Finding the ROTC buildings

I’m still working through all the slides I looked at last week. There’s a lot to think about. I found pictures of not one, but two ROTC buildings, Navy and Army, both taken in 1952.

This first one is the Army building. It’s nice, simple and utilitarian.

And here’s the Navy building. For some reason they felt the need to display large weaponry. (I’m not judging, though.)


But where were they? I thought that the Army building must be the red-roofed one behind the Mech Lab in this 1952 picture taken from the top of the stadium, but I wasn’t certain so I didn’t mention it. Today, though, I was looking for a picture of Hamman Hall when I came across this construction shot from 1957. Enlarge it and you can, in fact, clearly see the building directly behind the Mech Lab annex. I’m pretty sure the Navy building is just to the right, but you can only get a glimpse of it in between the trees.

I tried to find a picture of the rear of either the Mech Lab or Ryon Lab to see if I could get a better view of the Navy building–but I could not find a single photo taken at any time of the back of either building. I find that quite sad.

Bonus picture: Here’s another construction photo of Hamman Hall, obviously farther along in the process. Zoom in on it and you’ll see a big barn-like structure beginning to rise out of the trees behind it. What is that? First Christian Church?

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19 Responses to Finding the ROTC buildings

  1. C Kelly says:

    Good stuff, but I still have nightmares in which I’m sitting in Hamman Hall taking a test.

    • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

      C Kellly,
      Just read your response and it reminded me that I had recurring nightmares of Rice Institute assignments for 15 or more years after graduation.
      It was usually my missing getting a term paper in, or in on time, or losing it, or the like.
      I did NOT have n-mares of tests.

      I wonder what the architects dreamed of in later years: They were notorious for pulling all-nighters to get their projects in, at the last minute.

  2. Melissa Kean says:

    I hearby excuse you from all tests! Feel free to let your subconscious know about this.

  3. Grungy says:

    Yes, that’s the First Christian Church.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      That’s what I thought, but their own website says they started construction in 1959. I think you’re correct and they’re mistaken. There’s a whole series of Hamman Hall construction photos, consecutively dated, that show the beginnings of the church building in 1958.

  4. Grungy says:

    Army ROTC wound up in the basement of Central Kitchen (where The MOB is now), and the firing range is/was in the basement of Autry Court.

  5. Perhaps the building was dedicated in 1959, even though their own history page does say that construction started in 1959.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      That’s a pretty good guess. It’s been my experience that most institutions have a pretty tenuous grasp on their own history. To be fair, it takes a lot of work to keep from losing the past completely.
      Thanks for commenting.

  6. Bob says:

    Didn’t the firing range under Autry disappear with the renovation into Tudor Fieldhouse?

  7. James Medford says:

    The third photo has the best view of the old Mech Lab Annex building I’ve seen so far. I’d seen it in old aerial photos, but it was always kind of a blurry presence in the background.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I’m not even sure when it was built! This might be fodder for some future post.

      • James Medford says:

        According to Stephen Fox’s campus guide, it was originally called the Chemistry Annex, and was built in 1915. It was torn down when Ryon Lab was built in the 60’s.

  8. Steve Weakley says:

    Didn’t the Navy ROTC Building get burned down in 1971 under mysterious circumstances? It was the same year as the fire at the RMC.

  9. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT says:

    These are 2 responses about the location of the ROTC type buildings.
    The responses were posted on our RICE INSTITUTE CLASS OF 1956 website, by the people named.

    ” Charles KOBERG – Jun 5, 2011
    Categories: Remember THIS?
    n her blog, Rice Centennial Historian Melissa Kean is attempting to pinpoint the locations of the
    Army and the Navy buildings in our time. I wasn’t ROTC, so my fuzzy memory isn’t really
    accurate. She needs input from our “been there done that” crowd.

    Her blog, with many old pix, is quite interesting. It’s on the Web at

    Read what others had to say:
    Ann “Deedee” MECK McMURTRY – Jun 7, 2011
    That’s a great blog – thanks for sending it.
    The ROTC building was to the right of the entrance to the campus off Rice boulevard – the
    street that goes past the student center now. It was rather non-discript, if I remember
    George RANDOLPH – Jun 7, 2011
    That would be to the right if you were exiting onto Rice Blvd. The ROTC bldg was across that little street from the old power plant.

  10. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT says:

    More from the same source:
    Robert SMITH – Jun 9, 2011
    I second George Randolph’s location of the Naval ROTC building and the Army building was right next to it to the left of it looking towards Rice Boulevard..
    Bob Smith
    Charles KOBERG – Jun 9, 2011 There’s a small photo of the buildings in the 1956 Campanile, bottom of page 68.

  11. Pingback: Campus Construction, Negatives, 1964-68: Ryon Lab | Rice History Corner

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