Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Binns-Merrill Hall

Click on image titles for larger views.
Institution Name: Alfred University
Original/Historic Place Name: Binns-Merrill Hall
Location on Campus: State St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1932original construction Unknown
2001renovation Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: concrete
Walls: brick
Roof: tile
1932-present (2007)other (laboratories for original New York State School of Clayworking, later renamed New York State College of Ceramics)
2001-present (2007)museum (Schine-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art at Alfred)
ca. 2004-present (2007)faculty offices

Significance: architecture
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Binns Hall was built in 1900 when the State Legislature created the New York State School of Clayworking and Ceramics at Alfred University. The original structure, also known as the Ceramics Building, was demolished in 1950 and replaced in 1951 by a new building that was attached to Merrill Hall, which had been built in 1932. This new combination was named Binns-Merrill Hall.

The school, which combines ceramic art and technology in a college degree granting program, was the first of its kind in the world. Facilities for tile- and brick-molding, slip-mixing, glazing, and mold-making were provided using the most modern equipment. There was an experimental laboratory, a museum, a ceramics library, and facilities for artists. The school's first and foremost director was Charles Fergus Binns, a prominent English ceramist who had trained with the Royal Worcester Porcelain Works in England. He directed the school for nearly a generation and was in part responsible for its emergence as an internationally renowned center of ceramic art and engineering, which continues in the building today.

Binns-Merrill underwent a $16 million renovation which was completed in 2001. It also currently houses the Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art at Alfred.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Horowitz, Gary, ed. A Sesquicentennial History of Alfred University: Essays in Change. Alfred, NY: Alfred University, 1985.

"New York State Historic Preservation Building-Structure Inventory Form," (n.d.) Herrick Memorial Library Archives, Alfred University.

Norwood, John Nelson. Fiat Lux: The Story of Alfred University. Alfred, NY: Alfred University, 1957.

Strong, Susan Rumsey. The Most Natural Way in the World: Coeducation at Nineteenth Century Alfred University. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester, 1995.

Todd, Nancy. Alfred Village Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1985.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections, Facilities Management Office
Other: Scholes Library, Archives, NYS College of Ceramics

Contact us / About Site / About CIC
© 2006
Council of Independent Colleges
One Dupont Circle, Ste. 320
Washington, DC
All rights reserved
Last update: November 2006