women on different floors.
* Popularly remembered as "The Tin Cans" or in slang shorthand as "the Stone".
*The Loggia was enclosed by glass walls during the 1970s student union remodeling, but kept its name although it no longer fits the definition.
*The lift-slab design left nearly three foot wide ledges around the dormitory wings which invited a multitude of practical jokes over the years. A popular past-time was known as a "ledge party" and mostly consisted of drinking, listening to music, and sitting on the ledge. A combination of raised drinking ages and a few unfortunates who rolled off the edge while snoozin' & sun-bathing led to metal slugs being welded into the window frames of Johnstone rooms. Afterward, the windows would no longer open wide enough for access, putting an end to the era of Johnstone ledge partying.
*Since the dumpsters are in the basement, residents on the higher floors are more likely to throw their garbage onto the roof of the adjacent food court. Although it is discouraged, it has become something of a pastime for a few residents.
*As the hallways had been designed to allow four-abreast cadet units to march through, they were wide enough to allow for games of "hall football", wide slip-and-slides (constructed of one or more plastic tarps and covered in soap and water), or very congenial hall parties.
*As originally designed, all three wall panels facing outward above the radiator/heater level were glass with the center panel consisting of two horizontal center-hinged panes that could be opened. An all-glass outer wall proved to yield both privacy and ambient temperature issues. A classic late-1960s Clemson postcard of the dormitory showed the outer panels covered by a mix of
cardboard, tin foiland newspaper. The solid glass panes were eventually replaced by a solid fiber wall panel less temperature and modesty conductive.
*All the original dorm rooms had wooden shelving that contained a rifle-rack for two cadet
firearms. After Clemson shifted from a military school to a general university, there wasn't very much use for the narrow vertical slot as nothing much would fit in the space. Before the advent of compact discs, many students stored a double stack of record albums in the otherwise wasted cabinetry.
*Access doors in the stairwells to the utility trunks could be jimmied with a dining hall knife. It was possible to transit from one section to another underground.
*Johnstone - "Where your neighbors know you're going to be a father before you do". Legend has it that in the mid-1990s a student and his roommate were away at class. His ex-girlfriend called and left a message on the answering machine that "the test came back positive" and she was pregnant. By the time the father-to-be returned from class, the entire hall knew because neighbors on both sides of the room heard the machine. In fact, after the message ended, several people went out into the hall to discuss it. The father-to-be left Clemson at the end of the semester.
*Johnstone - "We like to share our music." A student was studying when his neighbor from across the hall came by. The first student complained about the music. The visitor said "If it is a problem, why do you have it on." The answer "It's not mine. It's my neighbor's."
*Johnstone - "Oh, that's our smoking room." Every other room had wall shelving that matched up with its neighbor with removable panels. This allowed two rooms of dedicated dope smokers to set up one room for sleeping and studying and the other room for smoking. The smoking room would have its door taped up and the only entrance would be through the closet panel. This was usually covered with a curtain on each side so that it served as an airlock.
Sources - Several years of residency in said dormitory and much research working for the Clemson student media, The Tiger, TAPS and WSBF-FM
Bryan, Wright, "Clemson - An Informal History of the University 1889-1979" : R.L. Bryan Company, Columbia, 1979. ISBN 0-934870-01-2
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