Living in the Dorm

All I have tonight are a couple of tidbits of the early “on-campus” experience at South Hall. Both of these came out of the scrapbook that was kept by Ervin “Tiny” Kalb, a member of the class of 1916 and one of the best players on Rice’s first football teams. If they seem a bit cock-eyed, it’s because they are pretty firmly glued to the pages of what is a very large scrapbook, so there’s only so much I can do to get the whole document scanned in straight. It’s kind of interesting that Kalb lived in the dorm, as his family was from Houston.

Here’s a drawing of the layout of the rooms on the third floor when the dorm opened in 1912. Tiny’s room is in the middle of the floor, Room 316:

And here’s the bill for a month’s room and board in the fall of 1914:

Here’s a room in South Hall in 1939. It can’t have been much different than it was when the dorm first opened–pretty Spartan:


Bonus: The suspense is killing me.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Living in the Dorm

  1. effegee says:

    You do know the history of those trees, don’t you?

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I bet you know something about it that I don’t!

      • effegee says:

        I have noticed several pictures of these trees in various states in a number of your posts.
        Some blown over. Some looking like tongues of flame in death.

        In the early ’80s, the quad was filled with waist-high yaupon hedges. Where larger expanses were left by the course of sidewalks, the hedges were somewhat mazelike, creating boxes of enclosed space. In nice whether, students would sometimes engage in study and other activities inside the boxes. Blackberry vines had sprung up among some of the hedges providing, from personal experience, a tasty enhancement for morning breakfast cereal for those returning from all-nighters in the computer lab.

        A few months after George Rupp’s arrival as the fifth (or is it sixth! heh) president, I recall walking to Cohen House for lunch one day finding the quad looking as if it had been hit by bulldozers gone wild. Two thirds of the hedges had been plowed up and piled up with the rest obvious next on the agenda. Eventually, the cleared ground was leveled out, replanted with the current configuration of hedges, and sodded with new grass. It was pretty unimpressive — lots of open grass.

        Then the trees appeared adding elegance and height that was visually appealing. However, with the trees came the problems chronicled in the pictures you have posted. They blew over in the wind which resulted in the installation of guy wires. They blew over in stronger winds resulting in better engineered guy wires. A number of them died in a particularly hot and dry summer which necessitated installing irrigation at the base of each tree. Unlike the old or new hedges, the trees required a lot of TLC for years until they finally got firmly rooted.

        The reason for the uprooting of the old “maze” hedges was to allow the reinstatement of commencement inside the quad with graduates passing out through the sallyport completing the cycle they began when entering it during matriculation. These were abandoned traditions that Rupp found while studying Rice’s history before assuming office and brought back. The old hedge layout carved the space up into too many small spaces to allow enough seating for the number of graduates and guests of the modern Rice.

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

    Re pic of “… room in South Hall in 1939” :
    It looks much like the room and furnishings that Brad Thompson ’55 and I shared when we worked in the “Health Center” in West Hall (whatever it’s called nowadays). That would have been 1953-55.

  3. Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

    West Hall became the Hanzsen College old section. I lived on the third floor in 1976-78. The layout was similar but not identical. The room numbers progressed the other way (311 was nearest the stairs). There was only one single (room 313). There was a bathroom on the opposite side of the hall, opposite room 311 if I remember correctly. The tower rooms were 2 rooms each, quad rooms in that period. This was after Hanzsen became co-ed.

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

      “This was after Hanzsen became co-ed.”

      I know: I NEVER got to have any fun.

  4. Leoguy says:

    Hanszen became a co-ed college my senior year, 1973-74. I lived in the “old” section (i.e. West Hall) of Hanszen for 4 years and enjoyed every moment of it. Well, maybe not every moment, there were those meals that no one could identify…
    Introducing women into the college was the best thing that ever happened to Hanszen.

    • Wendy Kilpatrick Laubach '78 says:

      My elder sister persuaded me that I should choose an all-women’s dorm when I arrived in 1974, because they were “nicer.” Bleah. I never liked living in Brown, so my roommate (Mary Currier Mallette) and I petitioned to be allowed to change to a co-ed dorm. The rule then was that you could never change colleges, to prevent them becoming too clubby. They considered our request, though, and decided it would be OK to allow us to transfer to co-ed; we were assigned to Hanszen for our sophomore year on. Oddly, although I camped out on the couches of various friends in Hanszen for much of my freshman year, we moved off of campus as sophomores, so we never actually lived there as members. Still, the old section of Hanszen is firmly rooted in my mind as what a residential college is all about, especially the tower rooms: the epitome of charm.

      In my sister’s time (’75), the residents of the men’s colleges had to put plywood over their windows to protect themselves from the long-distance water-balloon battles.

      • L Mallette says:

        Mary Currier Mallette, MD is currently leading the Mississippi State Department of Health as Chief Health Officer.

  5. Pat Campbell says:

    The corresponding hallway in Baker (formerly East Hall) was known as “The Alley” – the room shown in the picture has furniture identical to what I recall from my freshman room in the Baker tower in 1965-1966.

    • effegee says:

      The furniture in Baker “Alley” had been replaced by freshman week 1969 with 6’6″ metal-framed bunk beds and with ’60s-style office furniture desk and chair. There were a couple of side chairs in Baker 314 in fall 1970. I can’t recall if the occupants provided them or the university did.

      BTW, Baker 312 was logically at the end of “The Alley” but cut off by a bathroom that served all of the rooms in the east tower by Allen Center. The bathroom is what made “The Alley” “The Alley”. A subsequent remodel of Baker, the stairwell at entrance 2 was cut through to the third floor.

  6. Pingback: Baker Commons | Rice History Corner

  7. Pingback: Kalb Lecture | Rice History Corner

Leave a Reply