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Fullerton Auditorium

(The following is excerpted from Dr. C. G. Hopper, Jr's. book, Toward the Light: Photography and Limestone College, pp. 222-225) 

   

     The auditorium on campus was erected in honor of William Parnett Fullerton, 1888-1956, by his widow, Alma Hamrick Fullerton, who offered a challenge gift of $250,000 which was matched by friends of the college.1

     Mrs. Alma Hamrick Fullerton, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. W. C. Hamrick, was a native of South Carolina. She was born 9 October 1895 in Gaffney, where she later attended the public schools. In 1908, at the age of thirteen she became a student in the Music Department of Limestone College. Thereafter, she entered Brenau College at Gainesville, Georgia, where she graduated with a degree in Domestic Science. In 1916 she attended the Colonial School (Washington, D.C.), a "finishing school" where students attended classes in art, music, literature and history, as well as etiquette and world affairs.2

     During World War I, Miss Hamrick volunteered with several friends from Gaffney to work in a factory at Penamon, Virginia, which manufactured war supplies. When she returned home, she assisted with the evening classes attended by the cotton mill workers at Cherokee Avenue School.

     On 28 February 1924, she married W. B. Fullerton of New York. Her marriage was a social interest throughout the entire South since she was the daughter of one of the South's leading textile manufacturers and president of teh Hamrick chain of mills, and the groom was the son of Mr. and Mrs W. J. Fullerton, a prominent and distinguished family of Ridgewood, New Jersey. In addition, Fullerton was a junior partner of the firm of Wilson & Bradbury, one of the foremost cotton goods commission houses of New York and Philadelphia. The ceremony, which was held in the bride's paternal home at high noon, united two prominent families involved in the manufacture and sale of cotton goods. It was a private affair with only members of the two families being present. Dr. Robert C. Granberry, D.D., president of  Limestone College, performed the wedding ceremony. All was done with striking simplicity.3

     The Fullertons made Montclair, New Jersey, their first home; thereafter thay moved to Englewood, New Jersey, and later to Tenafly, New Jersey. In addition the Fullertons owned homes in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Biltmore Forest, North Carolina; and an apartment in New York City.4

     The Fullertons traveled extensively in the United States and in Europe. They were actively involved in many civic and charitable organizations.

     A challege gift of $250,000 from Mrs. Fullerton was announced 12 March 1962 at a dinner meeting in the college dining hall before the members of the student body, faculty, trustees, and approximately one hundred invited guests. In making the announcement, Paul Black, of Spartanburg, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, informed the assembly that the Alma Foundation, Inc. of Gaffney, had given the gift on the condition that the college raise an additional quarter-million in matching funds by the following first day of May. The trustees of the foundation, Mrs. W. B. Fullerton (the former Alma Hamrick, of Gaffney), Waite C. Hamrick, Sr., and John M. Hamrick, both of Gaffney, had challenged the college and its friends to raise the matching fund within a period of about two and one-half months. 5

     In accepting the challenge, Dr. A. J. Eastwood, president of the college, stated: "This is the largest single gift by one person or agency to Limestone in its entire 117-year history, and it will serve as a spring-board to an entirely new era for Limestone." Emphasizing that the gift from the Alma Foundation was on a matching basis, he said that Limestone would embark immediately on raising the additional $250,000.6

     Mr. Black announced to the gathering that the trustees of teh college had already approved a building program to erect a new 1,100-seat auditorium, a new library, and additional dormitory facilities which would house an additional sixty students. He said, "It is our intention to begin construction of the auditorium before July first of this year."7

     The Alma Foundation, donor of the quarter-million-dollar challenge gift, was founded under the guidance of the late W. B. Fullerton, in whose memory the gift was made. and for whom the new auditorium would be named. Although during the ten years the Alma Foundation had existed several small gifts had been distributed, this was the foundation's first major gift. 8

     The editor of The Gaffney Ledger stated that not only the college's official family, including administrative officers and faculty members, but the citizens of the community would be indebted to the Alma Foundation, Ins., which is an agency developed by the members of the family of the late Dr. W. C. Hamrick, one of the most successful textile executives. The editor observed that in offering this assistance, the Foundation was continuing the strong support which Dr. Hamrick gave Limestone during his lifetime. Not only did Dr. Hamrick give the generous gift-- Hamrick Hall of Science-- to the college, but in addition, gave of his accute business judgement to help solve the financial problems of the college. Furthermore, he served on the Board of Trustees as have his son Waite C. Hamrick, Sr., his two grandsons, Waite C. Hamrick, Jr., and John M. Hamrick; and his great-grandsons, Wiley C Hamrick and Charls Hamrick.9

     The editor went on to observe that Limestone College means much to Gaffney and Cherokee County. "Many, many places without facilities for higher education would give a great deal for such a school", he wrote. He stated emphatically, "Therefore, anyone who helps Limestone College helps Gaffney and Cherokee County," and concluded, "the Alma Foundation gift offers residents of the community an unparalleled opportunity to add to Limestone's worth to the area. If the challenge is met, the college will be made immeasurably more valuable. It will be place in a position to contribute even more to the educational and cultural needs of this section."10 The campaign to raise the matching funds began 12 march 1962.

