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Johnstone Hall

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Title: Johnstone Hall  
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Johnstone Hall

Johnstone Hall, formerly Johnstone A-section in July 2007.

Johnstone Hall is a dormitory at Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina 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. It 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.


  • History 1
    • Description 1.1
    • Trivia 1.2
  • References 2


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).


Situated on sloping ground directly opposite the John C. Calhoun mansion of Fort Hill, Johnstone replaced a group of free-standing barracks dating from Clemson's early military college days. Six residence hall sections, A through F, existed on nine numbered levels, but with no single section boasting more than five floors, as the structure followed the contours of the site in an irregular horseshoe open on the north side. Harcombe Commons dining hall was attached to the A-section interior on level five. Cinder block annex wings were added onto the ends of A and F sections to increase capacity by the early 1960s. A central student resource center separated A and B sections. This separation would eventually allow females to be housed in A section, while the remaining sections remained all male.

An open air loggia on the ground-floor (level six) at the hilltop overlooked an assembly quadrangle designed to accommodate cadet formations. The canteen, one floor below the loggia, faced the formation area. The paved quadrangle, lately serving as parking, was redeveloped into a new student union and student government chambers in the mid-1970s. The campus student locator phone office, the West Campus housing office, student government chambers, a small campus retreat chapel (later converted to a job placement office), and all the student media were located in the three levels above the loggia.

During the fall 1991 and spring 1992 semesters, B and C sections were demolished and replaced with the more modern McCabe and Holmes Halls both of which opened up in the fall of 1994. D section was closed as a residence hall in the mid 1990s, but continued to be used as a university storage facility. E and F sections remained open until 2001, when they were demolished along with D section.

A section underwent a minor renovation in 1999. It was then used as a co-ed residence for several years before returning to all men during the fall of 2011, much to the incoming freshmen's disappointment, except those who continuously party.

In 2007, an architect was contracted to redesign the Student Union. The design called for the demolition of most of the original structures of the union, including the remaining Johnstone facilities. A year later, all University construction projects were halted due to lack of funding and the remodel, as well as the concurrent demolition, was never carried out.


  • Popularly remembered as "The Tin Cans" or in slang shorthand as "the Stone".
  • The Loggia was enclosed by glass walls during the 1970s student union remodeling, but kept its name although it no longer fits the definition.
  • The lift-slab design left nearly 3-foot-wide (0.91 m) ledges around the dormitory wings, which invited a multitude of practical jokes over the years. 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.
  • All the original dorm rooms had wooden shelving that contained a rifle-rack for two cadet firearms. After Clemson shifted from a military school to a general university, there wasn't very much use for the narrow vertical slot as nothing much would fit in the space. Before the advent of compact discs, many students stored a double stack of record albums in the otherwise wasted cabinetry.
  • Johnstone - "Where your neighbors know you're going to be a father before you do". Legend has it that in the mid-1990s a student and his roommate were away at class. His ex-girlfriend called and left a message on the answering machine that "the test came back positive" and she was pregnant. By the time the father-to-be returned from class, the entire hall knew because neighbors on both sides of the room heard the machine. In fact, after the message ended, several people went out into the hall to discuss it. The father-to-be left Clemson at the end of the semester.
  • Johnstone - "We like to share our music." A student was studying when his neighbor from across the hall came by. The first student complained about the music. The visitor said "If it is a problem, why do you have it on." The answer "It's not mine. It's my neighbor's."


  • Bryan, Wright, "Clemson - An Informal History of the University 1889-1979" : R.L. Bryan Company, Columbia, 1979. ISBN 0-934870-01-2

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