Not long ago a patron was in the Woodson doing research in the papers of architect Ralph Anderson. I had known of the existence of this collection and even been aware that Anderson was a Rice grad but I’d never had any particular reason to have these papers brought over from the Library Service Center. But with no effort on my part there they were, sitting on a book truck in the back room, so I dug in to them. Anderson had quite a career–quite a life, really–and it’s a great collection. (The guide to the collection, along with a short biography, is here.) What initially caught my eye was this, a 1947 letter to Anderson from Rice trustee Harry Wiess:
Well, that’s extremely high praise from an astute critic, high enough that I got up and went looking for the Fondren Library booklet that Wiess was talking about. It is a lovely thing; open, light and so very optimistic. Here are a couple of Anderson’s drawings:
I had been assuming that Anderson was on the architecture faculty at this time but as I began to put the dates together I was startled to realize that he was a student. And then, as I worked through the rest of the files I discovered something even more remarkable. Five years earlier, before his military service and even before he received his B.A., Anderson had designed several houses that were built on the east side of town. They’re small but I think they’re quite graceful. This simple house is my favorite:
And here’s another. Pretty strong work for an undergraduate:
Yep, Ralph A. Anderson was quite a guy. When I started at the Shepherd School, the checkout kiosk at the Alice Pratt Brown Fine Arts Library still looked like that. There were also still cork floors.
That drawing of the music room shows it exactly as it was when I was a student there (67-71) and worked there later (71-73 and 75-77). At least, it’s exactly as I remember it.
I still remember that music room and its listening booths with great fondness. I spent quite a few hours there, both listening to music and talking to the person (whose name has vanished from my memory, unfortunately) who ran the music library.
I wonder if either of those houses still exist. Will have to take a look.
Per HCAD, the house at 4141 Glenbrook Court was built in 1941, so it’s still there. The street view on Google Maps shows that it’s been modified a bit since the 1941 photo was taken.
Here’s a link to the StreetView: http://goo.gl/maps/nsV0X
And a closeup: http://goo.gl/maps/QQoqJ
Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Thanks, Ralph Anderson.
Would the music librarian have been Ralph Hollibaugh?
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