The Memorial Building’s Last Days
By Reno Bailey
We ran across an old specification booklet dated March 27, 1978 sent out by an architect to contractors. It defines the construction requirements of a clock tower to be built in Cliffside, and was seeking bids on the construction. The name of the firm was Craig & Gaulden, Architects, Inc., Greenville, S.C.
We wondered if the firm still existed, and, if so, would they still have any materials that related to the tower’s construction. We found them—on the Internet, of course. Now they’re called Craig, Gaulden, Davis, a leading architectural firm in Greenville.
As luck would have it, they did have some of the materials: blueprints, photos and a surveyor’s plat of the Haynes site, and detail shots of the old tower on the Memorial Building. These 32-year-old artifacts had been carefully archived. A kind lady at CGD named Kim Poole shared them with us.
These shed some light on the sequence of events in the late 1970’s. Conventional wisdom has it that the Memorial Building was torn down “sometime in the ’70s,” the clock was stored for a “couple of years,” and only then was the decision made to build a new tower on the old Haynes homesite.
The photos from CGD’s archive, made by the architect in July of 1977, shows the building still intact, with the clock still in place. These shots preserve the design details of the tower, so they could be incorporated into the new one.
The earliest of the six Craig & Gaulden documents, the plat, is dated September 6, 1977. The five blueprints are dated March 6 and 7, 1978.
All this indicates that Cone Mills had decided to build a new memorial tower well before tearing down the old one. It also nails down the approximate time the Memorial Building was razed: sometime in the late summer or fall of 1977, or the spring of ’78 (shirt-sleeve weather, at any rate). The clock’s machinery and bells were in storage for a year or less.
From their photos of the Haynes site, we learn the old home had been razed and the lot cleared before the summer of 1977. They also show how the Memorial Building and clock faces had deteriorated in the prior decades. In light of this, it’s unlikely Cone had ever considered restoring the venerated old building to its former glory.
Dates on the blueprints place the new tower’s construction in the summer and fall of 1978.
Follow the links at the top of this article to the photos and blueprints.