Behind the building: Farrington

In 1959, students at SHSU walked the halls of the newly constructed Farrington Building with determination to change the world through science. The Soviet Union launched the Sputnik Satellite into Earth’s orbit in 1957. “It brought an influx of students in science at that time,” said Dr. Ricky White, department chair of chemistry. The Cold War had a powerful constructive impact on American science. The National Defense Education Act, passed in 1958 in the wake of Sputnik, federally supported institutions. Author Garret Moritz said American self-confidence, as a scientific superpower, was a critical issue throughout the Cold War.As a result of the launch of Sputnik, massive federal support poured into the science effort, increasing spending on science education.SHSU constructed the Farrington Building as a result of that federal support.Claude Bolin Farrington, a professor of chemistry at SHSU, taught on the first floor of the Administration Building, where the Registrar office is currently located. The entire chemistry department, including labs, lectures and offices, was located on the first floor. University President Harmon Lowman’s office was on the second floor, directly above one of the labs. The third floor housed the physics department.Farrington was born Feb. 15, 1873, near Huntsville. He finished eighth grade at Huntsville Public School at the age of 13 and worked for three years in mercantile waiting for additional grades to be added to the city school. Farrington completed Huntsville High School in 1891 and Sam Houston Normal Institute in 1893. He taught for two years in Shelby County before attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he received a bachelor of science degree in 1897. He married Gladys Busby a year later.In September 1901, Farrington became a member of the faculty of Sam Houston Normal Institute. The faculty at that time numbered 17.Farrington also received a degree of master of arts from Southwestern University in 1937 and was a member of the Texas Academy of Science.He was a life-long member of the Methodist Church, where he taught Sunday School for college students for 35 years.Farrington was a member of Huntsville-Walker County Chamber of Commerce and a director during the first ten years of his membership. He also served by active participation in building highways in Walker and adjoining counties.Farrington’s daughter married into the Gibbs’ family. The Gibbs contributed $400,000 for the chair, White said. It was made into a revolving chair to be used for each faculty member’s research or professional things. “The marriage was good news for (the chemistry department),” White said.At the time of construction in 1959, the Farrington Building cost $2,488,139 to build. The same contractor built the Farrington Building and the Evans Building that year.The building is currently in bad condition and the two-story section is scheduled to be rebuilt, according to Facilities Planning. Last semester, an approval was given for an $18 million renovation and addition to the Farrington Building.

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