Holtzendorff Hall was the original YMCA building at Clemson. The building was the first on the campus financed by private donations, most of which was a gift from John D. Rockefeller. It was designed by Rudolph E. Lee, a member of the first graduating class at Clemson (1896) and the dean of the Department of Architecture at the time the building was constructed (1916). Samuel Broadus Earle designed the lighting, heating and plumbing. Total cost of the building, furnished, was $78,000, of which the Rockefeller contribution was $50,000; the Board of Trustees providing $15,000; and faculty, alumni, students, and friends, raising $10,000. The final $3,000 was paid by contributions after completion of the building. It is named for Preston B. Holtzendorff, Jr. (known as "Mr. Holtzy") who arrived as assistant secretary of the "Y" in 1916 and soon became general secretary. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The newly completed Y. M. C. A. Building opened for the first time on Friday, January 7, 1916. "There were no formal exercises. It had been previously announced that the doors would be opened at four-thirty that afternoon. At the appointed time quite a crowd had gathered. They were met and shown over the building by a reception committee selected from the cadet members of the association. The members of this committee wore simple badges on which was written the word "welcome ". The visitors were shown the main lobby, the reading rooms, ladies' and men's lounging rooms, secret society room, literary society room, auditorium, moving picture booth, bath rooms, swimming pool, bowling alley, fountain and store, cafeteria, kitchen, gymnasium, publication rooms, and cabinet room, and other interesting features of the building. Special music was rendered during this tour. The building is a magnificent four-story structure, built at a cost of $75,000,000." (The Tiger, Tuesday 16 January 1916, Volume XI, Number 13, page 1.)
Holtzendorff is predominantly an office facility for faculty and staff. The General Engineering Department of the College of Engineering and Science occupies 39 percent of the space, the History and Philosophy and Religion departments 32 percent, Student Affairs 27 percent, Aerospace Studies 2 percent, and the University Facilities Landscape Services Department less than 1 percent.
On the Mell Hall side of the building is the old sun deck and indoor swimming pool, neither of which has been used in years. The pool was drained long ago and is currently used for storage. The glass-block windows, seen from the outside, are on the second story of the pool area. Around the pool area are old locker rooms, showers, a steam room, and tanning room. These areas, like the pool, are used for General Engineering storage. There are plans (as of 2005) to reclaim the pool area for classroom use.
Swimming pool scenes with Burt Lancaster and Catherine Bach in The Midnight Man were filmed in the Holtzendorff pool. During the 1980s, when the Clemson University bands were quartered in the basement of the Y, male band members used the old pool locker room space as a dressing area.
A university-hosted barber shop was located in the basement until 1975. After the end of cadet haircuts, the business diminished until it was no longer sustainable. It was used as the music library for the university bands until they moved to the new Brooks Center facility. It now serves as the office of the Clemson Engineering And Science General Engineering Lab supervisor.
The former gymnasium on the ground floor served as the music department's bandroom from 1977 until the Brooks Center opened. Now it is the Design Project Lab. The former wardrobe room for Tiger Band now serves as the National Science Foundation-sponsored Expert Laboratory Experimental Engineering in Real Time.
The sub-basement, currently used by the Air Rifle Club, was originally a bowling alley and, after that, a coffeehouse known as The Gutter.
In the early years (through the 1920s) there was a "Y" Cafeteria in the basement which advertised in The Tiger that they served "Pure Food Cooked And Served Under Sanitary Conditions." (The Tiger, March 30, 1921, Volume XVI, Number 22, page 3.)
Holtzendorff in popular culture
Scenes with character actor Charles Tyner in the 1974 The Midnight Man as the creepy janitor whom the sheriff initially tries to blame for a coed's murder were filmed in the future director's office for Tiger Band. The scene in which the future Daisy Duke, Catherine Bach, in her first screen appearance, tells Burt Lancaster's character of Jim Slade to "fuck off" while flipping him the bird were filmed in the Holtzendorff pool area.