Before Autry House was built across Main Street from Rice by the Episcopal Diocese in 1921, there was a wooden building on the site that served as a temporary “community house” for Rice students. (There really was no one else in the vicinity.) It had been cobbled together in 1919 from a couple of old Army mess halls that had been used at Camp Logan during the first World War. I was always aware that it had existed–we have a single photo of it:
I’d also seen it briefly discussed in this excellent article by Joan Ferry (formerly of the Woodson Research Center) about Autry House that appeared in the Rice Historical Society’s newsletter, The Cornerstone, in 2008.
But it always seemed a little unreal to me–sort of lost in the mists of time. Unlike Autry House, where I’ve been many times, I couldn’t get any real sense of the place or what it meant. Then I found this while looking for something in a scrapbook that belonged to a student from the 1920s:
It’s nothing earth shaking, just a ticket to a dance. But in an instant the Community House became real to me. Why? Because now I can see people in it.