A Proposal for Faculty Residences, 1948

The other day I ran across this plea for on-campus housing for faculty. In the aftermath of World War II, as both Houston and Rice rapidly expanded housing became a growing concern with respect to the recruitment and retention of faculty. This proposal was taken quite seriously by President Houston and the Rice trustees, who did an in-depth study of the possibilities:

As the memo correctly notes, the earliest general plans for campus included faculty housing. For example, here are a couple of 1909 drafts (both seem to have been drawn by Bertram Goodhue) which show faculty residences at the very front of campus:


And this more familiar looking 1910 plan was included in the Book of the Opening, produced after the Institute’s formal opening ceremonies in 1912:

I’m delighted, by the way, that the faculty were given tennis courts in all these drawings. Zoom in and you can see them clearly.

What surprised me about the proposal was its ending, that rather mournful feeling that even in 1948 the closeness of the Rice community seemed to be becoming a thing of the past. I feel something like that now and was touched to see that these men, who I like and respect, felt the same way. Strange indeed are the ties that bind.

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5 Responses to A Proposal for Faculty Residences, 1948

  1. Deborah Gronke Bennett (BSEE Hanszen 1982) says:

    I love the old plans. So many axes and alignments!

    I do note there is a “residential group” in one place, and a “women group” in another. Like the women were an afterthought?

  2. marmer01 says:

    Interesting that they call themselves “staff.” I guess the faculty vs. staff distinction was at a later time.

  3. marmer01 says:

    I’m guessing the massive suburban building boom coupled with the increasing availability of automobiles (which enabled the boom) put an end to this idea.

  4. Bob Casey 86 says:

    Did the footprint of the campus change back at the very beginning? The 1909 drafts seem to show a slight bend in Main St. before University, while the 1912 plan shows Main St. as a straight line, as it is today.

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