This post has been a long time coming, and it’s slightly depressing, because I don’t think I can do justice to Tillman Hall and its history. But I will try and give you just a taste of what it looks like and its place in Clemson’s history, and leave it at that.
You may remember a few weeks ago, when I was “wandering to no purpose” around the Clemson University campus. Back before the pollen, most of the flowers, and the leaves. I wandered past Tillman Hall, to look at some of the trees… but yes, I took pictures of Tillman, also. And then began to take a closer look than usual.
Completed in 1893, it was originally known as the “Agricultural Building”, and then later as the “Main Building”. It wasn’t until 1946 that it was named for a former governor of South Carolina, and one of the original trustees of Clemson.
Most modern students know Tillman Hall for how it towers over Bowman Field, and its carillon that chimes out the quarter hour. Also, if you’re there at the right time, you can hear the carillon students practicing. I think it took my brother a half an hour into a frisbee game before he recognized an actual tune being played. For those with an interest in the carillon, I don’t know much about it, and it doesn’t sound like just anybody is allowed into the Tillman Tower. For now, I did find another blogger that HAS been into the tower, so here is tunnel dunder‘s post on “Inside the Clemson Bell Tower“. If I ever figured out how to visit it myself, please be sure that you’ll hear about it.
Back to my wandering… coming down the side of the Memorial Chapel, for the first time, I noticed the beautiful window structure. I’ve read that though most of the building burned down in 1894, the Chapel wasn’t damaged very much, so maybe the window is original? Or close to it?
When I climbed up the steps to the front porch of the Chapel, I was interested in how shiny the marble of the columns are, while the designs above it are so rough looking. Were the columns like that in the 1890’s? Have they been kept shiny, year after year? The brickwork is very old and lovely, I think.
I noticed the stars on the walls, almost immediately, and wondered at their purpose. Yes, you’ll find that the more I noticed about the building, the more I wanted to know. And I don’t have many of the answers. The stars reminded me of those on the State House, in Columbia, which marks where shrapnel hit the building, during the Civil War (otherwise known as the War for Southern Independence). But these on Tillman Hall are very uniform, as if they were planned, not just there to mark structural damage.
I had never noticed that the sign over Tillman Hall actually reads “Clemson College.”, so please take notice of that period. Scottie Whiteley’s article on Tillman points out that this is because it’s an abbreviation for Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina. Apparently, that would have been a pain in the neck to design the entire title into the stonework.
Taking a step into the front porch, I took note of the design that honors the donors that provided Clemson with its carillon. From there, I turned around to see how the view appears, from the shade of the porch.
Walking around the side of the building, I found other designs over the side door, marking it as the original Agricultural building, and continued to admire the patterns in the brick of the walls. And then looking up at the clock tower, I found that to be beautiful, as well, and wished I could go up and see it at close range (though, of course, you couldn’t see the outside close up, unless you hung out on a rope, so that wouldn’t actually work). But it would be an amazing experience to go see the view from the tower, and see the carillon itself.
Now, fast forward to last week, when I made another trip to Tillman, this time, to use the restroom, during the International Festival. It had been years since I was inside of Tillman Hall (sometime during my one semester of college, in ’98), and I had forgotten about some of the interior designs. Of course, the window structure is just as beautiful, inside, as it is outside.
And it being the Memorial Chapel, of course, there is a wall of memorial tablets, put there in memory of exemplary professors and presidents of Clemson who were also members of the church community. There are several names that you may recognize.
I think I’ll conclude with a slightly crooked picture of Tillman Hall, complete with the tower. I meant to put this in another post, but the crookedness of the photo annoys me. But it really does give you a better idea of the height of the whole building. I could have straightened it, in Picasa, but the process makes the photo blurry. So, I’ll stick with it being clear, albeit crooked.