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Lyman Hall (academic)

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This article is about the second president of Georgia Tech. For the Georgia governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, see Lyman Hall.
Lyman Hall
Lyman Hall 1896.jpg
Lyman Hall circa 1896
Born (1859-02-18)February 18, 1859
Americus, Georgia
Died August 16, 1905(1905-08-16) (aged 46)
New York
Fields Mathematics
Alma mater Mercer University
West Point
Known for President of Georgia Tech

Lyman Hall (February 18, 1859 – August 16, 1905) was a professor and president of the Georgia School of Technology (now called the Georgia Institute of Technology, commonly referred to as Georgia Tech). He is perhaps best known for bringing what is now the School of Materials Science & Engineering to Georgia Tech. Hall's administration also introduced degrees in electrical engineering and civil engineering in December 1896, textile engineering in February 1899, and engineering chemistry in January 1901. Hall died in 1905, reportedly due to the stress of fundraising for a new chemistry building which now bears his name.

Early life[edit]

Born in 1859 in Americus, Georgia, he attended Mercer University in Penfield, Georgia.[1] He was admitted to the United States Military Academy in 1877, and graduated in 1881.[1][2] Due to a physical disability, he was unable to have a military career; instead, he taught mathematics at the Georgia Military Academy in Kirkwood, Georgia for two years and subsequently at the South Carolina Military Academy in Charleston, South Carolina (now known as "The Citadel") from 1883 to 1886. He was then a professor at the Moreland Park Military Academy before Georgia Tech recruited him.[1]


In 1888, Captain Lyman Hall was appointed Georgia Tech's first mathematics professor (and consequently head of the school's mathematics department). He had a solid background in engineering due to his time at West Point and often incorporated surveying and other engineering applications into his coursework.[3] He had an energetic personality and quickly assumed a leadership position among the faculty.[1] At the first faculty meeting on October 5, 1888, he was elected secretary.[1] On June 25, 1895, Professor Hall was invited to speak to Georgia Tech's board about the school's needs. While there were no recorded minutes, subsequent board actions suggest that he recommended the construction of on-campus dormitories to reduce disciplinary problems, and a more proactive recruitment of students.[1]

Georgia Tech around 1900, with Tech Tower in the background

Previous president Isaac S. Hopkins tendered his resignation in May 1895 because he had been elected president of the First Methodist Church of Atlanta and he could not do "justice to both to the school and the church".[1] While several successors were considered, Samuel M. Inman proposed that the decision be postponed. Georgia Tech's trustees correspondingly elected Hall as the chairman of the faculty (acting president) From January 1, 1896 to July 1, 1896.[1] On June 24, the trustees elected him the institute's second president.[4]

The Lyman Hall Laboratory of Chemistry in 1913

As president, Hall was noted for his aggressive fundraising and improvements to the school, including his special project, the Aaron S. French Textile School.[5] In February 1899, Georgia Tech opened the first textile engineering school in the Southern United States,[6] with $10,000 from the Georgia General Assembly, $20,000 of donated machinery, and $13,500 from supporters.[7] It named the A. French Textile School, after its chief donor and supporter, Aaron S. French.

Lyman Hall's other goals included enlarging Tech and attracting more students, so he expanded the school's offerings beyond mechanical engineering; the new degrees introduced during Hall's administration included electrical engineering and civil engineering in December 1896, textile engineering in February 1899, and engineering chemistry in January 1901.[1][8] Hall also became infamous as a disciplinarian, even suspending the entire senior class of 1901 for returning from Christmas vacation a day late.[9]

Lyman Hall died on August 16, 1905 during a vacation at a New York health resort. His death while still in office was attributed to stress from his strenuous fund raising activities (this time, for a new Chemistry building).[1] Later that year, the school's trustees named the new chemistry building the "Lyman Hall Laboratory of Chemistry" in his honor.[1][10][11]

Lyman Hall building[edit]

The building's cornerstone, with the inscription "In the first place I would put accuracy."

Erected in 1905 and named in his honor, The Lyman Hall Laboratory of Chemistry at Georgia Tech is commonly referred to by students as "Lyman Hall" or simply "Lyman", due to the common mistaken impression that the word "Hall" is a mere descriptor.[11][12][13] It now houses the Bursar's Office after being completely gutted in 1988, but the quote from geologist Sir Archibald Geikie's 1905 published work remains on the front of the building: "In the first place I would put accuracy."[14]

The 1903 to 1906 school announcements describe the architecture of the building in great detail:[15]

The Lyman Hall Laboratory of Chemistry, which is in the shape of a T, is of brick with limestone trimmings, and is two stories in height, with a full basement. Each floor has an approximate area of 5,600 square feet. The lecture-rooms, stock-rooms, library, offices, gas analysis laboratory, photographic and spectroscopic rooms occupy the front, and the laboratories the rear wing. Especial care has been given to lighting and ventilation, the laboratories being lighted on three sides. For the removal of noxious gases, they are amply provided with hoods, each of which has a separate flue leading to a tight wooden fume-box loaced just under the roof. This box communicates with the outer air, and can be provided with forced draught if necessary. The Chemical and Physical laboratories have been fitted up with reference to practical work, and such addition will be made from time to time as may be required for experimental research. The apparatus and appliances are of the newest and best forms, and will be increased as occasion may demand.[15]

The building is located within the Georgia Institute of Technology Historic District, and it is included in the 12-building area listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k McMath, Robert C.; Ronald H. Bayor; James E. Brittain; Lawrence Foster; August W. Giebelhaus; Germaine M. Reed (1985). Engineering the New South: Georgia Tech 1885-1985. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0-8203-0784-X. 
  2. ^ "Inventory of the Lyman hall correspondence, 1896-1903 UA 309". Georgia Tech Archives and Records Management. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  3. ^ Cutter, H. D. (Spring 1998). An Early History of Georgia Tech. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  4. ^ Wallace, Robert (1969). Dress Her in WHITE and GOLD: A biography of Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech Foundation. 
  5. ^ "Biographies of the Early Presidents". Inventory of the Early Presidents Collection, 1879-1957 (bulk 1930-1950). Georgia Tech Archives & Records Management. Archived from the original on July 6, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  6. ^ ""Splendid Growth" - The Textile Educational Enterprise at Georgia Tech". Georgia Institute of Technology Library. Retrieved 2007-03-16. 
  7. ^ "Polymer, Textile and Fiber Engineering: History". Georgia Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on 2007-06-14. Retrieved 2007-05-28. 
  8. ^ "The Hall Administration, 1895-1905". "A Thousand Wheels are set in Motion" - The Building of Georgia Tech at the Turn of the 20th Century, 1888-1908. Georgia Tech Library and Information Center. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  9. ^ Edwards, Pat (1998-01-16). "Ramblins: Hall handed down stiff penalty for senior prank". The Technique. Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  10. ^ "Lyman Hall Chemistry Building". "A Thousand Wheels are set in Motion" - The Building of Georgia Tech at the Turn of the 20th Century, 1888-1908. Georgia Tech Library and Information Center. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  11. ^ a b "Lyman Hall". Campus Map. Georgia Tech Alumni Association. Retrieved 2007-03-26. 
  12. ^ "Lyman Hall Chemistry Building". Retrieved 2007-03-26. 
  13. ^ "Lyman Hall". Georgia Tech Facilities. Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  14. ^ Geikie, Archibald (1905). Landscape in History and Other Essays. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company. 
  15. ^ a b "Lyman Hall Laboratory of Chemistry". GT Buildings. Georgia Tech Library. Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  16. ^ "Lyman Hall Laboratory of Chemistry". Georgia Tech. Retrieved 2014-11-22.