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.