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George H. Clark Building collection

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: RITArc-0032

Scope and Contents

The George H. Clark Building collection contains a variety of materials related to the building and its construction. The construction plans in the collection consist of floor plans, budgeting materials, and meeting minutes regarding the project's progress. There is also a square footage summary from several years after the building was completed.

The collection also includes correspondence. These items are on a variety of topics including the cornerstone ceremony, construction issues (e.g. proposed heating equipment), and the dedication ceremony. There are also formal invitations to the dedication ceremony housed with programs from the event.

In addition, the collection contains various publications with articles on the George H. Clark Building. Some of these publications include the Alumni Mirror, the Delta Sig (Delta Sigma Pi newsletter), and Along our Lines (Rochester Gas & Electric Company newsletter). Also included are clippings from various newspapers such as the Democrat & Chronicle and the Rochester Times-Union.

At the end of the collection are the materials that were encapsulated in the George H. Clark Building's cornerstone. These include administrative documents, university publications, Blazing New Trails (an institutional history), clippings, and two photographs.


  • Creation: 1945-1977
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1945 - 1947

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) played an active part in World War II by training individuals for jobs in wartime production. Faced with higher enrollment figures and an increasing presence in the field of technical training, RIT was quickly outgrowing its facilities following the war. On August 27, 1945, the Institute announced a $2.2 million post-war expansion project to address this concern. The focus of this project was a new building. Although it was estimated that the building would cost $700,000 to construct, an additional $520,000 was earmarked for the purchase of new equipment and the remodeling of existing facilities. The remaining $1 million was to be added to the university's endowment fund to help maintain the operating costs of the new structure. According to RIT's president, Mark Ellingson,

[The building] is our answer to the challenges of the future that promises a new world of science and industry. The contribution of technological education will be a major one and this undertaking proves we mean to meet our responsibility in full to the young people of Rochester, to its industries and to the Community (Democrat & Chronicle, 28 August 1945).

When the project was announced, the university had already collected more than $1.5 million, which allowed construction to begin almost immediately. The project was overseen by a committee that included Charles K. Flint (Eastman Kodak Company), W. Dewey Crittenden, and John D. Pike (John B. Pike & Sons); however, the work was executed by William A. Clark, an instructor in RIT's mechanical engineering department, and John B. Pike & Sons, a Rochester-based architectural firm. In order to accommodate the new structure that was to be built at the corner of Washington Street and Broad Street, the old powerhouse, gymnasium, photographic practice house, and student union (Clark Union) were demolished.

The Institute decided to name the new facility the George H. Clark Building in honor of its current treasurer and one of its largest benefactors. George Halford Clark (1860-1953) was born on October 14, 1860 to Brackett H. and Lucretia C. (née Bowker) Clark. After finishing school, Clark began working at his father's barrel stave manufacturing business, B. H. Clark & Son. The business eventually grew to include other areas as well, and became the Clark Paint, Oil & Gas Company. A savvy businessman, Clark was one of the original 14 stockholders in the Eastman Kodak Company. He also served as president of the Cochrane-Bly Company (machine tool manufacturer) and as Vice President of the Pulver Company (chewing gum and vending machine manufacturer). An active citizen in Rochester, he served on the Board of Directors for numerous organizations including the Rochester Button Company, Eastman Kodak Company, Genesee Valley Trust Company, Rochester Dental Dispensary, and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Clark believed very strongly in the mission of RIT (known for most of his life as the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics' Institute) and often gave his time and advice to the Institute. He was also one of the university's largest benefactors at the time. Clark died on September 26, 1953.

The cornerstone for the George H. Clark Building was laid on May 18, 1946, following the convocation exercises for that year. The ceremony was overseen by James E. Gleason, chairman of the Board of Trustees. Frank E. Gannett, founder of the Gannett media company, gave a speech on the "Significance of this Project" and Mark Ellingson, RIT's president, paid tribute to Clark. Clark then laid the cornerstone using the same silver trowel that George Eastman had used to lay the cornerstone for RIT's Eastman Building in 1900.

As the new dominant structure on RIT's campus, the George H. Clark Building was three stories plus a basement-level. It was also fireproof, being made primarily of concrete and brick. When the building was complete it housed three different departments, each of which was well equipped. The photographic department was given 48 separate darkrooms (24 for negative processing and 24 for printing), five color labs, a special purpose lab for sensitometry and photomicrography, and a make-up room for models, along with classrooms, equipment rooms, offices, and studios. The mechanical department was given an enlarged machine shop, a mechanical measuring room, and a plastics lab and had air conditioning and oil heating. Lastly, the publishing and printing departments had 14 linotype and intertype machines and 16 platen presses along with cylinder presses, offset presses, proof presses, typograph machines, and monotype casters and keyboards. RIT students now had access to some of the best equipment available in each industry.

The building was officially dedicated on June 9, 1947 in a ceremony that included another address by Frank E. Gannett. James E. Gleason and M. Herbert Eisenhart then gave tribute to Clark and the building was "transferred" from John D. Pike to the Institute. The George H. Clark Building served as the dominant building on RIT's campus until the Institute moved to a new campus outside of the city in 1968. By 1977, the building had been sold to the Rochester City School District who planned to renovate it for use as a central office.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 document box)




Materials related to the Rochester Institute of Technology's George H. Clark Building, built in 1946 and occupied by RIT until 1968. The collection contains numerous documents related to the building's construction, as well as correspondence and publications regarding the building itself. Also included are clippings and various items that were placed in the building's cornerstone.


The collection is divided into series, including Construction Plans, Meeting Minutes, Correspondence, Publications, Clippings, Programs and Invitations, and Miscellaneous. The materials that were housed in the building's cornerstone are separated from the rest of the items and are housed at the end of the collection.

Other Finding Aids

In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.

George H. Clark Building collection

Related Materials

Frederick Brehm's The Scroll of Time contains images of the George H. Clark Building's construction. Two copies of Brehm's work are available in the RIT Archive Collections (see RIT T171.R69 B73).

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Lara Nicosia in December 2010.

George H. Clark Building collection
RIT Archives
Lara Nicosia
02 December 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA