Commons Library, 1920

A while ago we had an alum bring in something wonderful. Leigh Anderson, ’71, had been saving this little item since he found it in a box of old junk in a rental house in 1970 and decided that now was the time to donate it to Rice’s archives. (We’re very grateful!) It’s a 1920 Rice Owl calendar, apparently something produced only that year.

As a calendar it’s close to an abject failure–each “calendar” page has three months on it, all so tiny as to be useless. Many other pages, though, are absolutely fabulous. They give us a glimpse of student life I’ve not seen anywhere else. The first thing that caught my eye was this image. It looks so odd, packed with the ornate, old-fashioned furniture and decorations, and I wasn’t immediately certain where it was.

Look closely though, and it looks like it must be the Commons Library, maybe decorated for Christmas. Note the portrait of William Marsh Rice over the fireplace and that row of chairs along the wall on the right. We have those chairs (or at least some of them) in the basement annex of the Woodson–they’re sitting in front of a panel from the R1:

Then this turned up a few pages later. I especially like the caption on the portrait. This is interesting to me because for a variety of reasons I’ve always thought about this room as a place largely occupied by faculty, not so much by students. I guess I need to rethink that.

There’s lots more of interest in this calendar and also more about the library, but this is all I happen to have with me right now. I’ll be back in Houston tomorrow!

Bonus: The same room last July.

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6 Responses to Commons Library, 1920

  1. Richard Schafer says:

    Where is the Commons Library?

  2. Melissa Kean says:

    It’s the Baker Library today.

  3. hughconnie says:

    The Commons was one of the 4 original buildings at Rice-see pictures in The Rice Institute Calendar of 1920-Lovett Hall,Physics Building,Dormitory,and the Commons-I assume the students had an eating hall AND library in that building.Great aerial views of 1920 Houston,etc in this Calendar.My mother Edina Hogan had this as a 1920 frehman and is also one of the school beauties featured “at the Shrine of Psyche”.

  4. ed summers, Baker, 1959 says:

    I think that during the 1950s, that room was the athletes’ dining room – the “training table” where huge men ate steak three meals a day, seven days a week. The rest of us rarely, if ever, ventured inside it.

  5. Pingback: “This flying field was right next to the Rice fence,” 1918 | Rice History Corner

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