Allen Center Open House, November 1967

When I followed the advice that a former staff member had left on a folder and went looking for the Allen Center Photo Book, I was in for a couple of surprises. There’s a whole scrapbook of images that were taken at this one event and they turned out to be quite revealing. The building had only just been completed by way of an extremely generous gift from Herb Allen (’29) and his wife, Helen:

Allen Center Opening Allens

It was a modern office building, meant from its inception to house the university’s business functions, and it was, by Rice standards, pretty jazzy. Here are Mr. and Mrs. George R. Brown with Oveta Culp Hobby, all apparently struck dumb by that weird owl in the lobby (it’s still there, I think):

Allen Center Opening November 1967

I found this next photo slightly thrilling–the list of functions housed in the building contains a couple things I hadn’t expected, such as a Fine Arts Studio:

Allen Center Opening 2 Mr and Mrs Graham Boone

And finally there’s this. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on under the floor, but unless I miss my guess the guy with his back to us is Russ Pitman (’58), who served in Rice’s business offices in many capacities. I think when this picture was taken he was our chief accountant.

Allen Center Opening Eisenlohr back of Pitmans head

I almost fell off my chair when I blew this image up and looked at the name tags of the older couple who are gazing down at whatever Russ is up to here: the man is Otto Eisenlohr (’21) and the woman (id’ed only as “Mrs. Eisenlohr”) is his high school sweetheart and wife of many years. Even without a name tag I know that her name is Gainor, nee Roberts, because one of my favorite things in the Woodson is the collection of letters he wrote to her while he was a student at the Institute. These letters are a treasure trove of information about student life during Rice’s early years but they also are a vivid reminder of what it’s like to fall in love and then grow in that love. I’m so very happy to see them here. The letters are all online, by the way, if you’d like to read a few.

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13 Responses to Allen Center Open House, November 1967

  1. Keith Cooper says:

    Russ is showing off the newfangled raised floor in the Allen Center computer room. Recall that Allen Center housedva Burrougs computer for many years – used exclusively for financial and administrative computing.

  2. Richard A. Schafer says:

    Russ is using a suction cup tool to pull up a piece of raised flooring in what was probably a computer equipment room, although the only equipment I can see in the picture looks like some sort of mimeograph machine. The floor was raised up off the concrete subfloor to allow room to run cables. Cool air was also provided through vents in the floor in some places, although I don’t see any in the picture. At one point, I think the phone system for campus was in the basement of Allen Center, so this room might have been planned for that, instead of for computers.

    • mattnoall says:

      Raised floors are used to both provide a plenum area for cables, as well as an air flow volume for cold air. Cold air is typicall forced into the room via vents, or if you are using racks/cabiinents to hold equipment, via cutouts in the floor tiles that allow both air passage into the rack holding the electronics and entry/egress of cables. Wtih the latter method, you typically do not see othere cutouts/vents as that depletes the positive air pressure in the plenum and reduces coolling capacity. Interestingly (if you are a real geek about this stuff), telephone equipment temds to be stored in open frames rather than a closed cabinent. This allows the electronics to vent heat directly to the room, but since the stuff is open, you no longer have the option of forcing cold air through a vertical column, so the room itself must be the air plenum–the room has gott to be much colder itself. I am not sure which standard packaging approach the ROKM switch used.

      Computer gear is usually in the closed cabinent mode.

  3. Sandy Havens says:

    The Fine Arts studios were a source of some dismay for some of the more traditional administrators who had to make peace with sharing space with very non-traditional artists like Earl Staley and Bob Camblin whose paintings and life drawing classes were very much a presence on the third floor. It was usually a somewhat mixed crowd on the elevators. Many stories there.

    • Keith Cooper says:

      While the ROLM switch was in a (locked) room in the basement, the basement room never looked this good. Farrell is right that this room is the old Burroughs machine room on the second floor.

  4. effegee says:

    The computer room was on the second floor, west end. The various Burroughs computers that were located in Allen Center until the early 1990s were used solely for financial business systems and were part of the Comptroller’s Office. A staff entirely separate from RCS->RCC->ICSA->IT was responsible for them.

  5. The name tag says Mr. Eisenlohr was class of ’19. I just picked a random letter and he was going on and on about how much he missed his fianceé. On and on and on. Today we’d call that needy. And then he talked about squeezing some kind of bump on his earlobe. Today we’d call that TMI. Looked like he was living in the Milby Hotel instead of on campus. It was definitely a different world.

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  7. almadenmike says:

    The Woodson description of Otto’s letters to Gainor says that she died in 1938, and he married Nell Vaughn ~1942 ( So the “Mrs. Eisenlohr” in the above photo is surely Nell.

    Nell died in 2005, two months short of here 101st birthday:

  8. almadenmike says:

    BTW, Otto Hugo Eisenlohr was president of the Cotton Bowl in 1954, when Rice met (and defeated!) Alabama. His photo as one of the three Rice representatives is on page 39 of the game program:

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