Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Caldwell Fine Arts Building

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Institution Name: Hardin-Simmons University
Original/Historic Place Name: Fine Arts Building Caldwell Music Hall
Location on Campus: 2418 Cedar St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1922original construction David S. Castle & Company
1962renovation Olds
2003restoration Waetherl
Designer: David S. Castle; Olds; Waetherl
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism, Modern/pre-WWII (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: pier and beam
Walls: masonry walls, stone facia, with wood joists and plaster interior
Roof: asphalt
ca. 1922museum (college museum)
ca. 1922academic department building (all fine arts classes and studios, School of Music, and band hall)
ca. 2004-present (2006)library (music library)
ca. 2004-present (2006)academic department building (School of Music, including offices, reception space, practice rooms)
ca. 2004-present (2006)classrooms

The Caldwell Fine Arts Building has long served as the home of the college's School of Music: The Simmons College (later Hardin-Simmons College) School of Music was the first institution in the state of Texas to be fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (1930). The following is quoted from historian David Moore's report to the Texas Historic Commission on the request for National Register of Historic Places:

"Caldwell Hall, a stately 3-story, institutional building on the Hardin Simmons University campus, is constructed of load bearing masonry. The building, which utilizes an open subdivided plan, rests on a concrete foundation and has an attic story (parapet) that conceals the building's flat roof. It exhibits characteristics associated with Classical Revival (or Beaux Arts Classicism) architecture, including giant order Corinthian pilasters, rusticated first story, and pedimented entrances.
The front (south) facade is symmetrically designed. A plastered water table serves as a sill for windows on the ground floor. A richly ornamented, hooded architrave forms the surround of the centered main entrance doors. The flat arched windows on the front elevation a 9/1 light configuration.
A wide, continuous, string course above the ground floor acts as a pedestal for six, equidistant fluted Corinthian pilasters. The pilasters rise for two floors and terminate at another continuous string course, which becomes the architrave in the building's entablature. Cartouches flank some of the third floor windows and a brick soldier course lintel interrupted by a keystone further accents these windows. Above the architrave is a decorated frieze capped by a cornice embellished with a medallion band, dentil course, parapet cartouches and molded coping."

"Caldwell Hall was nominated under Criterion A in the area of Education for its contributions to educational efforts in Abilene. It is also nominated under Criterion C in the area of Architecture, as an outstanding example of Classical Revival architecture. The building is in good condition and retains its integrity. Hardin-Simmons University, like Abilene, experienced tremendous growth during the 1920s, and many buildings were erected during the decade. Caldwell Hall is the least altered and best preserved historic building on campus. Clifton M. Caldwell, an attorney from Breckenridge who made wise land and oil investments during the oil boom there in 1919, gave Hardin-Simmons $100,000 for the construction of the building. Caldwell, besides being a strong supporter of education in general, apparently was a great lover of music, and he owned a music store that is still in operation today.
Caldwell Hall exhibits characteristics associated with Classical Revival architecture, including its giant order Corinthian pilasters, rusticated first story, and pedimented entrances. . . . The building retains much of its historic character and is the most intact historic building on the campus of Hardin-Simmons University."

One item possibly unknown to Dr. Moore is that the building has two lovely stained glass skylights that were hidden by the 1962 renovation, but that are now visible due to the 2003 restoration. The interior photo shows the skylights and the interior plaster design work. The building's architect was David S. Castle, and the contractor was H. M. Seby.


Hardin-Simmons University Facilities Master Plan. [n.d.] Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, TX.

Moore, David, and Amy E. Dase. Caldwell Hall [Hardin-Simmons University]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1992.

Richardson, Rupert N. Famous Are Thy Halls. Abilene, TX: Abilene Printing & Stationary Company, 1976.

Stackhouse, Yvonne. Hardin-Simmons University, a Centennial History. Abilene, TX: Hardin-Simmons University, 1991.


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Last update: November 2006