Workers removed the iconic Clemson House sign from the top of the building July 6. Using a crane, they lifted the letters at about 11 a.m. and gently lowered them to the ground.
It’s the first visible step in the process to bring down the building this fall.
Most buildings at the time were built along classic lines. Then-campus architect Rudolph Lee designed most of the buildings just prior to the Clemson House such as Long, Sirrine and Riggs. All in all, he designed 11 buildings in the heart of Clemson’s historic campus. Clemson House was a radical departure from the buildings that were previously created.
Clemson House had a lot of merit in its day. It was the first of its kind on the state and boasted a clean design. Built originally as a hotel, it had a bathroom in every room and offered all the amenities associated with a hotel. Some referred to it as the smartest hotel in the state. Clemson began housing students in Clemson House in the 1970s.
Why not renovate?
While anything is possible to renovate, the Clemson House would not be programmatically functional to the university, according to university officials.
The building’s floor-to-floor height is just nine feet — the standard of an old residence hall, but modern buildings typically have floor-to-floor heights of 14- 15 feet. Completely renovating the building to meet today’s building codes and seismic requirements would be cost prohibitive, officials said.
And then there are the building’s operating systems. Electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and other systems are not up to code and would all need to be replaced. Officials said that renovation would be much more expensive than building new. And after renovation, they said, the university would still not have a functionally useful facility.
New buildings at Clemson are more sustainable. They must be LEED-certified, which is the widely accepted standard for sustainable, green building construction.
Once the sign is removed, workers will begin the long and complicated task of removing asbestos from the building and prepare the structure for implosion in the fall.
Once the building comes down, it will be used as a construction staging area for Clemson’s new and long-awaited College of Business. Once the new building is constructed, that area will be used as green space. Officials said that the site is being carefully evaluated as part of the university’s long range master plan, currently under development.
The Clemson House sign will be placed in storage for safe keeping.