Two Mysteries

I’m sure these are both easy and I’m just overlooking something. Here’s the first one:

It’s the basketball team in about 1920. That’s President Lovett’s son, Malcolm, by the way, seated at the second left. He was quite a good player and later Chairman of the Board. What’s puzzling me is that I don’t know where they’re standing. I’d been assuming they were by the field house but now that I look at this image of the building in 1920 I realize that can’t be right. The windows are all wrong. Maybe by one of the dorms?

Just for fun here’s another, and rather odd, shot of the field house in this era:

And here’s my second puzzle:

My colleague Rebecca has been processing a large collection that was recently donated to the Woodson and she turned up this undated aerial photograph. I really like this picture—it was taken from dead straight above the campus so you can get a great look at the roof of each building. (At first impression this is possibly not that interesting to most people, but there’s actually something to be learned from it.) The question about this one is the obvious: what year was it taken? It’s easy to see right off the bat that it’s early 90s, but does anyone see something that can pinpoint it a bit closer?


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30 Responses to Two Mysteries

  1. Charley Landgraf says:

    Alice Brown Hall (1991) and George R. Brown (1992) look to be completed, but ground has not been broken on Duncan Hall (completed 1996) nor James A. Baker III Hall (completed 1997) nor Dell Butcher Hall (completed 1997). So, pending more specific, information on those or other groundbreakings, best guess would be 1993 or 1994 — unless it’s 1992 and some details are still being finished under a roofed-in Geo. R. Brown bio-engineering building. Bet Malcolm Gillis could pinpoint the date as he was president during on of the mentioned developments.

  2. Chris C says:

    Both Bonner Lab and George R. Brown Hall are standing — that didn’t last for very long. It had to be between fall 1991 and spring 1994.

  3. James Medford says:

    I think the photo of the basketball team was taken on the north side of Hanszen’s Old Section (West Hall). I’m basing this on the “shells” carved into the building above the door just to the right of center in the picture.

  4. C Kelly says:

    I can’t help with the questions, but I’m intrigued with photos of the old field house. It succumbed to the wrecking ball long before my time.

  5. Whit Matteson says:

    There’s a Google Earth history view that says the image is from 1/22/1995, which predates your overhead shot. The differences are subtle, but, for example, the sidewalks extending diagonally from the center of the Shepherd School building toward campus, which extend all the way to the adjacent roadways in your photo, only extend to the parallel sidewalk in the Google Earth view. I’m not convinced that the Google Earth views are always correctly dated though, so relying on them for something like this is a risky proposition!

    • eyrieowl says:

      The extension to the roadways was…unofficial, at least for a long while. I remember making treks to Shepherd and skirting the mud on wet mornings.

  6. hughconnie says:

    In regards to the basketball team in the old photo,they are probably pictured in front of Hanszen Hall-THE only(male) dormitory in 1920-the others were Lovett Hall,Physics Building and the Commons(where the library was).The photo of the basketball team of 1920 published in The Rice Institute Calendar 1920 only shows 6 players including M.Lovett-where were all these other guys unless this is another year?Interestingly the football photo showed 23 players with Coach Arbuckle.The SPONSOR of this yearbook/calendar was Adelaide Lovett(guess who’s daughter?) My mom Edina Hogan was a freshman beauty pictured in this jewel from the past-the aerial view of 1920 Houston and the clothing ads,$2.00 private dance lessons,etc are very entertaining.

  7. Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

    Do you know how hard it is to find a picture of the back of Hanszen? Even the college website doesn’t have one. And, by the way, the Hanszen College website History Page ( contains at least two errors I know of. The other co-ed college in 1973 was Baker, not Lovett. And the coffeehouse (Valhalla) was in the basement of the new section, not in the attic (now Weenie Loft) of the old section.

  8. hughconnie says:

    Hello?Deborah’s comment on where the team was pictured confirms my earlier comment that Hanszen was THE dorm about the start of 1920’s when the photo was taken.The 1920 “Calendar” shows a photo of the 4 Rice buildings-am I wrong?

    • Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

      The early dorms were North Hall (now Baker College), then South Hall (now Will Rice’s old section) and West Hall (now Hanszen’s old section). I believe all had been built by the 1920’s.

  9. Melissa Kean says:

    Here are the buildings that were on campus in1920: Lovett Hall (1912), Mech Lab (1912), East Hall, which included the Commons dining hall (1912), South Hall (1912), Physics (1914), West Hall (1917), Field House (1920).

    I don’t have the specific photo you’re talking about in front of me right now, but if it only has four buildings in it, it was either taken well before 1920 or it simply doesn’t show every building.

