Ayres Hall Completed
Ayres Hall, a four-story brick and limestone structure completed on the summit of the Hill in 1921, is UT’s most recognized academic building. It took the place of West College, Old College, and East College, which had served as the university’s principal buildings for more than a century. Ayres Hall is named for UT’s 12th president, Brown Ayres, who helped plan its construction using UT’s first $1 million appropriation from the state of Tennessee. The construction project still lacked funds, however, and some elements of the original design such as the clock faces on the bell tower, a plaza on the north side of the building, and a wing on the southeast side of the building were omitted. In 1950, Chi Omega Sorority gave UT the first set of Westminster Chimes to sound from the bell tower in honor of their 50th anniversary on campus. The chimes ceased to function in 1980, and the components were stolen in 1982. The Class of 1991 replaced the chimes as their senior gift. Although an elevator was installed in 1983 and a few other alterations were made to Ayres Hall, the building gradually deteriorated. Eventually the fourth floor was closed due to safety concerns. In 2008, Ayres Hall closed for a $23 million renovation project. The building reopened in 2010 with a north-side plaza, clock faces on the bell tower, updated flooring and fixtures, new energy efficient windows and lights, a new HVAC system, and additional elevators. The renovation maintained the original grandeur of the building and preserved many original construction materials. It also enhanced the building’s energy efficiency, resulting in a LEED Silver certification by the US Green Building Council. Ayres Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. The checkerboard pattern on Ayres Hall has inspired many other UT checkerboard designs.