The Genesis of the Athletic Field, Plus a Conversation with Maxwell O. Reade, ’40

There’s always been an athletic field where the track and soccer stadium is today but oddly enough, it was meant to be a temporary site.  Luckily, since no one knew exactly how long “temporary” would be, a great deal of planning and work went into making it as fine a field as possible. I recently came across this 1911 letter about the project from Wilmer Waldo, the engineer who handled much of the early Institute infrastructure, to President Lovett. He’s eager to do a good job, but his cautious remarks about drainage problems in the chosen location proved to be prescient:

And here’s the kind of document I really love–it’s a pay sheet for the men (and mules) who built the cinder track. I like to know who they were.

Bonus: Remember Maxwell Reade, who got his doctorate in math from the Rice Institute in 1940? We have his scrapbook in the Woodson and I’ve written about him several times. I talked to him on the phone today! No kidding! It was wonderful and made me gloriously happy. I was able to tell him the name of his roommate when he lived in the faculty tower (Jim Lewis) and he had another cockamamie question about Lovett Hall that I was unable to answer, but this is good too because it gives me a reason to call him back when I figure it out. Here’s a picture he took sometime in the late 30s:

Extra Bonus: This is from way up in the BRC.



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