The (old) Physics Building is nearly empty

It's on the wall between the two chalkboards.

With the completion of the new physics building (Brockman Hall), the old one is close to empty until its new occupants move in later this summer after some renovations. I’ve taken this opportunity to look around in there a little bit and take some pictures. (By the way, C.W. McCullagh is the winner of the first Campus Quiz, correctly identifying the location of the chalk holder as the Physics Auditorium. No prize, CW, just respect.)

One of the things we tend to forget (or at least I do), is that the first biology lab was in this building. I was reminded of it when I came across a pile of old stools way down in the basement.

Sadly, I immediately knew where I had seen these stools before. Here’s a picture of the biology lab in about 1954–I can’t tell you how badly I wish I could get my hands on some of those horrifying things in the cases!


I totally get the heebie-jeebies looking at this stuff. If you'd really like to get disgusted, come in to the Woodson and ask to see the original of this picture. This is why I focused on the stools.

Just in case you doubt me, here’s a close up of one of the stools that I liberated from the basement and brought to the Woodson where it will live safely and comfortably for the rest of its days. Note the gentle curve at the bottom of the legs:


You can get up close in all these photos by clicking on them, then clicking again to zoom.

I’ll post more about this building when I can. There’s quite a bit of interest in there.

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13 Responses to The (old) Physics Building is nearly empty

  1. Kathy says:

    The Physics Building was one of my favorites when I was there 1967-71. So many neat nooks and crannies!

  2. James Medford says:

    One of my iconic memories of freshman year is taking Physics 101 in the amphitheater, with Dr. Dunning frantically sliding the chalkboards up and down and coating himself in chalk dust.

    Any idea as to who will be moving into the building? Like many alumni, I suspect I’ll always call it the Physics Building.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      The social science departments in the Baker Institute are coming over, I think. All this moving around is very good for us in the archives. Things bubble up.

  3. Bill says:

    And who is the James Dean look alike in the bio lab? 🙂

    • Melissa Kean says:

      No idea. It’s hard to pull your eyes off him, though, isn’t it?

      • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT says:

        The people in the biology circle look familiar; they may have been of the Class of 1956.
        Girl directly ahead in the corner looks much like Ann SPEARS HUDSON.
        Girl on left end might be Joan POOLE.
        I can’t put a name on the male though.

  4. Keith Tipton says:

    I’ve heard the new physics building has some serious flaws related to teaching physics (no lec hall, noplace to store all the demo equipment, etc.). Care to address that?

  5. Keith Tipton says:

    And, I’d buy some of the old chairs if they’re doomed to extinction.

  6. Greg Good says:

    I am really glad to see that Melissa Kean of the Rice History Center saved that stool! That looks like a local product by master woodworker. Were you also able to save anything related to historical figures who taught and researched in the department? Rice has had some important people on the faculty over the years.

    The AIP History Center is here to help if you need a sounding board. Thanks, Greg Good, Director.

  7. Pingback: “Ask, and it shall be given you” | Rice History Corner

  8. Dan says:

    I was a physics major 1967-72 (I crammed a four year program into five years), and one of my favorite memories of the venerable old building was a graffito in the first floor men’s room:

    Heisenberg may have slept here.

    Also many fond memories of faculty: Harold Rorschach, Tom Estle, G. King Walters, Neal Lane, Arthur Few, et al. Thanks for the pictures!

    Dan Henderson
    WRC ’72

  9. John Benson says:

    …great memories of my days in that building… first exposure to Rice physics in 1970…

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