The Barnes Center began as the Clemson College Experimental Barn or ‘Sheep Barn.’ The barn is the oldest surviving and relatively intact structure associated with the original Clemson College Agricultural Department and was built in approximately 1904.
The barn was extremely significant from 1904 to 1940 when it was used for agricultural exploration and experimentation. During this time, livestock practices were changing in order to prevent diseases, improve hygiene, and to increase productivity. The barn was created in order to support these goals as an agricultural education facility that investigated scientific problems that directly affected the advancement of agriculture.
The barn began by researching the handling and care of cows, but became retrofitted to research sheep. As recently as 1935, the barn was used for hands on class instruction including determining wool quality and sheep judging. Some of the equipment remained intact within the structure until construction on The Barnes Center began. The barn was listed in The James Way Plan Book as a research participant. In 1940, the agricultural operations ceased and then the barn has been used for storage. On January 4, 1990, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its significance.
In 2014, the Barnes Family gave a gift to Clemson University and the Sheep Barn became the Barnes Center. The Barnes Center will be the social destination of campus where students can come make friends, relax, and attend late night programming every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night.
Frank S. Barnes Jr. is a Clemson Legacy who dedicated his life to the betterment of the Clemson University community. Frank served as a member of Clemson’s Board of Visitors and the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors. Frank was honored by the Clemson Alumni Association with its Distinguished Service Award and by the University with the President’s Award. In 1997, Frank was awarded the Clemson Medallion which is the highest public honor that Clemson can bestow on an individual. As an alumnus, Frank set an example for how to be an engaged and successful Clemson Tiger.
In addition to his commitment to Clemson, Frank committed his professional life to Comporium, Inc. (nee, Rock Hill Telephone Company), which was purchased by his grandparents in 1912. In 1968 Frank became president of the company. He served as president of the company until 2002 when he stepped down as president and remained chairman of the board and the chief executive officer of the company.
The Barnes family established three endowments for Clemson University’s College of Engineering and Science, which created the Frank Barnes Sr. Telecommunications Laboratory. The Barnes’s family gift enabled the development of the Barnes Center, which will be the social destination for the Clemson University campus.