August 2010

Beating the Heat

Our thanks to archives assistant Sarah Leckie for this month’s blog.

Each spring as the weather gets warmer, there are certain things we can expect to see on the Presbyterian College campus:

Students relaxing outside,

Students beside fountain c1990

Students beside fountain c1990

perhaps sunbathing,

Sunbathers c1982

Sunbathers c1982

and sometimes even professors conducting class in the open air!

Thompson class on Neville steps

Thompson class on Neville steps

But this is South Carolina, so the temperature keeps climbing higher and higher, until by mid-summer such outdoor activities have become first unappealing, then unthinkable. Lately it’s been so hot outside that all we want to do is stay inside in the air conditioning – and that got us to wondering when air conditioning first came to PC.

The first mention of air conditioning in catalog descriptions of college facilities refers to Belk Auditorium: “this building includes an air-conditioned auditorium with seating capacity of 1,200.” Apparently more wide-spread installation of air conditioning and full co-education occurred at PC at about the same time when, during the administration of Marc C. Weersing, PC undertook the largest construction program in the college’s history. Ground was broken in 1964 for three buildings: Richardson Hall of Science, Greenville Dining Hall, and Clinton Hall, PC’s first dormitory for women. All three of these buildings were air conditioned. A 1965 press release to The Greenville News stated, “ Setting the tone for full coeducation – and the delight of all the girls – is new, air-conditioned Clinton Hall.”

Clinton Hall

Clinton Hall

It wouldn’t be until 1967 that the first centrally air-conditioned dormitory for men, Georgia Hall, was opened, although the 1964 renovation of Smyth Hall did include outlets for student-furnished air conditioning in each room.

Prior to the 1960s, everyone at PC apparently got along fine without air conditioning. We’re just glad we don’t have to!