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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.
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.