Built in 1905, Agricultural Hall was named Patterson Hall in 1912. Above is the building as it appeared in 1915.
Archival photos on these pages courtesy of University Archives Photograph Collection, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries
If Samuel Ledgerwood Patterson had had his way, the building that bears his name and houses the administrative offices of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences would have been in downtown Raleigh. That’s one of many fascinating facts to be found about the building known as Patterson Hall, which this year turns 100.
Originally called Agricultural Hall and erected on what was called “Ag Hill” on the young land-grant college campus, the building was renamed to honor Samuel Patterson (1850-1908), who served as state commissioner of agriculture in the early 1900s. He is noted in the history of N.C. State University facilities as having influenced legislation in the area of agriculture and the life sciences and as having initiated progressive legislation such as pure food laws, tick eradication laws, the appointment of state veterinarian and entomologist, and efforts to arrest destruction of field and horticultural crops.
A rear view with water tower in 1917 and below is the building as it appears today.
Agricultural Hall didn’t become Patterson Hall till 1912. “And it is interesting that the building whose location Patterson opposed should bear his name,” say Colvard and Carpenter, who also supply the following information in Knowledge Is Power:
Patterson Hall today
Photo by Becky Kirkland
Photo by Becky Kirkland
Samuel L. Patterson, however, didn’t want the building to be over at the college, which was well west of the city, built on 60 acres of land donated by Richard Stanhope Pullen.
Patterson’s arguments notwithstanding, the new edifice was placed even farther west than the rest of the campus at the time, and on top of a hill – at 420 feet above sea level, the highest point on the campus. To place Ag Hall on Ag Hill was in keeping with what was becoming a national tradition among land-grant campuses, say Colvard and Carpenter.
At a cost of about $43,000, Agricultural Hall was built during the 1904-1905 school year. It was modeled on the agricultural building at The Ohio State University.
Including the basement level, it was three stories of brick with granite trimmings, 208 feet long and 74 feet wide. Its basement housed classrooms and labs used by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying. On the next level were the administrative offices for agriculture, along with agronomy classrooms and laboratories for what was then called soil physics and farm machinery. The third level was devoted to botany and vegetable pathology, zoology, physiology and veterinary medicine.
Agricultural Hall cornerstone is pictured above.
But Patterson’s main floor is still the location of CALS administrative offices, including the office of the dean and the offices of the College’s Academic Programs, the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, the Agricultural Institute and, soon, the offices of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, moving from adjacent Ricks Hall.
Dr. Johnny Wynne is the 11th dean to hold office in Patterson. His predecessors are C.B. Williams (1917-1923), B.W. Kilgore (1923-1925), I.O. Schaub (1926-1945), Leonard D. Baver (1945-1948), James H. Hilton (1948-1953), Dean W. Colvard (1953-1960), H. Brooks James (1960-1970), J. Edward Legates (1971-1986), Durward F. Bateman (1986-1997) and James L. Oblinger (1997-2003).
In 1915, students went out back for some hands-on instruction in farm machinery.
Burkett resigned in 1906 never having officially served as dean. It wasn’t until 1917 that Williams, an alumnus of N.C. A&M, was elected first dean.
The ornate Corinthian columns of Patterson Hall remain true to the architect’s drawing
In 1905, students came to Agricultural Hall to take their agriculture classes. In 2005, Patterson Hall is the administrative core of 22 departments, with classroom and laboratory facilities across the N.C. State campus, as well as 18 research stations, nine field laboratories and Cooperative Extension centers serving all 100 counties and the Cherokee Reservation.
Animal husbandry is now animal science. Agronomy has evolved into crop science and soil science. And zoology, botany and other agricultural and life sciences now are approached from the molecular level of genomics research in state-of-the-art facilities on that new land grant, Centennial Campus.
After 100 years, agriculture and life sciences at N.C. State are at the top of their game – and Patterson Hall is still at the top of Ag Hill.