Located on the site of what is now the 1964 addition to Hesler Biology Building, a small workshop built in 1886 was replaced on the same site in 1888 with a large Mechanical Building. The building was 80 feet by 80 feet on the outside with a one-story 30-foot by 50-foot annex and a 16-foot by 11.5-foot tower at one corner. Electricity for the campus was generated in the building, engineering students were taught there, and it was also used for science instruction before the 1892 completion of Science Hall. When the new Mechanical Building (Estabrook Hall) was built in 1898, the Mechanical Building, renamed Reese Hall in honor of former UT President William B. Reese, was remodeled at a cost of $3,177 as a dormitory for 30 men. It served as a dormitory for 22 years.
In 1920 the entire building was allocated for use by the UT Military Department. In 1938, following the 1937 move of the Military Department to space in Neyland Stadium built for it, Reese Hall, condemned several times as a fire hazard, was razed.