Where The Heck Is This?? (With Musicians)

One of my colleagues was recently working with some Campanile photos from the 1980s. I had a couple of good laughs (category: facial hair) but then was stopped in my tracks by two shots of the Shepherd School faculty. The first one, dated 1983, is in an unremarkable room, but there’s a small stage in it:

Shepherd School partial faculty 1983


I have no idea where that was — it could be absolutely anywhere but it kind of feels basement-ish to me. But the next one, taken in 1987 in what looks to be the same cramped room, only deepens my usual confusion. Windows! Are those really windows on the left?

Shepherd SChool 1987 unknown room


I’m not even going to try to figure this out myself.

Where is this?

And while we’re at it, does anyone know what became of the screen at the back?

Bonus: L1000508


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16 Responses to Where The Heck Is This?? (With Musicians)

  1. Another one for me. This is what we called Milford House, an old mansion at the corner of Milford and Bayard. It had a commercial kitchen and small recital hall built behind it, and the Asian screen was used as a definer of the stage. When the Shepherd School moved into Alice Pratt Brown Hall, we sold Milford House to the Italian Cultural and Community Center, and they still occupy it. It had bedrooms upstairs that were converted into teaching studios for three faculty members, a downstairs parlor, a kitchen and living room for receptions, and that recital and meeting room. My _first_ recital as a student was at Milford House; my _second_ was at Kyle Morrow Room, so I’m two for two in Rice History Corner! More to follow.

    • almadenmike says:

      The Woodson’s Historical Note for the papers of the Womans’ Building of Houston/Milford House (https://library.rice.edu/collections/WRC/finding-aids/manuscripts/0388#ref3) make no mention of any Rice ownership.

      “In 1925, seventeen Houston women gathered to discuss the creation of a special building that would serve as a cultural and social center for Houston women. After years of planning, they announced a drive for the necessary $300,000 in 1928. … The funds grew steadily, but the drive lost momentum over following two decades. In 1949, 39 of the 330 official members met to discuss the possibility of dissolving the organization. The members voted to continue the drive, and on Wednesday, November 11, 1953, Milford House was officially opened with a musicale and a tea. Milford House, officially operated by the Woman’s Building of Houston, hosted many cultural and social events for women over the next two decades. The club membership dwindled in the 1980’s, and Milford House, located at 1101 Milford, was sold to the Italian Cultural and Community Center of Houston in 1988. The club was disbanded shortly after.”

      BTW, the house, identified by the preservation community as the John G.
      Logue House, was designed by William Ward Watkin,

  2. marmer01 says:

    1983 staff picture:

    L to R: L. E. Miles, Milford House caretaker from when it belonged to a local musical club (like the Tuesday Musical Club, I don’t remember exactly.) Gary Smith, Shepherd Society liaison, now Associate Dean, Liz Yeates, reception, now Executive Secretary, Iris Goggin, Undergraduate Secretary, Karen Kronenberger, Graduate Secretary, Ken Dye, Band, not sure — maybe Library?
    In front: Charlotte Hendrickson, Financial Secretary, Gloria Weems, Dean’s Executive Assistant, and I don’t know the other one.

    1987 faculty/staff picture: (Why am I not in this picture? Did I take it?)

    L to R, Back: L.E Miles, George Lynn (chorus), Wayne Crouse (viola), Bill Chaisson (piano), Tom Littman (Concert Office), Richard Pickar (clarinet), Clyde Holloway (organ), Ellsworth Milburn (composition), I don’t remember the next guy’s name but he taught jazz history and ethnomusicology on a visiting appointment, Dean Michael Hammond, Walter Bailey (musicology), Anne Schnoebelen (musicology), David Waters (trombone), Paul Ellison (bass)
    Middle: George Burt (composition), Ray Fliegel (violin), Sergiu Luca (violin), Richard Brown (percussion), Charles Sepos (composition), Beatrice Rose (harp), Charlotte Hendrickson (Financial Secretary)
    Front: Shirley Trepel (cello), Virginia Babikian (voice), John Perry (piano) Gloria Weems (Dean’s Executive Assistant), Paul Cooper (composition) Albert Tipton (flute), Mary Norris (piano), Karen Kronenberger (Graduate Secretary), Jeannette Lombard (voice), David Kirk (tuba), Marcia Citron (musicology), Lynn Griebling (voice), Anthony Addison (opera). There are several staff members who are missing, not sure why. Gary Smith, Liz Yeates, and myself, for example. I joined the staff in summer, 1985. These were my people and I’m still very close to many of them. And, sadly, we’ve lost quite a few since then.

