As my recent wandering session on the Clemson campus drew to a close, I walked down the path to Riggs Hall. And stopped to take a look at all the names of the Class of 1966, imprinted in the walkway. There are several other walks like this, scattered around the campus… I’m pretty sure there’s one on the other side of Fort Hill, but I’d have to go look again.
These names have been walked and rained on, so many times, that they’ve become very worn down. I was really wishing I had some water to dribble on them, in order to highlight them better. But if it had been rainy, I wouldn’t be out, perusing the grounds. So much history, in the buildings and even under our feet.
As I continued on towards Riggs Hall, I saw several students (or maybe prospective students) having a photo op in one of the trees. Some of those trees are just dying to be climbed, so I understood giving in to that urge. But these beautiful trees are way out in the open. I’m more of a tree-climber-when-no-one-can-see-me type of person. One day, I’m going to go for it, and climb that tree near Hunter.
Back at Riggs, I was looking at the strange-looking heads on the side of the building. Again. My camera zoom isn’t good enough to get them in great detail, so I used Picasa to try and punch up the color. The bricks are really not that color, in real life. I suppose you’d need a cherry-picker to actually get close to them and capture major details. I still remember asking an electrical engineering grad student about them, and he didn’t know what I was talking about. He had never noticed them before.
While I had considered whether they might be gargoyles, I know that gargoyles are supposed to be waterspouts. Instead, these are called grotesques. While Clemson legend suggests the grotesques were created by students, and modeled on their least favorite professors, Jerry Reel’s book, The High Seminary, says otherwise. Apparently, Rudolph Lee, who designed Riggs Hall, also hand-molded the grotesques. (If you’re interested, this is a great article on Riggs Hall, and talks about Reel’s book.)
They were modeled on professors, but there’s nothing to suggest that they were of teachers that the students disliked. Grotesques, per their name, are designed to be just that. Grotesque. I’m glad there aren’t any female grotesques up there (at least, I don’t think there are). If there were, that poor lady professor might not have ever gotten over it.
After leaving Riggs, I passed a group of prospective students who were touring the outside of Sirrine Hall, and headed for the bypass through the buildings of the Hunter Chemistry Laboratory. As I walked between the main building and the auditorium building, I was thinking that Hunter’s a bit dull after all the other locations. Not too much exciting about its design, it seemed. And then, I realized that over-familiarity might be blinding me to some more interesting details.
And then, something that had been percolating in my brain for the last few weeks, finally came to fruition. Hunter Hall, which I obviously can’t see from the top, reminds me of a tangram puzzle.
Every morning, I walk around such a sharp corner to go up the steps, and there’s a sharp corner on the other side, too. I already knew the auditorium building is a triangle, which made me wonder if the main building was also a triangle (it’s a triangle with an additional strip added, kind of like a really fat arrowhead). It almost looks like you could shove it up against the main building and form a square (completing the tangram).
Now, having seen an overhead view of the buildings, I know it wouldn’t really form a square, but will you look at those corners! Can you blame me for thinking it might? Those are some sharp-cornered bricks they had to use in the building process.