    • grungy1973 says:

      My timeline shows the 1912 opening structures to be Lovett Hall, South Hall (now Will Rice College old wing), the Central Dining Hall (now Baker Commons), Mech Lab and Central Plant, and the Harris Gully footbridge.
      1913 added Rice Field.
      1914 added Physics (now Herzstein Hall) and East Hall (Baker College old wing).
      1915 added the Chemistry Annex.
      1916 added West Hall (Hanszen College old wing)

      It’s still unclear to me if there were students living in rooms of what is now Baker at the time of the opening.
      All of the references that I find say it was the dining hall only.

      • James Medford says:

        Your timeline is correct. Stephen Fox’s Campus Guide is indispensable for this type of info. When Rice opened in 1912, there were unmarried faculty living in the five-story “faculty tower” of the Commons (now Baker Commons). South Hall (now Will Rice’s Old Section) was the only housing for undergrads until completion of East Hall (now Baker Old Section) in 1914.

  10. hughconnie says:

    You win-thanks for the building research-the photo just didn’t show all the buildings-it was taken for the 1920 Rice Calendar(Probably the yearbook then)-you & Melissa would enjoy that masterpiece-_I didn’t see the need for a bunch of dorms in 1920 since the Senior class lists all 156 members and their cities-only TWO are out of town,one from Friendswood.Melissa,would the Woodson Research folks need to copy this Yearbook?Hugh Welsh “56

  11. lilypons says:

    Groundbreaking for Baker Hall was 10/20/94. So it depends on how quickly construction began after that and I don’t think I see signs of construction.

  12. eyrieowl says:

    I’d suggest looking at the building across Main with the construction crane. I’m not sure exactly which building that was, but if you could pin that down, and find out when it was undergoing construction, that should give you better time resolution. The other things I note which were there at some point in the mid 90s were several scorekeeper towers at the track stadium. There was one on the north side of the track, and a smaller tower on the top of the grand-stand. I don’t see shadows for either, which makes me think they aren’t present. The tower on the track stadium grand-stand was definitely there by fall of 1994, and I think the stand-alone tower…well, I’m not sure when it was erected, but it was definitely there by fall of 1996. Pretty sure it was there in 1995/1996 as well. At any rate, I’m pretty sure you’re looking prior to 1994.

  13. Grungy says:

    Well, this doesn’t exist in the picture, and it wasn’t even started:
    “The John L. Cox Fitness Center, an 8,000-square-foot strength and conditioning complex, used by all Rice athletes as well as the general student body, opened in early 1996”.
    The crane is on what was once a private clinic/hospital building, and in it’s place now is “Spiney Norman”, the Methodist Outpatient Building. The small brown roof with the lone tree just “above” the crane in the photo is the old Baptist Student Union.

  14. Grungy says:

    The crane is on the former Diagnostic Center Hospital.
    I’ve found info on it’s start and end at Emporis, but nothing about this construction.
    Ground was broken for the Albert B. Alkek School of Biomedical Sciences at BCM some time in 1995, and that piece of land is still grass in this photo.

  15. Grungy says:

    Information on DCH is not easy to find, since it wasn’t particularly memorable architecture and it’s gone. Nothing on it here, but other interesting tidbits and opinions:

  16. Andy Arenson says:

    Bonner nuclear lab was destroyed in 1994 (per this cool blog I read:

    I was going to note the Alkek groundbreaking in ’95, but Grungy beat me to it.

  17. effegee says:

    Don’t forget to look at the area surrounding the Facilities building along Sunset. The co-gen plant, along with changes to the building itself, the cooling tower, the small buildings near the Sunset power line, and in the equipment parking yard were incremental changes that often were undertaken in times without other major projects in progress. Facilities can provide dates for some of the projects.

    The area has undergone substantial changes since the photo in this post. In particular, the cooling tower and facilities buildings had been replaced by the time an aerial of which I have a copy was taken in late 2001-early 2002.

    There may have been some changes to the footprint of the back side of Cohen House during the period too. The changes about which I am thinking were in the kitchen area and the opposite (some offices) added between the lower patio and the parking lot. Can’t recall the dates of these.

  18. College lots are full. It’s during the school term. Alice Pratt Brown courtyards are finished. That means after summer 1991. Tile roofs look great — a recent maintenance project? Bonner’s still in use: people are parking there. The Heizer rocks are there, but that was ’84. RUPD building is there. Road to Entrance 17 along the parking lot edge is NOT there. Fleming Park looks awful: late summer? Football field graphics are not in place yet. I’m guessing late summer ’91 or not much after that.

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