The Deed to the Campus, 1908-10

While I was on vacation this summer the Rice Management Company was getting ready to move off campus. As so often happens this led to the rediscovery of things long filed away and forgotten. This time, gloriously, what bubbled up the the surface were the deeds by which Rice acquired the pieces of land that became our campus.

Well, this is just fantastic. There’s nothing like a land deed for details, details, and more details, allowing me to check what I think I know against the actual documents. They’re all there except one, which I’ll get to in a minute.

The big purchase, of course, was a 95 acre tract belonging to George Hermann:

And the smallest was eight acres from Charles Weber and his wife, Johanna, who signed with an X. She was questioned alone by the notary to be sure that she freely consented to the sale. I’ve talked about this sale before here, basing my numbers on the recollections of longtime bursar John McCants, which turn out to have been very close.

Weber’s price works out to $6,350 per acre; Hermann’s comes to $217 per acre.

These deeds also gave me clarity on something that I had mixed up. The last major piece of campus land that Rice acquired (for which there is no deed in this file) was the five acre Fraternity Home Addition Property, which we bought in 1921, For some reason I had been thinking that this was the site of the gunpowder factory. That’s just plain wrong, as we can see from this deed from the Equitable Powder Manufacturing Co. (a precursor of Olin Corporation), which transferred just over two acres to the Institute in 1909:

This is a great find and I’m grateful to the Rice Management Company folks for bringing these to their proper home.

Bonus: Cohen House kitchen.

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2 Responses to The Deed to the Campus, 1908-10

  1. Steve Lukingbeal, Hanszen ‘76 says:

    Well, if the campus had to house a gunpowder manufacturing company, at least it was an “equitable” one.

  2. marmer01 says:

    I would like to have about one dozen of those “close the doors and be quiet” signs.

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