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:
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):
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:
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.
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.