With the old photographs in the Teas collection as inspiration, I’ve spent a little time looking around in some other collections that we already have in the Woodson. I think I’ve been able to put together a decent picture of Rice’s earliest landscaping efforts. The first thing I found was in the President’s Office Papers. It’s a contract for general clearing and cleanup of the the front part of campus. It calls for the removal of small trees, shrubs and underbrush under the direction of the architect as well as plowing and harrowing and then finally planting grass. As you can see, it’s dated May 6, 1912, roughly five months before delegates from around the world would arrive for the Institute’s Opening ceremonies
To give you some idea of what this job entailed, here’s a picture from the William Ward Watkin Papers of the front part of the campus in March, 1912, just a bit before the contract was signed:
Now here’s how it looked about a year later, after what was obviously a great deal of work:
And finally here’s a page from one of the Teas payroll books (kept in accordance with the terms of the contract) that records some of the work done just before the Opening:
I acknowledge that I am easily amused, but it was great fun putting together obscure items from three different collections and seeing how they all fit together. Better than a cheeseburger, even. And there will be more later!