Located at the geographic center of Gardner-Webb University, is the oldest building on campus, according to the National Register of Historic Places.
Launch Hamrick Hall
While the building has served many purposes over its almost 100 year existence, it currently houses the Graduate and Undergraduate programs of the Godbold College of Business. In it are all of the classrooms as well as the offices for the faculty. Additionally, Hamrick Hall is home to Blanton Auditorium, a 300-seat venue designed for various types of events including recitals, and academic lectures. Also found in the building is the Tucker Library, a library that houses literature specific to the business school and also provides place for students to study.
The school had only 272 students when the hall was completed in 1925. Originally called the Memorial Building, the hall was intended as a memorial to the soldiers and sailors from the Kings Mountain and Sandy Run Baptist associations who served in World War I, especially three former students of the school who were killed during the war (1914-1918). The three who had been students at Boiling Springs High School, now GWU, were Ira Alberto Crabtree, William Norwood Huggins and Copher Meade Ewing.
As high school enrollment decreased because of the competition from public high school, the denominational school became a junior college in 1928. The school was plagued by financial problems throughout its early days, particularly in the Great Depression, but survived, largely through the generosity of patrons like Elijah Bly (E.B.) Hamrick.
According to Lansford Jolley in “Dreaming, Daring, Doing … The Story of Gardner-Webb University” and Frances B. Dedmond in “Lengthened Shadows: A History of Gardner-Web College, 1907-1956, the financially-troubled school would probably have closed in the 1930s had it not been for E.B. Hamrick.
Dedmond explains that Hamrick on one occasion marked $1,400 off his books – the amount that the college owed him. For almost one year he fed the student body free of charge. E.B. Hamrick was the son of Charles Jefferson Hamrick, who started working the land and then opened a general store in 1875 in Boiling Springs to serve the people of the rural western part of the county.
Administrators of the school often went to E.B. Hamrick for financial help, encouragement and advice. In 1909, E.B. Hamrick became the first financial administrator of the school. He served as a trustee for more than four decades and gave land for the development of the campus. He also served on numerous committees of the school as did his son, Clifford (C.E.) Hamrick, and other members of the E.B. Hamrick family.
The school’s 1937 yearbook was dedicated to E.B. Hamrick – “So to you, Mr. Hamrick, whose life has been vital for 30 years to the ongoing of Boiling Springs College as a Trustee, and friend, we dedicate this volume. We honor you for your Christian manhood and brotherhood, for your unselfish devotion to a larger life of the world about you.”
The hall was partially gutted by fire in 1937, but was rebuilt and in 1943, the Gardner-Webb Board of Trustees voted to name the building E.B. Hamrick Memorial Hall in honor of Hamrick. He was a local merchant, who gave financial help, encouragement and advice to Gardner-Webb officials through the years. He was the college’s first financial administrator, served as a trustee and gave land for the development of campus. He also served on numerous committees of the school.
According to an entry by Eli Hardin in “Clio: Your Guide to History,” the building suffered another fire in 1981 that once again damaged the interior of the building. In 1982, Hamrick Hall gained status on the list of the National Register of Historic Places. For the next 15 years, the building had limited usage until a capital campaign assisted in a complete restoration and renovation of all three stories. It was reopened in 1998 and became home to the Business school.
During a service on May 28, 2021, E.B. Hamrick Memorial Hall was rededicated to honor the memory of the three men recognized in 1925 along with Lt. Col. William Barkley Jr., class of 1975, who died while test flying a helicopter near the Marine Corps Air Station, Quantico, Va., on May 19, 1993; and US Army Green Beret, Staff Sgt. Jerry Gass, class of 2003, a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., He passed away on Aug. 3, 2014, following a non-combat incident while on patrol, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.