“Mess Hall . . . increased in length,” 1939

I’m getting ready to feed a bunch of people over here so this seems as good a time as any to break out this article about the expansion of the dining hall from the November 1939 issue of the Owl Magazine. Note that everyone who lived on campus could now fit into the commons!

I also had squirreled away this great image of the student waiters. It’s not dated and there aren’t a lot of clues but I found it with other things from the late 1930s and I’m prepared to believe that:

There aren’t very many photographs of the original room that I can show you for comparison but I do have a couple at hand. This first one is from 1920:

Baker College Dining Hall interior, Rice Institute

The next one is pretty fuzzy but it’s also very early. It’s dated 1912 and believe it or not I can recognize several individuals, both students and faculty. There were already bitter complaints about the quality of the food.

Rice Institute Commons, dining area

Bonus: This is the inside of the walls during the 2011 renovation of the commons. The piece in the middle seems to be part of the original building.

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8 Responses to “Mess Hall . . . increased in length,” 1939


    Hi Melissa – so this room is no longer around? Fun to read! Happy Thanksgiving, Betsy Wittenmyer

    Betsy G. Wittenmyer

    LeBoeuf & Wittenmyer, P.C. Legal Assistant

    11757 Katy Freeway, Suite 1300 Houston, Texas   77079 Telephone: (713) 463-5422 Facsimile: (713) 463-5423

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Yes, it’s still very much here. They did a pretty big restoration job right before the centennial. They took it down to the bare walls, which is what you see in the picture, then sent the panelling off for cleaning and refinishing and then reinstalled it. It looks great.

    • Francis Eugene "Gene" Pratt, Rice Institute 1956 says:

      Melissa, hi.
      Happy Turkeys.
      Is the Class year of the correspondents on this site shown somewhere?
      If not, I would suggest encouraging OWLS, to add their Class Years to their “names”. I would like to be able to ID them somewhat chronologically.
      (Sorry about that awkward sentence; I was trying to NOT split that infinitive.)
      Thank you most kindly.

      • Melissa Kean says:

        That would be helpful for me too!

      • Galloway Hudson '60 says:

        You succeeded admirably, Gene, at least in the first instance. “To somewhat chronologically ID them” would have been the mother of all split infinitives.

        • Francis Eugene "Gene" Pratt, Rice Institute 1956 says:

          Thank you.
          I have been vindicated and recognized, winning me another slice of the pie.

          “…at least in the first instance.”
          I saw that — and wondered if it commented upon would be.
          (I do NOT end sentences with prepositions. Moreover, 2 years of Deutsch makes me think like that sometimes.)

  2. vkbenson says:

    We were required to wear coats and ties to the Sunday “noonday” meal in the college commons as late as 1962. One slime at each table functioned as a waiter for that table.

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