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The many lives of the Daniel Building

Written By: information_management - Jan• 12•09

The Charles E. Daniel Building, across the street from Main Building and the Sandor Teszler Library, is sort of the quiet neighbor on the street.  Quiet and nondescript though it may seem, it has an interesting past.  In its first life, it was the college’s first free-standing library.

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The college received a bequest of $10,000 in 1906 from Miss Julia Smith, the daughter of longtime English professor Whitefoord Smith (yes, that’s not a mis-spelling), who had served on the faculty from 1855 to 1891.  A subsequent gift of $10,000 from longtime major donor E. L. Archer (he helped finish paying for Alumni Hall to boot) helped the college get the library project underway.  It opened in 1910.  The original library wasn’t as large as the building is today; the wings were added in 1947 as a way of expanding the reading room and stack space.  The post-World War II renovation, like the original construction, was necessary because of a growing student body and faculty and the need for space for more books.

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The building continued to serve as the Whitefoord Smith Library, though it was later simply the library, until 1969.  When the college opened the new library, the one we currently occupy, in 1969, the old library was converted for use as a classroom and faculty office building.  The art and music faculty and classrooms moved from the Black Science Annex into the ground floor of the newly-named Charles E. Daniel Building.  The departments of government, philosophy, art history, mathematics, accounting, and education, along with a few other assorted professors, moved into the seventeen faculty offices.  Daniel 204, with its elevated horseshoe-shaped desks, was the first classroom of its type on campus, presaging similar classrooms in the Olin Building by 20 years.  The building was also fully air-conditioned, something we take for granted now but which was not universal on DanielBuilding001campus in that day.  A casualty of the renovation was the blocking in of several of the building’s windows.  Many students and faculty criticized the decision to block in some of the windows, though the inside appearance was improved by the renovation.

Some departments moved out of the Daniel Building when Olin opened in 1992, but philosophers, political scientists, art historians and musicians and Wofford’s ROTC detachment still call Daniel home.

In upcoming weeks, I hope to talk about some of the legendary faculty and famous alumni that have walked the campus.  Before Interim is over, I also want to talk about some interesting Interims from years past.  And, since I’m participating in an Interim myself this year, one that is studying Wofford’s oral history, perhaps you’ll hear something about that as well.

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