Lowman Hall originally served as a men’s dormitory on the campus of South Carolina State College (now University), a historically black land-grant institution. The campus is located across a main highway from downtown Orangeburg and is the state’s center of black higher education. Built in 1917, Lowman Hall is one of the oldest intact campus structures and reflects the school’s first major building campaign.
The school was founded in 1896 as the Colored Normal, Industrial, Agricultural and Mechanical College of South Carolina, shortly after the state constitution mandated segregation in education. In an era of virulent racism stoked by politician Benjamin “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, the new college struggled to obtain adequate funding from the General Assembly. Some of the first permanent campus structures consisted of classroom and office buildings, dormitories, and the gymnasium designed by South Carolina State’s architecture professors. Miller F. Whittaker (1892–1949), one of the state’s earliest professionally trained African American architects and later president of the university (1932–1949), designed five buildings for the campus, including Lowman Hall.
The dormitory is a three-story brick building with a hipped roof and brick quoins on each elevation. The original roof material is unknown, but the latest rehabilitation included installation of metal tiles that give the appearance of terra-cotta. The front facade features a one-story portico that shelters the main entrance. The building has wood windows, and the interior features wood floors, original plaster, and doors with transoms. Lowman Hall originally had 80 rooms but over time, the rooms were either consolidated to form larger gathering spaces or turned into bathrooms. Lowman Hall housed students until 1993. South Carolina State recently rehabilitated the building and converted it into its main administrative offices.
“Lowman Hall Rehabilitation.” AIA South Carolina. Accessed February 26, 2017. www.aiasc.org.
“Lowman Hall, South Carolina State College,” Orangeburg County, South Carolina. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1965. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
Martin, Frank C., II, et al. South Carolina State University. Charleston, SC: Acadia Publishing, 2000.
Reid, Richard. “The S.C. State Presidency: Miller F. Whittaker.” Orangeburg Times and Democrat, May 27, 2008.
Wilson, Dreck Spurlock, ed. African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary, 1865-1945. New York: Routledge, 2004.