I was badly stumped by a photo for the better part of this afternoon. I came across it in a folder labeled “General Campus Scenes,” a not particularly helpful designation. All the other pictures in the file were instantly recognizable but very bland images of Lovett Hall, the main quad, and so forth, some with students, some without. They can legitimately be called “general campus scenes.” This one, though, I’d be willing to bet wound up in this folder not because it’s “general” but because no one could figure out what it was.

Of course, the first thing you notice is the snow. That’s why someone was wandering around taking pictures like this in the first place. But otherwise, this is a strange view. You can see three buildings through the gate and the trees, two relatively modern looking and one obviously quite old. Looking at it, I had the sensation that something was badly out of kilter. After staring at it for a while and enjoying a couple of consultations with campus experts, I think I get it now. What got me squared away was the gate itself. I knew I’d seen that particular ironwork somewhere before:

That’s the original terrace railing, now inside the Main Dining room of Cohen House. So this must be inside the walled garden, looking out across what’s a parking lot today. The buildings visible along the side are the back of Allen Center and the old part of Baker. The one directly across the trees is the 1955 wing of Baker. Right?

I’m still a bit uneasy about this because I don’t quite understand the sequence of events at Cohen House that led to the creation of that view. The garden was originally enclosed by a hedge. Here it is in a side view from probably sometime in the 1940s:

Nice palm trees.

The wall was added in 1960, after the 1959 Lloyd and Morgan addition enclosed the old terrace. This gate must have been put in then. I’ll see if I can figure this out tomorrow. Also, I didn’t have time to go look but I don’t think it’s there anymore. If not, then when did it disappear? Hmmmm.


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13 Responses to Stumped

  1. Mike Ross says:

    >> The one directly across the trees is the 1955 wing of Baker. Right?

    Yep. Your inclination is correct. You can also see the end of the Baker Commons through the grill work and trees. Also, Allen Center was built quite a few years after those Cohen House, modifications, correct? So that timing should not be an issue.

    • Pat Campbell says:

      Mike and Melissa are correct as to the buildings in the picture and the vantage point. From the photo information, this was taken spring 1973 – the year of the three snows.

      • Melissa Kean says:

        I’m the one who produces the photo names, so take that with a grain of salt! Still, I think it’s pretty clearly 1973. What puzzles me a bit is I don’t know when the parking lot was put in behind Allen Center.

  2. effegee says:

    Definitely right about the buildings. I didn’t get to go in the backyard of CoHo until 1983. I don’t recall openings in the brick wall surrounding on the Allen Center side, but I may have missed one. The section of ironwork in the photo may have been a mirror image of one on the other side of the yard. If so, it may have been eliminated by the expansions of the dining room and kitchen prior to that time. I believe there is a loading dock in that vicinity now.

    Looking at the left end of the ironwork, I notice that the brickwork that is visible in the foreground is outside the ironwork. Also, there appears to be a silvery doorknob, also outside the ironwork. It’s about 1/2 down very near the left side of the image. I had to zoom the enlarged photo about 400% to see it. The knob appears to be at right angle to the ironwork suggesting either a door or a gate at right angle.

    Stephen Fox’s Rice University dates Allen Center to 1967 (p.148).

    Weather Research Center reports snow for Houston for these dates after it was built through 1989. (
    1973 January 11 2.0
    1973 February 9-10 1.4
    1973 February 17-18 1.4
    1978 January 19-20 0.4
    1980 February 2 1.4
    1981 January 19 Trace
    1981 February 11 Trace
    1985 January 2 1.0
    1985 February 1 0.3
    1989 February 6 Trace
    1989 December 22 1.7

    Lot of snow on 1/11/1973. There was also a lot of rain just before one of those snowfalls in 1973 that left the sidewalks bare but snow on the grass.

  3. John B. Boles says:

    We need more palm trees on campus. John Boles

  4. Grungy says:

    Looking at the satellite or aircraft view on Google Maps, the mystery gate was definitely built over in one of the additions to the building. It looks like it would have been about where the elevator tower was added.

    I was looking at it to see if they had printed it backwards, that it was on the Loop side, but the wing of Baker running across the image could not have been there on the other side.

  5. Barney L. McCoy says:

    This has nothing to do with the picture, which I agree is taken from Cohen looking at Baker, but today’s Shelby trivia quiz at RUBPA concerns acting Presidents of Rice. A Rice website listing Presidents contains a “Cry Cronies” who I assume to be geologist Cary Croneis who was still at Rice when I was there in the mid-60s. If Melissa could confirm this and then have it corrected I would appreciate it. A University devoted to Knowledge should not publish on its website inaccuracies about its past Presidents. Barney L. McCoy, Hanszen 67

  6. Melissa Kean says:

    Thanks, Mike. I’ll get someone to fix it.

  7. Melissa Kean says:

    After having a look at it, I’m more impressed that nobody caught “Kenneth Sunburnt Pitzer.” That’s pretty funny.

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