I don’t always do a good job of getting through all the emails and comments on my posts but I was intrigued by one from yesterday:
Melissa: Do you know if the old story is true, that the USC library was orginally designed by Ralph Adams Cram for Rice, but he sold the plans to USC because Rice didn’t have the funds?
Another commenter helpfully linked us to this photo of USC’s Doheny Library:
And here’s one taken head-on during the late 1940s:
It certainly does have a familiar look and frankly I wish it were ours. I’m particularly taken with the twin palms out front, which I’d be willing to bet Cram drew in the plans.
But while the family resemblance is powerful I feel fairly sure it was designed specifically for the place it’s in. We do have a 1927 drawing of a proposed library for Rice that is substantially different although in the same style:
As for the financial issue, in 1927 Rice had just completed the expensive Chemistry Building. The trustees in those days were extremely cautious about spending money and they likely wanted to wait a bit before beginning the next project. Unfortunately, a Depression broke out in the meantime. There wouldn’t be another academic building constructed on campus until the end of World War II.