    • The woman in the center of the top picture has now been identified by my longtime colleagues as Mary Ann Lynch Kurtz, who actually managed Milford House. She was the wife of conductor Efrem Kurtz, and was gone by the time I joined the staff. The man at the far right is Dean Corwin, who may have been the music librarian. The man next to Dean Hammond in the second picture is Dwight Andrews, who was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow with us for a year. The timetable posted by almadenmike is correct; we actually sold Milford House to the Italians in 1988 and they allowed us to use it for the next few years until Alice Pratt Brown Hall opened in 1990/1991. We also had a house on Chaucer Street for a couple of years with a similar arrangement where the upstairs rooms were faculty teaching studios, although there wasn’t an attached recital hall. Milford House is where I stepped on a rusty nail on a piece of siding that had fallen off in 1988 and revealed to my future wife, then fiancee, just how squeamish I was as I was afraid to take off my shoe to see how bad it was. Turned out to be pretty minor but I had to get a tetanus shot. Fortunately, she married me anyway. For those who are curious, here is the space disposition of the Shepherd School in spring 1990:

      Sewall Hall: a handful of faculty offices; third-floor classrooms
      Herman Brown Hall: faculty offices and practice rooms in the basement
      Fondren Library: faculty and staff offices and main School office on the fifth floor
      Occasional performances or presentations in Kyle Morrow Room.
      RMC: Chapel for organ and early music concerts, occasional concerts in the Grand Hall
      Hamman Hall: concerts and rehearsals on stage and percussion and bass studios in the basement
      Bonner Lab: rehearsals and recitals in the old cyclotron room converted to a rehearsal hall
      Milford House: three teaching studios upstairs, reception area and recital hall
      Chaucer House: two teaching studios upstairs, rehearsal room downstairs
      We also performed occasionally in hotel ballrooms and nearby churches, particularly St. Paul’s Methodist (Messiah Sing-Along) and First Presbyterian (chorale concerts), and a lot of one-time things like a Bach B Minor Mass at First Methodist downtown and the fireworks “choreography” for the opening of the George R. Brown Convention Center.

      The Convention Center opening is the first time I ever saw people walking around talking on phones connected to bags slung over their shoulder. Looked expensive…

      • almadenmike says:

        Did Rice actually buy Milford House, or did the Shepherd School merely have access to it? The Woodson’s Historical Note (posted above) implies that the Woman’s Building club bought the house in the early 1950s and sold it to the Italian Cultural and Community Center in 1988. There’s no mention of Rice ownership.

  3. marmer01 says:

    I’m pretty sure the screen stayed at Milford House and never came to Alice Pratt Brown Hall.

  4. Well, I was never in Milford House, so I was blank on that, (and my musical career at Rice was entirely with the MOB) but the bonus shot looks like the high bay ceiling in Ryon Lab.

  5. Melissa Kean says:

    Thanks, guys. Every bit of this is news to me.

  6. Barney L. McCoy says:

    I have a special fondness for that house. My daughter Zoe and her husband Jeff had their wedding reception there after being married at the Live Oak Friends Meeting House.
    Barney L. McCoy, Hanszen 67

  7. marmer01 says:

    I thought that the Woman’s Building organization donated it to Rice in the late 70’s or early 80’s but I don’t know for sure. It’s certainly possible that there was some kind of usage agreement that I, being a young undergraduate at the time, wouldn’t have known.

    • almadenmike says:

      You’re correct, Marty. I searched a bit more just now and found this more-complete history of the home and its owners: http://douglassmithcustomhomes.com/restore_italianhistory.htm This article doesn’t have specific date on which Rice took ownership (which should be easy enough to find in city land records), but does indicate that the club donated the building to Rice:

      “… On November 11, 1953, the refurbished building, with splendid antique furnishings and modern facilities, reopened as Milford House for the street on which it was located. For the next twenty or more years it operated in the same capacity as a country club, with lectures, concerts, weddings, dances and luncheons, and was considered a landmark of the cultural and social life of the city.

      “When, due to members’ age and lack of younger involvement, the club had to dissolve, the ladies donated their property to Rice University with the understanding that it would be used for the Shepherd School of Music.

      “Unfortunately, the property did not fit the needs of the School, which used it for faculty meetings, professors’ studios and for occasional recitals, but never really considered it as its seat and, therefore, never invested any money in its upkeep. In the summer of 1988 Rice University and the Shepherd School for Music made public plans of building an imposing new facility on the campus and started fund-raising for that purpose. The Milford House was not put up for sale but when Rice University received an offer from the Federation, they started negotiating. …

      “On October 21, 1988 The Federation of Italian-American Organizations of Greater Houston purchased, for $375,000, a property at 1101 Milford, known as Milford House, which would become the home of the Federation offices and its Italian Cultural Center.”

  8. Yes, that matches with my understanding. There were a few of the women associated with the club who were also members of the Shepherd Society, the School’s volunteer scholarship fundraising and support group. That may have been the connection. I did a brief search in county records but couldn’t find a definite transfer date. There are a lot of different ways that Rice and the “Womans Bldg” are listed in the online records so it is difficult to search fully, and I really didn’t have time to pursue it. Some of the antiques from Milford House are at the President’s House now.

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