July 18 , 2001
As The Citadel family prepares for the August arrival of more than 600 freshmen and more than 1,200 returning upperclassmen, work crews continue to knock down the signature building on campus.
Padgett-Thomas Barracks is being torn down to make way for a new barracks. Two months after the demolition work began, more than half the building is gone.
What once was the quad now looks like a war zone. Brick, concrete and wood litter the familiar red and white checkerboard floor. By mid August, a Citadel icon for 79 years will be no more.
Once state funding is secured, construction will begin on a $27 million building to replace the original PT barracks. In the meantime, grass will be planted on the site.
"This structure, which is so familiar within The Citadel family, is about to come down. It's both a sad day and a happy day," Citadel President Maj. Gen. John S. Grinalds told reporters and a few dozen summer school students who gathered May 24 to watch the start of the demolition. "We're glad to see the old PT go only because we know a new PT is coming."
The new barracks will be safer for students, and in hurricanes, will meet building codes and last for 100 years, Grinalds said.
Padgett-Thomas Barracks was built in 1922. It was the first building constructed on the banks of the Ashley River after The Citadel moved from its original location on Marion Square in downtown Charleston. PT Barracks, the largest of five barracks on campus, became the pattern for all future construction on campus and is the building most often associated with the military college.
Before it closed in August 2000, Padgett-Thomas Barracks housed up to 562 men and women assigned to the regimental staff, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf and Hotel companies and the Regimental Band. Some former residents included Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., '64; Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Emory Mace, '63; and University of South Carolina President John Palms, '58.
PT Barracks was closed because of its significant structural problems. Despite extensive renovations, The Citadel believes there is no way to fully restore the barracks and still meet all safety and building codes mandated by the state.
The new building will be slightly larger than the existing barracks to meet international building codes, but it will look virtually the same as the building at the center of campus now.
The Citadel has been promised $11 million in state funding so far. Another $16 million is needed before construction can begin.
The new Padgett-Thomas Barracks is tentatively slated to open for the 2004 academic year.