As regular readers can probably tell, I’ve been very interested lately in the World War II era at Rice. A little while ago a researcher was working in the papers of Congressman Albert Thomas (’20) and so I too went through those boxes. In them I found the genesis of the Navy’s presence at the Institute–and the genesis of some long-gone buildings on campus, including the rifle range that we searched for a little while ago.
It was largely Thomas’s lobbying that got us this unit, the beginning of a huge boon that kept classrooms full for the entire duration of the war. This is a “note to file” from the spring of 1941. (As an aside, I got a chuckle out of this: “Uniforms worn only on drill days which are twice a week.” Thomas, of course, was a veteran of the Great Rice ROTC Uprising of 1918, which centered on student objections to inappropriate military discipline on campus, prominently including uniform regulations.)
What I’m really interested in here is the last sentence: “Rice agreed to construct some buildings for their use.” We find this expanded on in a newspaper clipping from later that summer, also in Thomas’s papers:
Temporary quarters would be in Room 208 of the Chemistry Building (Oh, how I love the specificity!) while workers rushed to complete the $18,000, single story, “modernistic” permanent facility. I was most surprised to learn that the building had been designed by William Ward Watkin. I did a quick search through his papers and found no reference to it, but there are quite a few other places to check.
Here it is:
I think the top one is the front but I really don’t know that.
Bonus: Faithful reader owlcop “took advantage of of contractors with a lift to take pictures of the tiny owl carved into the covered walk way between Lovett and Herzstein.”
I am a strong believer in taking this sort of advantage every time you can. Much appreciated, owlcop!