     The successful matching of the challenge gift from the Alma Foundation was announced at a victory dinner at the college on 2 May 1962. Not only had teh challenge been met, but according to Paul Black, chairman of the Limestone Board of Trustees, gifts from alumnae and friends in twenty-two states exceeded the amount needed to match the grant. 11

     The building committee appointed by the trustees included John Hamrick, chairman, Claude B. Poole, Claude Littlejohn, and Paul Black, ex efficio member. 12

     Construction of the 1,100-seat auditorium changed the look of the campus of the College. The new building was set slightly behind the front line of the Winnie Davis School of History and at a slightly lower level, thereby reaining the natural slope of the land. Arraigning the buliding thus prevented the modern architechture of the auditorium form clashing with the modified Gothic form of the much older Winnie Davis School of History. Rather than take attention from the older building, the new auditorium enhanced its appearance.

     The dedication sevice held on Thursday, 5 March 1964, was opened by Dr. A. J. Eastwood, president of Limestone College; and Academic Dean, Dr. William J. Kimball gave the dedicatory lecture. John Hamrick in his remarks noted that the new building was another demonstration of the "faith" held in Limestone College. He then presented keys to the auditorium to Dr. Eastwood on behalf of the trustees.

     The trustees and the faculty of Limestone College held an open house tea on Sunday afternoon, the fifth of April, nineteen hundred and sixty-four, for invited guests to inspect the new auditorium and to celebrate having the magnificent new facility. Mrs. Fullerton and other members of the Hamrick family were guests of honor. The following month, Mrs. Fullerton was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in the graduation excersises of 1964.13 On 15 May 1968 Mrs. Fullerton received the honor of being the first person given the title of Honorary Lifetime Trustee of Limestone College. Mrs. Fullerton, daughter of Dr. Wylie C. Hamrick and sister of the late Waite C. Hamrick, Sr. and the late Lyman Hamrick, having continued the family tradition of serving on boards and committees of the college, was uniquely qualified for the honor. Shortly before, at a meeting of the Limestone Alumnae on 30 March 1968, she had been presented a plaque which read: "The Alumnae Association of Limestone College in recognition of the consideration and the generosity shown through the years for the progress and growth of her Alma Mater designates Alma Hamrick Fullerton A Distinguished Alumnae of Vision and a philanthropist and humanitarian."14

     Mrs. Fullerton was also an energetic supporter of other institutions. For example, she gave a million-dollar challenge gift late in 1966 to the Memorial Mission Hospital of Asheville, North Carolina, to erect a wing to the hospital in her husband's name. When finished in April 1971, the two-and-a-half-million-dollar ultra-modern medical facilitiy was hailed as a milestone for Western North Carolina.15

     On 20 September 1980, Alma Hamrick Fullerton died. Her services were held at All Souls Episcopal Church in Ashville, NC. 16



 

 

  1. The Spartanburg Herald, March 14, 1962; The Gaffney Ledger, March 15, 1962.
  2. The Gaffney Ledger,February 28, 1924.
  3. The Gaffney Ledger,February 28, 1924.
  4. Personal correspondence to author from Mrs. Volina C. Valentine, Asheville, North Carolina, October 3, 1996.
  5. The Gaffney Ledger, March 15, 1962; The Gaffney Ledger, Editorial, March 15, 1962.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Undated clipping from The Asheville Citizen.
  9. The Gaffney Ledger, Editorial, March 15, 1962.
  10. The Gaffney Ledger, March 15, 1962.
  11. The Gaffney Ledger, March 6, 1964.
  12. Ibid.
  13. McMillan, Montague, A History of Limestone College 1845-1970. (Gaffney, South Carolina: Limestone College, 1970), 384.
  14. A personal note from Volina C. Valentine in the private collection fo the author.
  15. The Asheville Citizen, December 13, 1966; April 1 1971.
  16. The Gaffney Ledger, September 22, 1980; The Asheville Citizen, September 20, 1980