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The oldest academic building on the Marietta campus, Erwin Hall is a three-story, brick Greek revival building with a three-stage wooden clock and bell tower. The cornerstone was laid in 1845, ten years after the chartering of the College. The rectangular structure has brick Doric pilasters running full height on all sides of the building. The pilasters are doubled at the façade corners and continue above the roofline on the sides as chimneys. With the construction of Alumni Hall in 1870, Chapel Building became known as Middle Building on campus row. Previously called Science Building, in 1894 the trustees renamed the building Erwin Science Hall in recognition of Cornelius B. Erwin, a generous benefactor of the College. In 1907, the building was officially named Erwin Hall. During a major renovation of the structure in 1970-1971, a basement was excavated for mechanicals, walls were reinforced, new roof trusses were installed, and a ground-level entrance was made in the rear or mall/street side of the building. The exterior of Erwin Hall looks much the same today as it did when completed in 1850. The 1970-1971 renovation dramatically altered the interior of the building, however. Fireproof stairs at either end of the building replaced the central wooden staircase, and new floors and walls were installed. Erwin Hall houses classrooms and faculty offices and remains today, as when it opened in 1850, a building for instruction.
With its wooden clock and bell tower, Erwin Hall has long been a symbol of Marietta College to students, alumni, and friends. Its stylized façade and tower appears on college publications and memorabilia, and the building has been referred to as Marietta College's "flagship by virtue of its age and commanding presence of its clock-faced bell tower." After the "spontaneous movement" in 1845 for its construction, citizens of Marietta and Washington County contributed money as well as building materials and labor to complete the building. A clock has operated in the tower since 1852, and even after having been electrified in 1948, has not always shown the correct time synchronized on all four sides. Early alumni told of numerous pranks involving the bell clapper and hands of the clocks in Erwin's tower.
Erwin Hall continues to be a part of the traditions of Marietta. For example, during the academic procession at commencement, the tower bell tolls the number of years since the first commencement in 1838.
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Hawley, Owen P. [Erwin Hall, Marietta College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1973.
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