Others lived in the college hotel (built c 1895) and its two annexes (built c 1908). The hotel served mostly as a rooming house or boarding house. The majority of the residents were single male professors. But some married couples and families lived there until they could find permanent homes. In later years, some single women who worked on campus or taught in the local schools also lived there.
In 1948, at the suggestion of the Board of Trustees, President Robert F. Poole appointed twelve faculty members to the Clemson Housing Committee led by John H. Gates, head of the School of Architecture. The committee was charged with investigating a solution to the campus housing shortage.
The Tiger newspaper reported: "Formation of the Clemson Housing Committee was inevitable in the face of the phenomenal growth of the college during the war years. Enrollment has increased until facilities that were designed for fifteen hundred are now servicing three times that many. Along with an increased student body there must be a corresponding increase in the faculty. These new faculty members and married veterans brought a housing problem that the college has almost been unable to cope with!" (September 23, 1948)
Clemson Homes comprised one hundred two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments spread through fifty buildings, mostly duplexes. Originally housing faculty members and their families, Clemson Homes eventually became married student housing, later called graduate student housing.
photos from the early 1960s
In 1981, the Board of Trustees named the Clemson Homes buildings Douthit Hills for Joe B. Douthit, Jr. Douthit was a former member of the Board of Trustees who sold his farm to the University to be part of the Simpson Experiment Station. He lived his later years in a house near the area named for him.
The remaining Clemson Homes / Douthit Hills homes were closed in 2006 because of the cost of maintaining them. A few were moved. The rest were torn down in preparation for the Douthit Hills housing, dining, recreation and parking complex which opened in August 2018.
The apartments were intended to be rented by the campus’ African American staff who primarily worked as janitors, groundskeepers, in the laundry or in the dining hall kitchen. South Carolina was a racially segregated state in 1950. There were no African American students at Clemson until Harvey Gantt’s successful lawsuit to integrate the school in 1963 and no African American faculty until about a decade later.
Tom Littlejohn Homes ended up not being affordable enough to entice the college's African American employees to move there. Littlejohn Apartments eventually became married student housing / graduate student housing. They were sold in 1989 and later torn down.
photos from the early 1960s
Clemson House was designed by Lyles, Bissett, Carlisle and Wolff, headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina. All four were graduates of Clemson's architecture program. Their firm later designed Clemson's R.M. Cooper Library.
Clemson House was built by Daniel Construction Company of Greenville, South Carolina. Charles Daniel served on Clemson's Board of Trustees from 1949-1958. Daniel Construction Company also built Sirrine Hall and Johnstone Hall on campus.
A 2009 historic preservation report described the building's basic architectural features: "Clemson House is a rectangular . . . [building] of concrete-block construction. The flat roof . . . drains to internal drains. The building is set on a poured concrete foundation and sided with yellow brick in the front and rear, and exposed poured-in-place concrete on the sides.
Horizontality is emphasized on its front and rear facades, which feature contrasting horizontal bands of brick. Smooth bands of brick with flush joints are divided by projecting header belt courses of brick with recessed joints. Within the bands with recessed joints are rows of double and triple windows, with the same fenestration pattern on each floor. The end walls are exposed, poured-in-place concrete."
Clemson House originally was intended to be primarily an apartment building. After construction was underway, the Board of Trustees decided that there was a greater need for providing more rooms for temporary visitors to campus. The original Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loan was replaced by the sale of revenue bonds issued by the Board of Trustees. Two and a half million dollars worth of bonds were issued for the three-part housing project.
Future operation of Clemson House depended on room rents and profits from the hotel. But the initial funding was not enough to prepare the hotel for its first customers. As college officials scrambled to find funding, a campaign was launched to raise $250,000 from alumni and friends for already-ordered materials to furnish and equip the dining rooms, lobby, kitchen and hotel rooms. The prospectus reminded potential donors of the reason for the new hotel building:
Several hundred alumni and friends contributed to the fundraiser, although a number of items were purchased by larger donors and companies.
The first permanent residents moved into Clemson House in mid-October 1950.
The first guests stayed for the night of October 31st
All the guest rooms were filled for that weekend's Homecoming activities and football game against Duquesne University. Opening weekend events also included a concert by the Clemson College Band on the terrace and a $1 luncheon in the dining room.
The Saber Room main dining room had seating for 300 and "a polished slate floor suitable for dancing." It served "superb cuisine prepared from farm and dairy products of the famous Clemson Farm."
The Saber Room featured a forty foot long by seven foot high mural by artist Gilmer Petroff. Petroff taught art at Clemson from 1947 until 1950 when he began working for Lyles, Bissett, Carlisle and Wolff and the Columbia (SC) Museum of Art.
Known as "South Carolina's largest mural," the abstract design represented the four years of the life of a Clemson cadet. It provided a lively topic of conversation for Clemson House diners for many years.
A stainless steel statue of the Tiger mascot by Charleston artist Willard Hirsch was installed in the middle of a reflecting pool in front the building. The water was removed from around the statue c1996.
Clemson House housed only women students until Fall semester 1982. It became co-ed when the new Calhoun College honors program moved into the sixth floor.
By 1989, the Honors College occupied two and a half floors. It remained a part of Clemson House until 1994.
Other student groups also lived together in Clemson House at times over the years, including members of the Lady Tigers basketball team, international exchange students, the Civics and Service House and the Wellness Living-Learning Community. Throughout, students and permanent residents enjoyed sharing the building.
Lila S. Holmes Ballroom (former Clemson Room). Holmes, the wife of a History professor, helped restore Fort Hill, the home of the Calhoun and Clemson families, in the 1920s and 1930s.
Virginia Poole Room (former Gold Room). Poole worked in various departments at Clemson from 1937-1972. She lived in the original Clemson Hotel and in the Clemson House.
Virginia Shanklin Room (former Purple Room). Shanklin was secretary to four Clemson presidents.
Bill Greenlee Room (former Blue Room). Greenlee worked for Thomas Clemson, Clemson College and the town of Clemson. He was over 100 years old when he died in 1972.
Fred L. Zink Dining Room. Zink was manager of the Clemson House from 1950 - 1970 and continued to live there after his retirement.
In 1990, the former South Lobby was converted into three seminar/meeting rooms. These later were used for campus offices, including the University Ombuds Office from c2002-2017.
Clemson House's 50th anniversary on November 1, 2000 was celebrated with a party. Attendees included architecture professor emeritus Joseph L. Young, the building's longest permanent resident. Young moved in when Clemson House opened and lived in room 705 for fifty years, hosting tailgating events before every home football game. The penthouse later was named the Joe Young Penthouse.
The End is Near
With the opening of the Core Campus housing and dining project in 2016, the decision was made to end Clemson House's life as a student dormitory. The last students moved out of Clemson House in May 2016. They covered a downstairs wall with goodbye messages.
The Clemson House Barber Shop remained open until May 2017. It had been operating in Clemson House since the building opened in 1950.
Many generations of Clemson students, ROTC cadets, faculty, staff and community members enjoyed the convenience and camaraderie of the on-campus barber shop.
photos courtesy of Ken Scar