The President’s House: Update

Mrs. Pitzer must have enjoyed the ironwork too. She left several nice photos of it in the Woodson, probably from the mid-1960s.

After yesterday’s post about the ironwork at the President’s House, I learned quite a bit more about this topic. Which is kind of surprising, when you think about it. I mean, how much could there be to know about this?

First thing this morning, I got an email from Ann Peterson, head of Alumni Affairs, which is now housed in this building. She told me something I found both heartening and extremely surprising:

“What’s interesting about the back addition is that the iron work wasn’t removed; I think it was simply enclosed.  I can’t speak for the vertical pieces, like the one President Houston is photographed with, but during the most recent renovation last fall, I went over during some of the work when the interior ceilings were exposed.  You could see the horizontal ironwork plain as day.  It’s still beautiful.  I had hoped to take a picture, but didn’t have my camera and didn’t make it back over to the house before it was enclosed again in the current renovation.

The ironwork out front is clearly gone.  In comparing the photo with the current porch, the design is not such that it could be enclosed.  Wonder where it went?”

I have no idea where it went, but there’s a reasonable chance it’s still sitting around somewhere. If anybody knows, or thinks they might have an idea, give me a shout.

Then this afternoon John Gladu, better known in these parts as “Grungy,” came over to the Woodson with another surprise. Drawings from a landscape renovation at the house in 1965 (this seems to be when the pool was installed) had recently bubbled up to the surface of his Rice memorabilia collection, and they included a nice sketch of the ornamental ironwork.

This inspired me to look around a little in the Woodson and see what else I could turn up. There were a couple of interesting things. Here’s a sequence showing the installation of the iron work, starting in April, 1949 and ending in June:


And finally, here’s a kind of ironic picture. This is Mrs. Hackerman in 1970, meeting in the President’s House with the architects who would cover up the metal work:

Bonus Picture: This is Grungy. He had just been to the eye doctor. We’re very grateful that he came over and brought us the drawings.

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