I’m not sure any building on campus has had as many names as
the Hugh S. Black Building.
We still have a handful of nineteenth century buildings on
the campus – Main Building and the four homes that made up the original
campus. But I’m not sure that many
people on campus realize that the building that houses Admission and Financial
Aid offices is another structure dating from the nineteenth century.
Times seemed good in Spartanburg during the 1880s. With railroads and textiles, the city was
experiencing its first taste of prosperity since before the Civil War. Wofford had never officially provided housing
for students, preferring instead to let them board with families in the village
or with professors on campus. The
home-like atmosphere, trustees and professors felt, would be better for the
students. But by the 1880s, with
enrollment hovering in the upper 70s, and with students living in unused rooms
in Main Building, the trustees decided to build three cottages to be used as
When the alumni got wind of the plan, in a spell of
generosity, they asked to be allowed to raise the money for a single dormitory
for the students. They pledged to raise $10,000,
and they organized local alumni chapters throughout the state to raise the
funds. The trustees accepted the alumni
association’s offer, though it took some time for the alumni to actually raise
And so, with Masonic rites and with much of Spartanburg’s
leadership looking on, the college laid the cornerstone of Alumni Hall on
Friday, October 19, 1888. Edgar L.
Archer, of the class of 1871, who had made substantial contributions to the
construction of the building, led the opening prayer, and the featured address
was a biographical sketch of Benjamin Wofford, presented by John Bomar
Cleveland of the class of 1869, another significant donor and later a trustee
of the college. President Carlisle also
When the building opened it was, as one observer described,
“commodious and well appointed, and furnished with all modern conveniences, and
is a pleasant home for many students.” The building, as originally built and as the photo shows, was four
In 1895, Alumni Hall became the home of the Wofford Fitting
School, which had been in operation since 1887 in the buildings of the old
Spartanburg Female College, in what became the Spartan Mill village. Alumni Hall remained part of the fitting
school complex until it was discontinued in 1924.
As is the case with buildings at so many colleges, fire
played a role in Alumni Hall’s history. On the night of January 18, 1901, a fire nearly destroyed the
building. It was, as The Journal
reported, a severe loss to the college. In
the aftermath of the fire, the Journal reported, “the kindness of the people of
all parts of the city to the students of the Fitting School was very gratifying
to the college authorities. Telephone
messages came thick and fast to offer temporary homes to the young men, and
they were soon provided for.” President
Carlisle was reportedly unsure as to what action to take, but the trustees
quickly decided both to rebuild the hall and to build a larger facility for the
Fitting School’s classrooms. The new
building, constructed next door to the re-named Archer Hall, provided extra
recitation rooms for the students in the Fitting School. Archer Hall was rebuilt, but without its
third and fourth floors, and took its new name from the largest original donor
to the building.
With the closure of the Fitting School, Archer Hall reverted
to the college. The building was used as
a dormitory until the 1950s, though in the late 1940s, it was used as meeting
space for fraternities. In the early
1950s, the building was re-conditioned for use as a dormitory to meet
enrollment growth. With gifts from
Spartanburg’s Black family, the building received its third name: the Hugh S.
Black Dormitory. By 1959, it had become
the home of various campus offices, and at that point, it became the Hugh S.
In the early 1980s, the neighboring Snyder Hall was
demolished, and in 1986, the Black Building was connected to the
newly-constructed Neofytos Papadopoulos Building.
Pictures: Alumni Hall-the Hugh S. Black Building-at
different points in its long life.