Ye Old College Inn, Part II

In what has to be a bit of an upset, I discovered today that contrary to all my expectations there was no “e” on the end of “Old.” I had assumed that if you’re going to go with “Ye” you’d might as well go the whole nine yards. I suppose this is why I don’t work in marketing.

I went back this morning looking for interior shots of Ye Old College Inn and I found several good ones, some from the early 1920s and others from the 1940s. I was also reminded of what an interesting artifact the scrapbook really is. It’s quite a substantial thing, with wooden covers and nicely labeled photographs and articles. It seems to have been assembled by George Martin, the restaurant’s owner and a huge supporter of Rice athletics, sometime in the early 1960s. (I think I’ll add a post about him next week. Or maybe tomorrow. Who knows?? I’m unpredictable like that.)

College Inn scrapbook

The first thing I’d like to talk about today is where the building was located. I found this wonderful aerial shot taken in 1933 that lets us get a decent look. Directly across Main Street from the football field and the field house, you can see first a bunch of billboards and then the structure back in the trees. That’s it–just a smidge east of where Smith Tower is now.

Aerial 1933 4

And here’s one of the billboards, circa 1922, for Ye Old College Inn itself. They apparently got a lot of traffic from Rice sporting events.

Ye Old College Inn billboard c1922

Finally, here are a couple of interior shots from the 1920s. I love the guy in the Rice letter sweater at left in the top one. Very casual.

Ye Old College Inn 1920 dining room

This seems to be the same room a bit later and a touch fancier:
Ye Old College Inn interior 1920

I was a little surprised to note that the two pennants on the back wall are for North Dakota and South Dakota.

Bonus: Here’s something I’ve never seen before–these lights on in the daytime.

Day lights

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8 Responses to Ye Old College Inn, Part II

  1. Carolyn Brewer says:

    Ye Old College Inn was a revered institution. I attended Sports Banquets there and had dinner there after my Graduation. On that occasion I was presented with their cook book. I shall look at the PDF to see if it is the same as what I have. Lots of memories from all the places on Main come to mind but I shall not try to write all that.

  2. Richard A. Schafer says:

    If the “1920” on the tablecloth of the second picture is accurate, perhaps the first picture is just after opening, before the fancy decorations could be installed. Otherwise, that would suggest the place went from fancy to rustic later in the 1920s.Quite a beautiful place. I have no memories of it, even though it was still there in the 70s when I was a student and then worked on campus.

  3. Karl Benson '62 says:

    The interior bears a striking resemblance to the Cafe Parisien on the Titanic. See and note the first comment below the photo.

  4. Karl Benson '62 says:

    There are pennants on the walls adjacent to the fireplace also, but the only one I can make out is Stanford. There were probably more in other rooms.

  5. almadenmike says:

    Melissa, you are not alone in thinking it would/should have been “Olde”. A short article in the Fall 2000 Cornerstone (p. 12) also had the final “e”. (

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