is the fourth oldest building at the University of Georgia and was
placed on the National Register for Historic Places in 1971. Constructed
in 1824 by Dr. James Tinsley of Columbia County, Demosthenian Hall
has become the physical expression of a living tradition which binds
generations of students. The Society's minutes show that by September
5, 1829, the building's $4,000 construction cost had been completely
paid off. The construction was financed by the Society's members,
alumni, and friends.
Located on the University of Georgia's historic north quadrangle,
its facade in the formal Federal style forms a pleasing contrast
to the later columned Greek revival structures which surround it.
The front is graced with a palladian window over a light doorway.
The exterior walls are two feet thick and are of stucco over brick
The upper chamber is the meeting room of the Society. The speaker's
desk has been dated to the 1820's and may have been built for the
Hall. The stump beneath the lectern is stood upon by members seeking
office in the Society and was cut from the trunk of the Toombs'
While a student at the University, Robert Toombs managed to break
most of the rules. Finally, in exasperation, University officials
expelled him in 1828 several months prior to graduation. While commencement
exercises were underway in the Chapel, he began to hold forth in
true Demosthenian fashion under an oak tree located in front of
the Chapel. He spoke with such fire and enthusiasm that he succeeded
in emptying the Chapel. Legend says the tree was struck by lightning
the day Robert Toombs passed away.
The simplicity of the carved mantels, window moldings, doors and
deep paneled wainscoting emphasizes the drama of the ornate plasterwork
ceiling medallion which is based on a template designed by Asher
Benjamin. It is a medallion of holly leaves surrounded by swags
of smaller leaves which are framed by a delicate filigree. This
ceiling is one of the most architecturally significant structures
at the University of Georgia and is one of the few remaining examples
of this form of decorative artwork.
In 1997, Demosthenian Hall received a $200,000 facelift. Financed
primarily by alumni donations and conducted by the architectural
firm Serber and Barber, the construction work restored the ceiling
medallion and the rest of the Upper Chamber to its original 1824
layout and color scheme. The original hard wood floors were uncovered
and restored in the Lower Chamber.
Demosthenian Hall Pictures