Carnegie Mellon University

1942 image of Porter Hall from Frew St

September 28, 2021

70th Anniversary of Porter Hall

September 2021 marks the 70th anniversary of the naming of the building in which the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has been located in since December 1949, when the department moved from Engineering Hall (now Doherty Hall) to part of Industries Hall (now Porter Hall). 

As reported in the May 1950 annual report for the Department of Civil Engineering by Professor and Head Frederick Mavis, planning for reconfiguration of the space in Industries Hall was carried out over several years preceding the move by Professors Elio D’Appolonia, Fred Evans, John W. Graham, Jr., Louis Laushey, and Charles F. Peck, Jr. 

Industries Hall was the first building erected for the Carnegie Technical Schools, and was the primary base of operations when the institution opened in 1905. For the first two academic years, all four schools (Fine Arts, Industries, Engineering, and the Women’s School) were housed in Industries Hall. When the rest of the originally planned campus buildings were completed, and with an increase in enrollments and securing of accreditation, the institution was renamed the Carnegie Institute of Technology (Carnegie Tech) in 1912.

In the year prior to the 1949 move of Civil Engineering to Industries Hall, the large high-bay open space in the west end of the building was subdivided into three floors. A pump room, sump, and large testing flume were installed in the lower levels for hydraulics education and research. Separate laboratories for concrete, soils, and materials testing were constructed. A metal shop and wood shop were also part of the facilities in the lower levels of the building. The new upper floors included classrooms, offices, instrument rooms, project work/collaboration spaces, and “computing rooms.” 

The west end of Industries Hall was renamed Porter Hall in September 1951. President John C. (Jake) Warner announced the re-naming in the September 1951 issue of the Faculty Bulletin. 

“In 1940, C.I.T. received a bequest under the will of Augusta F. Porter, widow of John L. Porter, a former Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, for the erection of a building or the renovation of an existing building, to be named Porter Hall. By the action of the Executive Committee on May 28, 1951, this bequest was allocated to the renovation of the west end of Industries Hall, and this part of the building was renamed ‘Porter Hall.’ Porter Hall includes all the west end of the building and the connecting corridor, which ends at Room 125 (Room 227 on the second floor). All the rest of the building east of this corridor has been renamed ‘Administration Hall’. The name ‘Industries Hall’ has thus been discontinued.” Administration Hall was renamed Baker Hall in 1960.

john-l-porter-cropped.pngJohn L. Porter (1868-1937) was a member and then chair of the Carnegie Institute of Technology Board of Trustees for 16 years. Mr. Porter had an interesting career in the oil industry of Western Pennsylvania, and its connections in London, as explained in an account of his life and career in a fraternity publication from November 1937.

More information about the history of the College of Engineering.