The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

A last look: Johnstone Hall and the University Union

Avery Mock // Asst. TimeOut Editor
Johnstone’s built-in wooden closets included rifle racks, as the structure was originally built for the cadets on campus.

If you’re walking behind Old Main, you have probably seen the abandoned, dilapidated structure known as Johnstone Hall and the adjacent Edgar A. Brown University Union. While students are able to access some remnant rooms of the union, such as the bowling alley, most parts of these buildings are restricted and have not been viewed by students in years.

This upcoming summer, both the Union building complex and Johnstone are set to be demolished. The demolition has been in talks for over 15 years but is finally being set in motion. 

Before the buildings are torn down forever, The Tiger took a tour of what was once one of Clemson’s most prominent places on campus.

Johnstone was erected in 1954, originally sprawled across all of what is today known as core campus, with buildings A-F and two annexes added later on. Today, only building A and A Annex still stand, and not for much longer.

Johnstone was built from the top down through a unique construction style known as raised slab construction. Nicknamed the “Tin Cans,” it housed several generations of Clemson students, including Harvey Gantt, the school’s first African-American student, according to Clemson University’s Division of Inclusion and Equity

Alumni who lived here may recall the paper-thin sheet metal walls or students dangerously walking along the ledges right outside their windows. Each dorm room had a sink, along with built-in wooden closets that included rifle racks, as the structure was originally built for the cadets on campus.

The bathrooms and hallways are reminiscent of the Shoeboxes, which were built in the 1960s. In its current abandoned state, Johnstone is dark, damp and dusty. Old marked-up walls, broken glass and an accumulation of dormitory artifacts now make up most of what is in the otherwise empty building.

The University Union, constructed after Johnstone in the 1970s, was once a much more active spot than the storage facility it essentially is today. Inside, the Union held the Palmetto Ballroom, Edgar’s Pub, the Canteen, Harcombe Dining Hall and a Chili’s Too.

Edgar’s Pub, previously located where the Underground Recreation Center is, had pool games, live music and, most interestingly, alcohol before the legal drinking age was increased. The Canteen, now an inaccessible part of the Union, was a convenience snack mart.

Today, most spots inside of the Union look like they belong to the backrooms, with the once-grand spaces left empty, save for an abandoned chair or two.

The old Harcombe kitchen and dining hall have been converted into a makeshift storage facility for all of the surplus furniture that was discarded during the COVID-19 closure and for other reasons. Tables, chairs, desks and bedposts pile high where students once dined. Still, the ’70s vibes remain intact, with red, purple and green bubble wallpaper. 

These vintage buildings are set to be demolished in summer 2023 and will be converted into green space. They served as a core memory for Clemson students for decades, and their destruction marks the end of an era.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Avery Mock
Avery Mock, TimeOut Editor
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *