Clark Hall was built in1884 and named for the 1800s University Trustee Willis G. Clark. It contains the Dean of Arts and Sciences Office and the Department of Theatre and Dance's dance studio. It is the central building of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Clark Hall was constructed on the site of the old Lyceum dorm that was
destroyed during the Civil War. It is one of
the eight buildings that make up the Gorgas-Manly Historic District on the
campus of the University of Alabama. This district collectively represents
buildings that stand for the gradual economic rebound of the South following
the end of the war and its defeat. Clark Hall plays an essential part in
representing the Reconstruction Era around the University of Alabama’s campus.
It was originally designed as an all
purpose building and contained a library, reading rooms, chapel, and
large public meeting room with a balcony. Sixteen items were placed in
the cornerstone of the new building, including a silver 1821 dime from
the cornerstone of the Lyceum dorm. The large meeting room was used for
the University's commencement ceremonies, but the extremely tall windows
created a terrible glare and inconvenienced all within.In 1910 the building started to go downhill and by 1948 it was near
collapse with bowing walls from the heavy sagging roof. However, the
engineer Fred Maxwell saved the hall by erecting an interior steel frame
within the building, making it the most structurally sound building on
campus at the time. Still dealing with the problem of the windows, the
university hired a Birmingham artist to paint a trompe l'oeil
effect of the sky outside on the boarded up panes. This only lasted
until the inside needed a fresh coat of paint and had thoroughly
disappeared by 1981 when the building went through its latest
remodeling. The building was originally carefully crafted crafted with cathedral glass window which were later broken and replaced by plain glass.
The building took its name
from Willis G. Clark, an appointed trustee of the University of Alabama.
Originally coming from New York, Clark paved his way to importance by getting
involved in education, business, and was both a credited author and editor. He
advanced the Alabama public education system and went to great lengths to
ensure it had substantial funding. Clark developed an
interest in education and traveled in various northern states to study
outstanding school-systems. Acting under Clark's advice the Mobile schools
began deriving operating funds from sources of revenue commonly used for
education through out the United States in this period.