Two aerial views from 1947-48

April 1948

I had a comment on yesterday’s post about crops being planted on campus. It reminded me of these two pictures, which I recently scanned to use as illustrations of the explosive growth on campus in the wake of the Second World War. As I’m sure you know, the Chemistry Building was complete in 1925 and Cohen House was built in 1927. That was the end of construction for a very long time. The financial conservatism of the Rice trustees put a hold on building, then the Depression came, followed by war.

But during the war Rice’s financial position improved with the acquisition of a part interest in the Rincon oil field in south Texas and a large bequest from the estate of trustee Will Rice, who died in 1944. This income enabled the building boom that took place in the late 1940s and early 1950s. You can see a big piece of this expansion in these pictures: Anderson Hall is just about finished and Fondren Library and Abercrombie Hall are in the middle of construction. The President’s House, the new gym and stadium, and Wiess College were all built in this era as well. This was really a huge change in Rice’s physical environment.

December 1947

Now check out something else: If you zoom in on the top photo, there are two areas that are clearly under cultivation. One is to the right of the parking lot between Abercrombie and the Physics Building, where the North Colleges are today. The other is just behind the left side of Chemistry Building. This picture was taken in April. Now look at the bottom picture, which was taken in very early December. I’m not completely sure what to make of this, but it looks like hay that’s been cut and raked but not yet baled. But that’s really just a guess. Any thoughts?

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2 Responses to Two aerial views from 1947-48

  1. Keith Cooper says:

    Melissa –

    Another interesting thing to note in the two aerial shots of campus is the layout of the quad. When I arrived at Rice in 1974, the hedges formed small pseudo-mazes — spirals and so on. The current design is much simpler. It was probably driven by the decision to move Commencement to its current location (coupled with the declining state of the hedges themselves in the early 1980s.)

    The pattern in these photos shows something completely different. Before Fondren, there was no need to walk down the center of the quad. In fact, the central axis appears to run from the Mechanical lab out through the gates of what is now entrance three. The axis defined by the Sallyport, Fondren, and Alice Pratt Brown Hall’s lobbies is completely unexpressed in the landscaping.

    Hmmm. The place changes more than we ever realize.

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