Abercrombie Lab, Circa 1950

I spent a significant amount of time this afternoon trying to figure out how and when the Tau Beta Pi bent moved around in front of Abercrombie as well as when the little pool was filled in. I found quite a few interesting things but I still don’t feel comfortable that I have it all pieced together. (This is one of the all too common moments when I’d give almost anything to be able to talk to Alan Chapman again. I really miss him.)

Anyway, as I dug around I found a couple of really nice pictures of the building taken not long after it was completed. The first one was looks to be a bit earlier, maybe 1948ish, and gives us a nice look at the lay of the land:

Abercrombie exterior c1948

This second one I’ve never seen before–this was taken just inside the front door, looking out toward the west. Note that there are hedges that aren’t there in the first picture:

Abercrombie interior c1950

So those hedges were either planted after the first picture was taken or removed before it. It’s got to be the first option because they weren’t there in this December 1947 aerial:

Fondren Construction aerial December 1947

My first thought when I looked at these was “Is that Paul Pfeiffer walking through the door??” I think maybe it is:

Paul Pfeiffer in class

My second thought was “So. Much. Parking!”

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11 Responses to Abercrombie Lab, Circa 1950

  1. I agree. Dr. Pfeiffer, who looks rather formidable as a young man. Not so teddy-bear-like as he became in later life. I almost think the guy on the right in the interior shot is wearing a Navy uniform, but I’m not going to pursue the allegation. I don’t think the short-sleeve khaki was authorized for off-ship wear that early and I’m not sure there’s a rank badge on the collar, (might be a button) And, I’m not completely certain the shirt and pants match the way a Navy uniform would. Vehicles in both pictures confirm pre-1950. I think the little hedges had just been planted in the second picture and hadn’t yet been planted in the first one. Giant motor court where the Rocks are now!

  2. Sandy Havens says:

    I agree that it is Pfeiffer. I am puzzled by the photo in which he is entering. Parking is behind him but none of the photos show parking to the West of Abercrombie. They do show parking to the South of Abercrombie. Is Paul entering from a South entrance? And, further puzzlement: what is the building just West of the Mech Lab?

  3. mjthannisch says:

    Not a uniform. The belt is wrong. Uniform belt would be webbed khaki

    • Yes, you are right about the belt, and the shoes don’t look quite right either. I can imagine a situation where the black belt might be informally approved, but all in all I’m not convinced that the short-sleeve khaki uniform even existed at that time. Let’s just say he was wearing a shirt and pants with similar levels of color saturation. Something one might reasonably find in an engineering building. 😉 Sandy, it is clearly the west entrance, the doors and marble/granite entry are the same. Was there a parking lot added behind Chemistry when Ab Lab was finished? It’s not there in the construction aerial but there are too many cars there for it to be the elliptical turnaround where the Rocks are now. And yes, what’s the building next to Mech Lab?

  4. Don Johnson says:

    Back to the pond at the corner of Abercrombie and Mech Lab. I would contact Hardy Bourland; I know he was involved in getting rid of the water, which obviously occurred after I arrived in 1977.

    • mattnoall says:

      I confirm the pool at the “Bent of Tau Beta PPi was still a pool at least through 1979 but my memory is telling me that it was filled in some time soon after for whatever that is worth

  5. Grungy says:

    A lot of moguls on campus, but not covered with snow.

  6. The pond was listed in my WRC welcome guide. There was a tour of interesting places on campus, and that was one of them. I checked out all the places on the list. That was in fall 1975.

    I wish I still had that, but I loaned it out and never got it back. Fun op-art cover.

  7. Kathy says:

    Yes, parking did not USED to be such an issue! Even if closer-in lots might be full, there was a near-infinity of spaces in the stadium lot, back in the ’70’s.

  8. Pingback: Campus Construction, Negatives, 1964-68: Ryon Lab | Rice History Corner

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