One afternoon last week—Friday, I think but I’m not certain—I was heading home by my usual route, which takes me through the stadium parking lot and past the football practice field. I saw these fellows as I turned the corner, pulled over and jumped out to take their pictures. Going about their business, they either didn’t notice me at all or decided that the smart thing to do was to ignore the strange lady with the camera.
What this means is that real work is about to begin on the new tennis facility. I think this is great, certainly needed and likely to give a big boost to one of Rice’s most successful sports in recent years. Also it’s named after George R. Brown, easily one of the most important figures in the modern history of the institution.
Still, it will be strange to have the courts all the way on the other side of the parking lot. For almost all of Rice’s history the tennis courts (at first they were the Men’s Tennis Courts, while the women had their own right next to the Administration Building where they could be properly supervised ) have been in roughly the same vicinity, just along the south loop road. You can see them in this 1921 aerial as a big white rectangle:
And here again in 1969:
Some new courts were added on the other side of the gym when Jake Hess Tennis Center was built in 1970. Then the rest of them were relocated to the back side of the gym much more recently. When? I can’t remember but I saw it happen. This image is from 2000 and they’re still there but it looks like their days are numbered:
Bonus: Those courts got a pretty good workout. This photo was taken in 1916. It’s hard to get a close look but I think they were clay:
And this one’s from the late 70s or early ’80s, I believe, based only on the length of the shorts:
The intramural tennis courts were moved to their current location in 2003. Part of the reason for the move was that we needed to make room for the “Overland Flow Channel”, better know today as the the Alumni Drive Extension. In addition to being a road this section serves to divert flood waters off the campus during heavy rains.
Incidentally, the courts are built on top of the Harris Gully. We had to get special permission from the City to put them there.
Yeah, I thought the tennis courts moved about the time Old Wiess was torn down. Note in the ’69 pic you can see the modernistic Hanszen commons that burned in ’76 or so.
The Hanszen Commons burned down in 1975, the same year that all the old sections of Hanzen, Will Rice and Baker were being renovated. Stacks of stored mattresses and a worker smoking were what led to the fire. I matriculated in 1976 when the brand new Hanzen Commons had just been completed.
I also noticed the sidewalk in front of the campus in picture 4. Too early for WPA, but I remember specifically that the sidewalk around the perimeter of the campus were marked WPA, with date, as I recall, although I don’t remember the date. Streets in the Heights and Bay City can also be found today with WPA markers.