Aerial Looking Southwest, 1948

My pulse quickened a bit when I first saw this:

Go ahead, zoom in on it and take a close look. I spent over an hour this afternoon staring at it. It’s a very rare angle from relatively close range and it’s also an exceptionally sharp image. It’s undated but I think it must have been taken in the summer of 1948. Abercrombie is just about finished, Fondren a little bit behind.

I hardly know where to start. We can get a clear look at, among other things, the NROTC building behind the power plant, the original back of the Chemistry Building, the engineering annex, multiple unidentified sheds, the old fieldhouse, and the stables tucked off in the woods. I’m less clear about the buildings across Main Street. Any help identifying which is which would be appreciated.

For comparison, here’s another shot from roughly the same angle taken two years earlier in 1946. It’s not as sharp and was taken from farther away but putting it next to the one above vividly tells the tale of the post-war expansion:


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18 Responses to Aerial Looking Southwest, 1948

  1. marmer01 says:

    Kenneth Franzheim’s Hermann Professional Building would be completed in early 1949, so your 1948 date sounds good. Ye Olde College Inn is visible across from the fieldhouse. Someone who could put their hands on a Polk Directory from then ought to be able to identify the other 6000 Main-ish things.

  2. marmer01 says:

    There appears to have been a Ye Olde College Inn, with identical graphics, in New Orleans. Coincidence, or connection?

  3. Two things strike me. One, the foresight of the founders to have acquired such a large parcel of land. Two, convenient parking!

  4. There is an odd structure just west of where the Student Center now resides that looks like a cooling tower, but why would a cooling tower be located there? Nothing nearby at that time.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I just plain don’t know what that is.

      • marmer01 says:

        It’s a cooling tower for sure. Was Fondren the first building built on campus to be air-conditioned? I should know that, but I’ll bet it (and the President’s House) was/were. In that case, it could be a cooling tower for Fondren, placed far away to minimize the then unusual noise.

        • Philip Walters says:

          The apparent tower is located right by the route of the tunnel that served the RMC when it was built. That tunnel turned and headed East along the road toward the main tunnel from the power plant, and the tunnel that served Fondren and Anderson teed off to the south, roughly along the present sidewalk behind Fondren. If that west tunnel was already there, the tower could have connected to Fondren via tunnel rather directly. Too bad I never looked carefully at the wall or overhead in that spot in detail. It would be interesting to see if there was evidence of an old connection there. I wonder if this structure shows up in any later photos.

  5. Michael Bludworth says:

    It looks like the Shamrock Ball Room is at the very upper right…which means that the Shamrock Hotel is there…I see cars in a lot and a road leading in…would make it 1949.Michael

    From: Rice History Corner To: Sent: Monday, March 5, 2018 4:22 PM Subject: [New post] Aerial Looking Southwest, 1948 #yiv2346651295 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2346651295 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2346651295 a.yiv2346651295primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2346651295 a.yiv2346651295primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2346651295 a.yiv2346651295primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2346651295 a.yiv2346651295primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2346651295 | Melissa Kean posted: “My pulse quickened a bit when I first saw this:Go ahead, zoom in on it and take a close look. I spent over an hour this afternoon staring at it. It’s a very rare angle from relatively close range and it’s also an exceptionally sharp image. It’s un” | |

  6. marmer01 says:

    For buildings on Main Street, look at the Facebook thread about this post, where I will post scans from the 1947 Polk Directory.

  7. Sigsby Rusk says:

    I think your 1948 date is right on. When I got there in late August 1949 books were being moved into Fondren and I remember as a gangly awestruck freshman that Sarah Lane kindly gave me a private tour of the ground floor. One of the buildings across Main and near University street is Bill Williams restaurant, which kept me alive on weekends when I needed a break from Mrs. Patterson’s boarding house on Bolsover. Over the next four years I got the other half of my education browsing through Fondren on stolen time for subjects not involved in my courses. Until I got there the only library I had seen was in a small room in the county courthouse in Sinton. I could hardly believe my eyes on that first tour. The snack bar in the basement was also important for me.

  8. effegee says:

    Bill Williams is the building across Main Street from the oval track south of University. The street just beyond (south of) BW is today’s Dryden.

    If you follow Main Street south, it appears to stop in vicinity of today’s intersection with Old Spanish Trail. At least the divided boulevard vanishes around there.

  9. The earlier photo (1946) shows my favorite tree. It stands between Bio and Geo today, at the ends nearest the stadium. In the 1946 photo, it stands magestically alone in the empty fields west of Mech E and Chemistry. It is interesting to note the pattern of trees in the large field that would become the Hamman Hall lawn, then have buildings built on it more recently. I wonder how closely the position of the buildings now corresponfpds with those groves of trees in the 1940’s.

  10. Bill Johnson '57-'58 says:

    There was a bowling alley along there that burned during the night about Spring 1954? I remember that the sirens were a good demonstration of the doppler effect. I could also get a Saturday evening plate of chicken gizzards at Bill Williams for 99 cents with biscuits and honey. Sure made the budget easier. The old College Inn was way too expensive.

  11. vkbenson says:

    If memory serves (questionable, these days!) the first building south of Hermann Professional (with the tower) was Youngblood’s Chicken, and the small shack two buildings further south was the Someburger. As slimes, we had to make “shack runs” to Someburger to satisfy upper classmen’s late night hunger. Also, note the ragged condition of the cypress trees on the quad in both photos.

  12. grungy1973 says:

    There appear to be lights on the baseball field that’s standing in for Methodist Hospital.
    Little League, or something like it?
    Rice’s field has no lights…

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