Harry Weiser

Update: A reader who is both alert and diligent did my checking for me and posted the answer in the comments section. (That isn’t, in fact Weiser in the carving. It’s the registrar, Samuel McCann.) Instead of waiting until morning and going to the library, he did it online, here. I should have thought of that, but I didn’t, so Michael Thannish wins the glory this time. I’m extremely grateful for the help! In a small bit of irony, the drawing of the Chemistry Building carvings that he refers to is already scanned and inside my laptop.

Weiser is the dragon in the lower right corner. This is what happens when a dean gets ahold of you.

In an earlier post a talked a little bit about Harry Weiser, who was an early Rice chemist and later Dean. He was recruited by President Lovett in 1915 as a brand new Ph.D. from Cornell and would prove to be one of the stalwarts in the building of the Institute. He was a talented chemist and an able administrator who served as head of the Chemistry Department for thirty-five years. He was also a cheerful and popular teacher, who fell naturally into the role of Dean, which he filled from 1933 until his too-early death in 1950. (He was succeeded by another chemist, Holmes Richter, class of 1926.)

Today I accidentally came across a beautiful picture of him in his office in a scrapbook that belonged to his daughter, Dorothy, when she attended Rice in the mid-1930s. I think this is lovely.

Something about it compelled me to go over to the Chemistry Building and see if I could figure out where it was taken. The building has been remodeled and there’s been some renumbering of the rooms, but this is roughly the same place. It’s Kathy Matthews’ office now. (While I was there, I subtly conned her into taking me for a tour of the new physics building, Brockman Hall. It is absolutely gorgeous–I’ll post some pictures later.)

While I was on my way over there, I remembered this. I’m pretty sure that’s Weiser on the left, although I’m at home and can’t check. Tell you what–I’ll check tomorrow and report back later. Don’t even think about asking me who’s on the right. I have no idea.

Bonus picture: Replacing the floor at Autry Court.

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7 Responses to Harry Weiser

  1. Michael Joe Thannisch says:

    I was thinking it was Weiser too, but I checked and found the following:

    I photographed a print of the original tracing of the three Fates of destiny from Greek mythology, where Clotho spins the thread of life, Lachesis measures it, and Atropos severs it. Our three Fates of academic destiny are Samuel Glenn McCann, the direc-
    tor of admissions; Harry Caldwell, dean of the Institute, who is measuring (by rades) the thread of knowledge; and Dr Radoslav Tsanoff, chairman of the Committee on
    Examinations and Standings, who severs the academic thread with a menacing pair of shears. The original drawings of the other three capitals are in the university archives, but the original drawing of the three Fates has been lost. Fortunately a
    print was made before it disappeared. These four capital designs were made by James Chillman of the faculty in architecture. Only Mr. McCann and Dean Caldwell
    made it into the final carving. On the opposite side of the arch is a freshman in Chemistry 100 with his bunsen burner, extracting poison from the dragon’s tooth.

    Around the corner is the carving of the tall (6 foot, 4 inch), thin (l40 pounds), very length)’-legged William Ward Watkin with a T-square in hand. Architectural students are bowing down in due respect, perhaps to the Lord High Executioner, and Mr.
    VC’atkin has one foot on the neck of a freshman. Mr. Chillman’s original pencil drawing showed a halo over Mr. Watkin’s head, but this was deleted by the architect. (Architecture was housed in this building when it was completed.)

    The last capital is a huge winged dragon with the head of Harry B. Weiser, instead of the crested head. Note the terrible claws with which the dragon subdues a student. The head in the upper right-hand corner is that of Mr Flanigan, who was in charge of the chemistry storeroom and was Dr. Weiser’s assistant.

    I found this at: http://www.archive.org/stream/walkingtourofric00more/walkingtourofric00more_djvu.txt

    Tempts me to come back and look once again.

  2. Grungy says:

    Sadly, Dr. Tsanoff appears to have been lost to renovation, IIRC.
    I took that walking tour once as well, but Herr Thannisch found the reference.

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