1891: Small group of Alumni raise funds for new dormitory
In December of 1890, Presbyterian College of South Carolina received a gift of sixteen acres of land from J. W. Copeland and R. Newton S. Young of Clinton, and the Presbyterian College campus began to take shape across South Broad Street from Thornwell Orphanage.
The first building erected on the new site was Alumni Hall, now known as the old Doyle Infirmary. This winter Alumni/Doyle Hall will be taken down 123 years after it was built.
“This gift of land immediately sparked the first really productive action on the part of the fledgling Alumni Association which endorsed the plan to raise $2,500 to build an Alumni Hall dormitory on the new site. J. Ferdinand Jacobs, son of the founder and an 1887 graduate was named financial agent …[and] went right to work canvassing different parts of the state–raising funds among some of the churches as well as the small alumni body.” (The Spirit of PC, Ben Hay Hammett, 1980)
We need to remember not only that Alumni Hall/Doyle Infirmary was built by the Alumni Association of Presbyterian College in 1891, but also that there were only 18 alumni of this college at that point in time. After the founding of the college in 1880, PC graduated its first class of three students on July 5, 1883. We can find no record of graduates in 1886 or 1888. Since seven of the first 18 graduates were women, most likely without an independent income, the fundraising of the alumni is all the more impressive. (Registrar’s Book, Presbyterian College Archives & Special Collections)
By 1892, Alumni Hall, Cottage Dormitory, and a wood frame mess hall were the only campus buildings erected on the hillside above what is now Calvert Avenue. These buildings provided housing and food service while Recitation Hall on the Thornwell campus remained the primary academic building for the college until 1907. Today Alumni Hall/Doyle Hall stands between Georgia Hall and Springs Campus Center in the shadow of Neville Hall.
The final cost of the first building constructed on the new campus was $2,700. “For this sum the College gets a handsome building, three stories high, with six rooms on each floor. Every room is finished handsomely, has commodious fireplaces, two to four windows in each room, and every room is large enough for two students … the rooms are rented at Ten dollars a year to each student.” (Our Monthly, September, 1891)
The building was originally stucco, and was used as a residence hall until 1942 when alumnus Dr. E. Clay Doyle of Seneca, South Carolina, provided funds to convert it into an infirmary. During this renovation, the original stucco exterior was replaced by red brick, and the main entrance was moved from the side to the front of the building. After Reynolds Infirmary was built on the East Plaza in 1972, Doyle was used only for overflow student housing for several years between 1978-85, then returned to its original mission as a residence hall housing 25-28 students until it was closed in 1999 (Presbyterian College Catalogs). Since that time Doyle has been vacant.
Mark McCallum ’82, “an original Doylian” overflow student, shared his Memories of Doyle with us for the January 2010 Blue Notes column.
Even though it is sad to see this historic building taken down, we wanted to recognize the dedication of our very first alumni to the future of their alma mater, Presbyterian College.
We welcome the comments and recollections of the alumni and friends of Presbyterian College. Please contact us if you have additional memories or photographs of Old Doyle Infirmary/Alumni Hall that you would like to share with the college Archives.
Teresa Inman, Archives and Special Collections Librarian