Banks Street Apartments

I had lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago and he was reminiscing (fondly, I think) about the days before Jones College when many Rice girls from outside Houston lived at the Institute-owned Banks Street Apartments. They are, of course, long gone, replaced no doubt by enormous houses. (Although I know they’re gone, I admit that I did not go check out what replaced them. I’ll go over for a look as soon as I can–but I think my guess is a pretty good one.)

I went back to the Woodson after lunch and was able to dig out a couple of pictures of the exterior of the apartments. They’re not dated, but I’ll call them circa 1954. If you have reason to believe I’m wrong about that, please let me know. I really like these pictures–when you look at them you can believe that the world is full of possibilities:

About fifteen minutes after I found these, I ran across an article in the Thresher that ran about a year after Jones opened. Unsurprisingly, the new availability of housing for women on campus only served to increase the demand for housing for women on campus. But before Brown College could be built to deal with that demand, Rice sent some girls (I can’t quite figure out how many, but it was significant) over to live in the dormitory of Texas Womens University across the street in the Med Center, just so they could be closer to campus. Most of these young women were from the growing suburbs of Houston and while it might sound a bit odd, they seemed to love living in the TWU dorms: “You have such a feeling of freedom, no parents watching everything you do!” Amen, sister.

I also don’t know when Rice sold off the Banks Street Apartments. It’s exactly the kind of thing I’ll discover some day by accident.

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11 Responses to Banks Street Apartments

  1. James Medford says:

    I live just a few blocks south of the 1100 block of Banks. The apartments were replaced by giant gaudy townhouses.

  2. I vaguely remember the building in the picture. Would be interested to know when they were torn down. Reminds me (not the picture, but the article) about the motel Rice bought for grad students, not too many blocks down Main St.

    • Bill Cox says:

      Would that be the old Tidelands Motel, located on the site of the BRC? It was still a motel during the early 1970s (my parents once stayed there) but I do vaguely remember that it was converted to grad student apartments.

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

    The girl standing alone looked familiar.
    In the “1955 Campanile”, I found among the distinguished Class of 1956, the picture of an attractive and perky Rice girl named Evelyn POWELL from Temple (who later added PAYNE as her married name). She is also in my Campaniles of 1953 and 1956, with a different “do” in 1956. (I have no idea what happened to my 1954 Campanile but suspect that Andrew Leslie BALLARD ’56, stole it, as well as ruining my turtle neck sweator at one of those disreputable parties he attended!)

    She may have seemed familiar because she was pictured next to a handsome fellow named Eugene PRATT from Memphis, TN. (He reportedly had a delightful Suthren accent, which fact was never verified, as NO one could understand him.)
    Sadly, Eveylyn was reported to be deceased, in the Alumni Directory of 2003. RIP, Evelyn.

    P.S., Did any males ever enter the hallowed halls of the Banks Apts., other than during the infamous “panty raids” of that era?

    P.P.S., Michael Joe Thannisch, when are you going to explain that outfit you’re wearing?

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I don’t know what the visitation rules were in the apartments, but I bet I can find them. That would actually be worthwhile for my own research!

      • Grungy says:

        Have you posted anything about the curfew rules that the women’s dorms had back then? Somewhere in my archives are carbons of letters written to some authority in either Jones or Brown, begging exclusion from curfew. The ladies were traveling with the Rice Band, likely headed to NOLA for Mardi Gras (this was in the mid- to late-Sixties).

      • Pat Campbell says:

        Grungy – at least one of those letters (and in-person appeal) was one I wrote (as Band Personnel Manager) to Hallie Beth Poindexter – Dean of Women – requesting after the Texas Game in 1967 that the women in the band be allowed to return before 2AM (CST) rather than 2AM (CDT) so they could attend a party in Austin. The weekend was time change and the buses required 3 hours to get back. Hallie Beth was amused and allowed it.
        The trips to New Orleans for Mardi Gras were all overnight trips – the girls could sign out overnight – the problem was they couldn’t get in between 2 AM and 6 AM. In the late 60’s they could even sign out overnight by phone.

  4. Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

    The Tidelands was still a motel when I graduated in 1982. I don’t think Rice bought it for graduate student hosing until the 1990’s at the earliest.

  5. Carolyn Brewer says:

    I lived in the Banks Apts, so would have info if you have not had an overabundance of responses to this email, which I just found.
    Let me know if you need more answers…or questions.
    Carolyn Satterwhite Brewer ’58
    I also lived at Jones the first year it was open.

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

      Carolyn,
      Could you please tell me why it was that every time I tried to pick up my dates at the Banks Apt., the girls sere sick in bed with “strep throat” and could NOT see anyone?

  6. Sharon Gardner says:

    I lived in one of the apartments at 1123 for almost 10 years in the 80’s, loved it. I drove by one day when I was in the area, and they were in the process of tearing it down. Made me very sad, I brought home (and still have) part of a cornerstone.

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