National Champions

National Champions

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March 20th Clemson Historic Picture Of The Day

Johnstone Hall Early 1970’s

(Photo Uploaded By Alan Cutts)

Today's photo was taken in the early 70s showing the information desk in the plaza area of Johnstone Hall.

Johnstone Hall is a dormitory that 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.

Johnstone Hall 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 concrete slabs 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).

Popularly remembered as "The Tin Cans" or in slang shorthand as "the Stone", Johnstone included a loggia that was enclosed by glass walls during the 1970s student union remodeling, but kept its name although it no longer fits the definition.

A popular pastime 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 snoozing and sunbathing 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.

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 foil, and newspaper. The solid glass panes were eventually replaced by a solid fiber wall panel less temperature and modesty conductive.

Scott Rhymer can be reached at

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