Fifty years is a pretty long life for a college dormitory. But this fall, the A. Mason DuPre Residence Hall turns 50
In February 1961, the college announced plans to build two new residence halls on the north side of Main Building. Main was then undergoing renovations itself, and the administration wanted to create a “mall” surrounded by Main and two new residence halls. The college could also see the potential for baby boom enrollment growth, and new residence halls would allow for modest growth in the student body, up to about 1,000 students.
With the approval of Spartanburg City Council, the college acquired Cleveland Street, which ran directly behind Main Building, and moved forward with construction. They broke ground on Tuesday, September 5, 1961. The building was designed by the Boston architectural firm Perry, Shaw, Hepburn, and Dean. It was a different design that many previous residence halls, as it was the first on campus to have the “cube” style where each student had a separate sleeping and study room. The little rooms shared a larger sitting room, and several rooms together shared a series of small hall bathrooms. Paid for with federal loans, the dorm was budgeted at about $582,000. The cost was ultimately $750,000.
In the spring of 1962, the college announced that the project would be named in memory of Dean A. Mason DuPre, who had been the college’s first dean. Dean DuPre graduated from Wofford in 1895 and worked for over fifty years on the campus. Named dean in 1920, he was also acting president in the 1920-21 school year when President Henry Nelson Snyder was involved with the Methodist Educational Campaign.
The college contracted with Dean DuPre’s cousin, the noted artist Grace Annette DuPre, to paint a portrait of Mason DuPre to hang in the new residence hall’s lobby.
DuPre Hall opened for the fall semester of 1962 and was formally dedicated during Homecoming that fall.
Over the years, DuPre has had its share of ups and downs. For many years, it was the senior male residence hall, and it quickly became the scene of pranks and occasional vandalism. The DuPre clipping file has several mentions of discharged fire extinguishers and trash strewn about the halls. Perhaps the nadir of DuPre was in the early 1990s, when it became a tradition (?) for the seniors to rip out ceiling tiles on Commencement weekend. In 1993, student leadership in DuPre worked very hard to end this dubious custom. In the summer of 2011, DuPre and its neighbor across the mall, Shipp, were completely renovated, and the dorm became more comfortable and energy efficient. With that renovation, perhaps DuPre will be around for another half century.
Photos from the DuPre Residence Hall file, college archives.