Clements Hall: A Window into the Past

Hilltopics

Originally Posted: December 13, 2019

Until recently, most students around campus took little notice of Clements Hall. Despite being directly on the main quad, it has remained secluded behind old trees and a rather plain facade. This would have probably remained the case had the windows been measured properly over the summer. Instead, however, Clements has been thrust into the limelight, or rather, the construction lights. In reality, though, Clements has a far more colorful past than its current façade lets on. Back in its heyday, it was actually known as the social center of campus! So, while Clements is getting its windows together, let’s take a moment to see why the university is going to all this effort to restore it.

Back in 1912, when the blueprints for Clements Hall were being written up, and even Dallas Hall had yet to grace the hilltop, there were actually plans for the yet unnamed Clements to have a sister building. Clements was supposed to be the men’s dormitory, with a matching women’s dorm across the quad (where Umphrey-Lee stands today). However, Clements went ever-so-slightly extraordinarily over budget, so it was made into the women’s dorm, and three smaller men’s dorms were built farther afield for a combined quarter of the cost. (In case you’re wondering why you haven’t seen them on your campus maps, they made it a whole 11 years before spontaneously combusting. Nobody was hurt, but the photos sure made the yearbook exciting!) Back then Clements was known only as the Women’s Dorm, and boasted such amenities as bathtubs, a dining hall, and President Hyer’s apartment. Dinner with the President and his family was mandatory each night, and if any girl wanted to visit the city, she had to get express permission from him. Imagine if you had to ask President Turner any time you wanted to leave campus! Offences that could get girls confined to campus included chewing gum in public, riding in a “horseless carriage” on a Sunday, and having dinner with a boy in a booth. Remember that next time you have lunch with some friends at Umph!

Despite the restrictions, the Women’s Building was as close to a social hub as the campus had. Those two first-floor classrooms were once a classy lounge bookended by fireplaces. This space hosted both social events and the music school’s piano practices. Students relaxed in the fields around campus that were home to wild rabbits, wildflowers, and Professor Hyer’s pig pen. These events weren’t all that happened on campus. Despite the strict regulations, or perhaps because of them, pranks in those days were far wilder than we see today. A few pranksters even set off a stick of dynamite out front of the Women’s Building, scaring off President Hyer’s horse.  READ MORE

By | 2020-01-15T09:59:28-08:00 January 15th, 2020|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, History, Undergraduate News|Comments Off on Clements Hall: A Window into the Past