Harper Leiper Aerials, 1950

I was looking through a box from the Campus Photographer Collection, one near the end that was full of relatively recent material. Then I noticed a folder labeled “Harper Leiper Order Book.” I was surprised because Harper Leiper was a fairly prolific commercial photographer in Houston in an earlier era: most of the things that I’ve seen have been roughly from the ’50s to the ’70s.

When I opened the folder and saw this binder my heart skipped a beat:

Harper Leiper 1   052

Well,unfortunately there wasn’t a lot in there. The three aerials it did contain, though, are just beautiful. They were taken in late 1950 and they are sharp and clear and very, very interesting. Zoom in and take a close look–all of them are worth some time. In particular, the first two have really nice views of the old stadium, which would soon be demolished. The second one also features my favorite Rice geographical feature, the gaping maw of the unenclosed gully in the stadium parking lot.

Harper Leiper 3 aerial 1950   054

Harper Leiper 2 aerial 1950   053


Harper Leiper 4 aerial 1950   055

But the most surprising thing in the folder wasn’t one of these images. Rather, it was a list–a very short one, perhaps (or perhaps not) the first page of a longer inventory–of photos held in the archives in the summer of 1954:

Harper Leiper Rice photo inventory 1954   056

I’m sure everyone remembers this discussion of the efforts to start the archives in 1950, but this painful memo from a dozen years later suggests that things hadn’t progressed in a wholly satisfactory manner:

Archives 1962 Croneis memo

So it may well be that by 1954 the library held a pretty paltry collection of photographs. But they were out there, hiding in drawers and file cabinets and attics and people kept bringing them in until there are now more than I can ever give due attention to.

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8 Responses to Harper Leiper Aerials, 1950

  1. Stan Bullington says:

    I thought I had seen that first photo before. You posted it back in July 2011 (http://ricehistorycorner.com/2011/07/27/general-holiday/). It’s a great shot. It also includes Houston’s storied Shamrock Hotel.

  2. Melissa Kean says:

    See what I mean? There are so many I can’t possibly keep track.

  3. Bill Johnson '57, '58 says:

    Does the third picture show the tower of the Bonner Lab accelerator? Not visible in the first two.

    • rusk49 says:

      Yes, That is the Bonner Lab in the third photo. It was finished in 1953 I think. I was in the first group of grad students to use the Van deGraaf in 1953.

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

        The building of the Van deGraaf was present when I first visited the Rice Campus in early 1952, prior to entering the Institute. I did NOT enter the building so knew NOTHING of the interior at that time.
        (I also knew NOTHING of almost anything at that time, and have remained remarkably consistent subsequently)

  4. joecwhite says:

    The first aerial photo above had to have been taken at an earlier point than the third: in the former, the shopping center at Kirby and Holcombe is just an empty lot except; in the latter, it is completed and apparently open with lots of cars.

    Also, does anyone know what the large building was that is pictured on the north side of Holcombe between Greenbriar and Morningside?

  5. Charles says:

    Would it be possible to post higher resolution images of those aerial shots? I would like to look at them in more detail.

  6. Pingback: HMRC Thursday: The Whole Southwest Side of Campus, Wide Open, 1959 | Rice History Corner

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