Carnegie Hall, the second-oldest building on campus, was recently named to the National Register of Historic Places. A plaque recognizing this designation will be unveiled at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 20, as part of the all-virtual Westover Alumni Weekend.
The event will be livestreamed via Google Meet. Links for all Westover Alumni Weekend events can be found here.
Making recorded remarks will be longtime Lynchburg history professors Dr. Clifton Potter ’62 and Dr. Dorothy Bundy Turner Potter ’64, who researched the structure and prepared the 33-page registration form submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior.
S. Allen Chambers, architectural historian and author of “Lynchburg: An Architectural History,” has also prepared remarks.
As its name suggests, Carnegie’s construction was funded in part by a grant from steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie. It was completed in 1909, shortly after the campus’s oldest building, Hopwood Hall. Hopwood was placed on the National Register in 2018.
For 57 years, before it was converted into office space, Carnegie Hall was home to many of Lynchburg’s male students. As one can imagine, hijinks sometimes ensued.
“During my sophomore year, a guy who lived above our room came back from a weekend trip with a little monkey,” Mike Walker ’66 said, adding that after the dean found out “that was one short-lived little resident.”
Walker recalled near-endless games of gin rummy and hearts, and students “riding an ironing board down the stairs, from the third to the second floor.” A tractor tire stored in the basement provided similar amusement.
“Periodically, some guys would take it to the top of the hill overlooking what is now the [softball] field,” he said. “Then one guy would install himself inside the tire and his friends would roll him down the hill. Crazy.”
B.J. Davis ’63 said a “favorite prank” at Carnegie was pitching water balloons out the windows at unsuspecting passersby. “Perhaps the worst prank took place one weekend, when the guys on the third floor all went home,” he added. “When they returned Sunday evening, they found their room completely filled with crumbled newspapers [and] that getting in was impossible.
“They started throwing the papers down the staircase, and then guys started throwing water balloons on top of that. Before long, part of the plaster ceiling began to fall. To say the least, the authorities were quite upset. The culprits were never caught.”
It was during this time that Bill Cloyd ’74 MEd lived with his family in an apartment on the first floor of Carnegie’s center section. His mother, Frances — whom students called “Ma” — ran dining services for the College. His father, David — called “Pop” — was a retired farmer and county farm agent known for his storytelling.
“One of the things I remember [was] my dad would sit on the front benches in the middle section, in front of the doors,” Cloyd, a retired English and social studies teacher, said. “He would sit out there and talk, tell stories. He’d just be sitting there, getting air and sun, and people would come along, and he had lots of stories.”
Cloyd lived with his parents in Carnegie for 10 years, from about age 7 to 17. He said his first memory there was of sitting in a fourth-floor room, watching Hurricane Hazel as it passed through Lynchburg in October 1954.
“Back then, the College had family-style eating, so they had waiters and each waiter had two tables — that sort of thing,” Cloyd said. “Twenty-five or so waiters. Anyway, Hurricane Hazel came through and some of the waiters lived up on the top floor — the fourth floor of the third section — and they let me come up and watch the hurricane.”
For Cloyd, an only child, some students became surrogate big brothers. When Cloyd was in high school, one of his mom’s waiters, Julius Sigler ’62, a Carnegie resident who went on to teach physics at Lynchburg for many years, tutored him in algebra.
With the run of the campus, Cloyd swam in the pool at Hall Campus Center, shot baskets at the gym, and was a ball boy for visiting baseball teams. “The opposing teams gave out more things,” Cloyd said. “If you were a bat boy, you’d get something at the end of the game, like broken bats, cracked bats, balls that were too dinged up.
“I never bought a baseball. … Never bought a bat either. I had quite a collection of bats, all of them broken but they’d been taped back together.”
Growing up at Carnegie Hall was “strange, but to me it was normal,” Cloyd said, although he admitted, looking back more than a half-century later, “it doesn’t seem nearly so normal.”
Walker, on the other hand, wonders how the Cloyd family ever endured the chaos of living in a residence hall full of rowdy college boys. “I never quite understood how they could stand the racket,” he said, “especially on Friday and Saturday nights.”