About a year ago the Houston Endowment donated the papers of Jesse Jones to Rice and they are, of course, housed in the Woodson. (Click here for the Rice News story about the generous gift.) It took some time for the archivists to process the enormous collection and just about a week ago I finally had a chance to look closely at some of the boxes. I was drawn immediately to the photographs, which provide an immensely rich picture of the city of Houston as it evolved over several decades.
Here’s one that caught my eye and held it for several reasons, as you will surely see. It’s labeled “Texas Medical Center, 1967”:
I don’t even know how to begin speculating about the markings except to note with a smile the tract labeled “U of T 100 A.” That wasn’t the first thing I noticed, though. What jumped out at me was how much surface parking there used to be in the Med Center!
Once I calmed down I realized that the open space in the foreground is Rice. It’s interesting for two reasons. First, it’s a nice shot of the back end of the bleachers that were recently replaced at the track and soccer stadium. Even better is the tiny sliver of the entrance gate you can see towards the left of the photo. That’s one of the things that I’ve never been able to get a real handle on. At first that gate had a semicircle of hedges around it, as in this 1931 image:
Then at some point they tore out the hedges and built squared off brick gates that were pulled back from Main Street. That’s what you can just see a glimpse of in the Jones picture. I’m not sure when or why that happened, but this will eventually help me figure it out.