Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


McClurkan Hall

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Institution Name: Trevecca Nazarene University
Original/Historic Place Name: Alumni Hall
Location on Campus: Center Quadrangle
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1940-1942original construction Snell, A. L.
1980-1981renovation Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone; concrete
Walls: stone
Roof: shingle
1942-present (2007)chapel
1942-present (2007)auditorium
1981-1993other (book store)
1981-1993other (post office)
1993-present (2007)classrooms (School of Religion)
1993-present (2007)academic department building (office suite for School of Religion)

Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Built between 1941 and 1942, with the initial name of "Alumni Hall," the J. O. McClurkan Building set the tone for campus-wide vernacular construction, a project that continues to this day. The idea was to create an edifice on a grand scale that would be large enough to house a greatly needed auditorium, library, and classrooms in the same building and also use local limestone that was available in abundance within and underneath the campus acreage to build it. This strategy was undertaken both to save money and create a building that would fit into its environment in a literal way, and to give the structure a classical collegiate orientation that would resonate with other educational and cultural buildings that dotted the colleges and universities in Nashville, Tennessee, the "Athens of the South."

Taking his cues from these ideals, A. L. Snell, dean of the faculty and professor of psychology from 1938-1945, drew up plans for a building that today remains as useful as it is inspiring to the campus. The McClurkan building in design and also building elements has remained the focal point and model for further construction projects on campus. Most buildings that have come after it have used its basic template as their own, the variations between them only acknowledging the depth of quality of the original design concept. The two and one-half story building, with its exposed basement and water table, cement sill, limestone rubble walls, gable end roof, and a tall two-story projecting gable portico with four simple, equidistant square columns, was built by students with faculty supervision. The building has a tri-fold entryway with two matching rectangular double doors and transoms framing a central door with a pointed arch entry. The building was topped with a traditional Jeffersonian style cupola in its renovation of 1981, but it originally featured a double-platformed tower with a pyramidal roof.

When the building opened, the name was changed to the J. O. McClurkan building, to honor the founder of Trevecca Nazarene University. The large interior auditorium, later named for Eva Green Benson, the wife of one of the university's original board members and earliest major contributor, continues to house campus drama productions and special events. The space has also been used for chapel services and lectures over the years. The building has housed, at one time or another, the campus library, bookstore, prayer chapel, and Dean's office. Today the building is home to the University's School of Religion and, along with its many classrooms, features a small prayer chapel on the second floor.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Wynkoop, Mildred Bangs. The Trevecca Story: 75 Years of Christian Service. Nashville, TN: Trevecca Press, 1976.

II. Location of other data:

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