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McBryde Hall (1909 - )

Digitized Collection

McBryde Hall Interior 1954

Winthrop’s first dining hall was in the back basement of the Main (Tillman) Building, which had a low ceiling, poor ventilation, inadequate lighting and was serviced by an outside kitchen connected in the back by a covered hall. The kitchen was in the same building that has been partially enclosed by the McBryde Hall (1909). Covered passageways connected the basement dining hall to the first dormitory, Margaret Nance.

The kitchen, designed by Bruce and Morgan of Atlanta as part of the original campus plan, was a one story masonry building on a high basement with a rectangular plan. It had an overhanging roof and rectangular windows with rusticated granite sills and semi-elliptical brick arches like the Main (Tillman) Building.

As early as 1908 President David Bancroft Johnson began lobbying for a new dining hall and kitchen , and as a result the General Assembly appropriated $35,900 to be paid in three installments.

In 1909, a new dining hall designed by Edwards and Sayward of Atlanta, was built by the J. J. Keller Company of Rock Hill for $32,000. This building was later renamed the dining hall McBryde Hall after Sarah Crosby Chappell McBryde, who served as school dietitian from 1919-45. The original basement dining room has since been partitioned for use as administrative offices. In conjunction with the 1909 dining hall, the kitchen was remodeled and expanded towards the east with a serving section.

The 1909 dining hall is a 212’ x 51’ rectangular building with a raised basement and overhanging gable roof. Stylistically, it is an odd, but interesting, combination of Tudor, Classic and imaginative. The load bearing masonry walls have regularly spaced buttresses dividing the building into bays and supporting a heavy timber ceiling. Within bays are large triple windows with semi-elliptically arched transoms. Main entrances, on the ends, are pedimented double doors set into large, semi-elliptically arched window walls. The ends have high parapets and projecting buttresses.

Masonry walls and buttresses are the building’s main decorative element. Belt courses of light brick and diagonally aligned chevrons and diamond patterns along the top of the parapet add a “Frank Lloyd Wright” effect. Buttresses and parapets are topped with cut stone slabs, pointed caps, and diamond shaped insets conforming to the masonry. An interesting open entrance porch at the north end has the same patterned masonry, symmetrical steps, and an arcaded fountain in the base.

The interior of the 1909 dining hall is dominated by the high, truncated ceiling with an elaborate timber support structure based on English medieval halls. Massive semicircular collar beams and struts connected with transverse collar beams run down from ceiling purlins to horizontal hammer beams with curved braces, throwing the weight of the building onto the masonry buttresses. Strangely, the ends of the Gothic hammer beams are decorated with carved classical scroll pendants. The general effect of this particular ceiling is most like that of Westminster Hall (1399) and the Great Hall at Hampton Court (ca.1532), built by King Henry VIII.

Lighting fixtures were originally hung from the carved pendants but were replaced with fluorescent valances hung from the ceiling and compound fixtures hung from collar beams. In the 1991 renovation, chandeliers and canister lights replaced the compound fixtures. Doors leading to the kitchen serving area and to covered walkways connecting the Tillman Building and dormitories are pedimented like the main end doors, with plaster decorations in the arched bays above them. The dining hall is not directly connected with the Tillman Building, although it abutts the back wall of that building. The basement of the 1909 dining hall is open and used for storage.

In 1930, the annex (originally the lounge and later renamed the Tuttle Dining Room) designed by Edwards & Sayward, was added to the dining hall. It is a smaller rectangular building of similar proportions to the dining hall with full raised basement and gable roof. The annex has the same masonry buttress and wall system as the dining hall and a similar timber ceiling. Its one main entrance is at the east end connecting to the dining hall, with a side landing to the dining hall porch. The west end is closed with an arched window and entrance to the basement below it. This finished basement, originally partitioned for the campus engineer’s offices, is separated from the kitchen with an open passageway for delivering food to refrigerators and storerooms in the kitchen basement. The annex has architectural features which give it a Spanish, rather than English medieval tone. Spindled struts and pendants decorate the timber trussed beam ceiling, which is not a true hammer beam ceiling like the one in the main dining hall. Stylized Gothic pilasters with lighting fixtures frame the door to the main dining hall. These and other Spanish motifs were derived from Moorish Architecture, very much in vogue during the 1920s. The octagonal tracery around the Byrnes Auditorium stage is also taken from Islamic patterns.

The 1909 dining hall and its 1930 annex continued to serve as Winthrop’s main eating area even after 1964 when the Thomson cafeteria on the north end of campus was opened. McBryde was converted into a study hall in 1974. After 1974, it was also used for class registration until the turn of the 21st century. McBryde is still used for special occasions, such as award ceremonies, faculty/staff functions, and can be rented for weddings and other functions by outside parties.

In 1966, the kitchen was remodeled, and the windows were bricked in. Air conditioning was added in 1971. The annex basement, which originally housed campus engineering offices, was converted into a station for campus security after new offices for engineering were built adjacent to the new energy plant. Campus security later relocated and is now housed in the Good Building on Myrtle Drive.

The entire McBryde complex was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, along with the Tillman Building. Interiors of the dining hall and annex are the most architecturally significant on the campus, and the most appealing in a collegiate environment. In 1991, extensive renovations restored the building and made possible the main hall's use for social and conference functions.

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