The Road Behind the Chemistry Building

Somewhere back in the comments someone asked about a road open to automobile traffic behind the Chemistry Building. I can’t find the comment but if I recall correctly there were some questions about exactly where this road extended at various times. I looked around in some of the logical places but I never could discover even a trace of that road until just the other day. But here it is now, in all its glory, in a 1942 aerial shot taken by the Texas Air National Guard:

Road behind Chem summer 1942 texas Air National GuardIt’s kind of a funny little road–it doesn’t really go anywhere except around the building. It does look like there might be a few parking spaces at the northeast corner, but otherwise I guess it must have been arranged around access to the loading dock.

The reason I couldn’t find it in other aerial images is pretty simple: those little trees grew up and blocked the view. This picture is from the early ’50s (the stadium is very new and the Gaping Maw is still out there in the Stadium Lot) and it’s hard to tell if there’s still an operational road back there.

Road behind Chem early 50s

This photograph is a little bit later. It actually has a date on it: July 3, 1956. Here we get a better look at what’s going on with the ingress and egress to the main parking lot. Note that the road doesn’t come around the building and exit at the loop anymore. It’s hard to be sure, but I think there’s still a road there and I think you could drive across campus all the way from Main Street, take a left at Chemistry and then a right by the edge of the parking lot and come out on Rice Boulevard. Don’t hold me to this, though.

Road behind Chem July3 1956

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13 Responses to The Road Behind the Chemistry Building

  1. Don Johnson says:

    The 1950s aerials are interesting. It shows Anderson Hall connected by an arcade to Fondren. But to my eyes, the quad looks unbalanced. Nothing where Sewall and Rayzor are today. What was the architect’s reasoning in doing one side, then the other?

    • James Medford says:

      Anderson Hall is still connected by that arcade to Fondren, but Anderson was expanded in 1981, and so looks different from the air today than it did in these photos.

    • Mark Williamson says:

      The old plans did call for buildings on the other side. I don’t recall what was to go where Rayzor went eventually, but I heard that a chemistry building was supposed to balance the physics building — until somebody realized the prevailing breeze would carry fumes into the administration building.

      Some of the old plans were built on an “ever-widening vistas” theme where the first quad opened out into a larger quad, then a really large one, eventually closing back down somewhere in the vicinity of the current stadium. That went out the window when Fondren Library closed off the first quad.

  2. James Medford says:

    The first photo (1942) has one of the best views of Tony Martino’s rose garden on the site where Anderson Hall sits today.

  3. Ron Sass says:

    When I came to Rice in 1958 the road to the chemistry building was there for two reasons. It provided access to the loading dock for delivery trucks and it lead to parking spaces for professors of chemistry. Holmes Richter had the best of the parking spaces. The rest were fought over by the other members of the department. I never had one.

  4. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

    “July 3, 1956…
    Here we get a better look at what’s going on with the ingress and egress to the main parking lot. Note that the road doesn’t come around the building and exit at the loop anymore.”

    [During my years of 1952-56, the extension TO the ‘laboratory/loop road (LLrd.)’ OF today’s ‘Alumni Drive/Road/whatever (ADrd.)’ was closed — initially by a post-and-chain stopsign- which sometimes mysteriously disappeared on dark and stormy nights to reappear in unremembered male living quarters. The closure apparently became permanent by July 1956.]

    “It’s hard to be sure, but I think there’s still a road there …
    [I agree.]
    and I think you could drive across campus all the way from Main Street, take a left at Chemistry and then a right by the edge of the parking lot and come out on Rice Boulevard.”

    [NO, the Quadrangle-crossing road (QCrd.) had been deactivated by the time I arrived on campus in 1952. One could PROBABLY — ‘probably’ becauseI had been shown the door by July 1956– enter from Entrances at the eastern part of campus, drive around Lovett on LLrd., turn right at the east end of Chemistry Bldg,, loop around that bldg. and then turn right at the ADrd.

    [I have tried to use the names affixed to the various roads on a recent Rice Campus map.
    I hope they are correct; if not, I will return my 1956 beanie!]

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Thanks, Gene!
      And you can keep your beanie—I must confess that I have no idea what the names of these various campus roads are. They’re too bland to remember.

      • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

        And I must confess that I no longer have my ’56 beanie.
        I do still have my Freshman 1956 baseball numeral sweater though, and it’s as warm as ever.

  5. Deborah Gronke Bennett (BSEE Hanszen 1982) says:

    The last two photos also show my favorite tree, the one now located between Biology and Geology. In these photos it is out in the middle of the field where the buildings will be built decades later.

  6. Sigsby Rusk says:

    When I arrived at the campus in the fall of 1949 you could enter from Rice Boulevard, drive toward the Chemistry Building then turn left on the old road behind the building then turn right again to go all the way across the campus to Main Street. I remember standing at Rice’s statue waiting for traffic to subside so I could get back to the Physics building. I seem to remember that path existed until about sometime in 1952.

    • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

      Hello, S.R., it’s good to see another Institute Boy here.
      In your Rice halcyon years were you able to drive across the campus on a road behind Fondren Library, pass between West Hall on one side and East and South Halls on the other side and exit on Main St.?

  7. Pingback: Finally, Behind the Chemistry Building | Rice History Corner

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