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A. French Textile Building Specifications

Identifier: MS343

  • Staff Only


The A. French Textile Building Specifications contains detailed information regarding materials and labor to be used during the 1898-1899 construction of the A. French Textile Building on the Georgia Tech campus.


  • 26 October 1898


General Physical Description note

(one archival folder)

Restrictions: Access


Restrictions: Use

Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.


0.1 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The A. French Textile Building Specifications contains detailed information regarding materials and labor to be used during the 1898-1899 construction of the A. French Textile Building on the Georgia Tech campus. The specifications, drawn up by Lockwood Greene and Company, give detailed information about expectations and responsibilities for every facet of construction from excavation to painting interior walls. There are a total of 37 pages of specifications--36 pages are the original specifications, the final page contains specification modifications along with signatures. The front and back covers are original; all other pages are carbon copies. All of the pages were laminated at some point in time.

All pages of the specifications are digitized and available through the digital collection " 'Splendid Growth' Architectural Drawings of the A. French Textile Building"

History of the A. French Textile Building

In the late 1890s the textile industry in Georgia and South Carolina was growing rapidly and Georgia Tech President Lyman Hall believed the time was right for Tech to establish a textile engineering program. Hall led the effort to raise funds using a three-pronged approach: the use of New South rhetoric, conditional gifts from philanthropists, and conditional appropriations by the State legislature. President Hall obtained substantial donations from his acquaintance Aaron French, a Pittsburgh manufacturer. Hall also successfully persuaded the Georgia Legislature to fund the school pending receipt of private donations. In 1897 the Legislature appropriated $10,000 to establish a Textile Department; the appropriation was to be released only when "ten thousand dollars, in money or equipment, is donated by private individuals or others."

Oscar Elsas, a Tech alumnus and vice president of the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill, persuaded textile firms in the North to donate state-of-the-art machinery later valued at $20,000. The wide variety of equipment available to the students would enable them to operate all kinds of textile machinery anywhere they might go and would make them attractive candidates for positions as textile mill operators and managers.

When the prospect of sufficient funds was evident, Lyman Hall approached officials of the Lowell (Massachusetts) Textile School for assistance in designing the Textile Department. C. P. Brooks, head of the Lowell School, provided advice regarding the design of the building, equipment, and curriculum for the new department. With the required funds and the promise of machinery secured, the State of Georgia released its appropriation in the summer of 1898. Construction began soon and proceeded very quickly; the building was completed the same year. The brand new A. French Textile School opened its doors for instruction in February 1899.

Named in honor of the chief donor, Aaron French, the building was designed by the Massachusetts architectural firm of Lockwood Greene. It was considered a very modern cotton mill, embodying "the very latest ideas of mill construction." The three story brick structure measured 150 feet by 70 feet. There was an elevator in the Receiving Room in the basement so machinery and supplies could easily be lifted to the upper floors. The main entrance, on the south side, was set slightly to one side, with eight windows to the left (west) and six windows to the right (east). Many large windows on all sides of the building and in all three stories allowed plenty of daylight to enter the building. A skylight over the main staircase provided additional light for the departments on the top floor. Power for the many machines throughout the mill was provided by an eighty horsepower Corliss steam engine in the basement.

The A. French Building was home to Textile Engineering at Georgia Tech until the completion of the Harrison Hightower Textile Engineering Building in 1949. [Abstracted from "Splendid Growth": The Textile Educational Enterprise at Georgia Tech written by Marilyn Williamson. This article, along with additional information on the building, architects, and Aaron French, can be found at]

Other Finding Aids

A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.


Accession #1994.1201.

Other Formats Available

All drawings and the written specifications are available online at

Separated Material

The architectural drawings for the A. French Textile Building are processed separately as VAMD343.

General Physical Description note

(one archival folder)

Processing Information

Mandi D. Johnson processed these papers in June 2008.

Inventory of the A. French Textile Building Specifications, 26 October 1898
Mandi D. Johnson
Copyright June 2008.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology Repository

Georgia Institute of Technology
266 4th Street, NW
Atlanta 30332-0900 USA