Estabrook Hall, named for the fifth president of the institution, Dr. Joseph Estabrook, opened for mechanical engineering classes and as the mechanical building of the university in fall 1898. It was dedicated April 3, 1899, at a ceremony held in Science Hall as part of University Day activities. The principal speaker at the dedication was Professor of Greek and History George F. Mellen, who detailed the life and accomplishments of Joseph Estabrook. At the dedication, Estabrook’s brother-in-law, Perez Dickinson, presented the university with a portrait of Estabrook that was painted by Lloyd Branson.
Plans for the building were prepared by Leon Beaver, architect, under the direction of J. R. McColl, professor of mechanical engineering. The general contract was given to Cooley Brothers of Knoxville. To build the facility, which extended 120 feet by 105 feet across the hillside, the trustees had to borrow the construction cost of $12,190. A boiler and dynamo to produce electricity cost an additional $5,120 and were placed in a one-story annex to the main building. A. B. Reynders, an 1875 graduate, designed the distribution system to replace campus gaslights with electricity.
Eight additions have been made to Estabrook, bringing it to a total square footage of 57,292. The plans for its first (1906) addition, which doubled the size of the building, were drawn by Engineering Professor (later, Dean) Charles Ferris, who also supervised the construction of the addition. Contractor for the addition was Thomas and Turner Builders. The forge and foundry were located in a one-story annex to the structure. A 30-foot addition to the forge shop was made in 1907. A new addition was completed in 1918, and new machinery was added both to the pattern shop and the machine shop. In 1921 an annex was built to the boiler room to hold a 175 horsepower boiler, which was needed to heat Ayres Hall. That addition brought the horsepower in the boiler plant to 350. New steam lines were laid from Estabrook to Hill buildings at the same time.
The master clock of the university was in Estabrook (under the direction of Professor Red Matthews). On March 5, 1926, the first three blasts of the chime whistle, donated by the class of 1925, rang out and replaced the former bells in sounding at the beginning of each class period.
The upper floor and the roof of the building were damaged in spring 1952 by a fire that started in one of the storerooms on the top floor. The damage was quickly repaired.