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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

The names you know, the history you don’t: A look at the dorms still standing

Photo courtesy of Wofford Archives
Walter K. Greene, namesake of Greene Hall, the oldest dorm on campus.
Photo courtesy of Wofford Archives Walter K. Greene, namesake of Greene Hall, the oldest dorm on campus.

By Aiden Lockhart, contributing writer

Not so much by policy, but just by practice, (Wofford has) often named residence halls after former presidents as a way of honoring their presidential service,” said Phillip Stone, the college’s archivist. 

Greene, the oldest residence hall on campus, is no exception.

Built in 1950, Greene was named after Walter K. Greene 1903. He was the fifth president, serving from 1942-1951. 

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Greene was the only current residence hall to emerge from a post-WWII development campaign. 

“(Wofford) had a campaign to raise money right after WWII to build what they called the ‘Wofford of To-Morrow,’” Stone said.

Stone said he believes Greene wasn’t air conditioned until the 1980s, and it was the last dorm to be built without air conditioning.

The second oldest dorm, DuPré, opened in 1962. It was named for A. Mason DuPré, who was a long-time dean and acted president from 1920-1921, while President Snyder was fundraising for the Methodist Church. DuPré graduated from Wofford in 1895.

“(DuPré) was known as a stern but fair disciplinarian of students,” Stone said. “He worked here for more than 50 years.”

Shipp, built in a similar style as DuPré, opened in 1963. This dorm was named for Albert M. Shipp, the second president from 1859-1875.

“(Shipp) was the president during the Civil War and kind of kept the college open after the Civil War was over,” Stone said.

Next was Marsh, built in 1969 and named for Charles F. Marsh. Marsh was the seventh president from 1958-1968, and desegregation occurred during his administration.

“Marsh’s son and granddaughter came at some point during the pandemic and wanted to see the dorm that was named after President Marsh,” Stone said. “We got in and showed them around the inside.”

The fifth dorm opened in 1991. However, it would be many years before it was named, and Stone, who graduated in 1994, remembers calling it “the new dorm.”

This residence hall would eventually be named Carlisle, which was a name recycled from the first dorm ever built at Wofford, which was demolished in the 1980s. James H. Carlisle was on the original faculty and was the third president from 1875-1902.

In 1999, Wightman Hall was built and replaced an earlier dorm with the same name. 

“William Wightman was the first president, and he was actually the first chairman of the Board of Trustees, as well,” Stone said.

Wightman served from 1854-1859. After leaving Wofford, Wightman helped found the college known today as Birmingham-Southern and became a Methodist bishop.

Following Wightman was Lesesne, which was built in 2004. This dorm was named for Joab Lesesne, the ninth president from 1972-2000.

“Lesesne’s grandfather graduated from Wofford in 1892, and his father graduated from Wofford in 1919,” Stone said. 

Lesesne himself attended Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina, in which his father would become president.

Richardson Hall, the newest dorm on campus, opened in 2020 and wasis named for Jerry Richardson, the former owner of the Carolina Panthers. Richardson graduated from Wofford in 1959 and was a college and NFL football player.

These honorific building names are not without controversy, however.  

Stone confirmed that Wightman, Shipp and Carlisle were all slave owners. In Aug. 2020, the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) committee recommended that the respective residence halls be renamed.

Seeing these recommendations, the Board of Trustees said that the Office of Marketing and Communications was creating a proposal for new signs and that a committee would be formed to review Wofford’s past.

A faculty statement in response to the Board said a committee would slow progress and that quickly renaming is in the interest of Wofford students.

“Renaming the three residence halls in question, at the students’ request, is an open and clear indication that Wofford College is making a concerted effort to wrestle with its past and to bring its future into alignment with the mission of the college and the tenets of the Methodist tradition,” the faculty statement read.

Wightman is the only dorm of these three that currently has a sign bearing its name. However, two years after the recommendations, students still refer to all three as Wightman, Shipp and Carlisle, as they have not been officially renamed.

The rich and interesting history of Wofford’s academic buildings will be covered in the final installment of this two-part series, which is to be published Dec. 13.

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