I’m back from vacation, tanned, rested, and fabulous. I was back in the Woodson today looking for a needle in the haystack of the early board records. I didn’t find what I was hoping to (not finished yet, though) but I did notice something that had escaped my attention on earlier jaunts through these documents. I even know why I missed it–the last time I looked at this material I hadn’t yet conceived an interest in the various location of Rice’s business offices. I last wrote about this very recently, only a few weeks ago, after I found the 1948 notice that our general offices had moved from the Esperson Building to campus for the first time, but I’ve discussed our earlier office situation in the Scanlan Building as well.
It turns out I missed a lot and hadn’t thought very hard about what I did know. So I’ll try again. When the Rice Institute was chartered it didn’t have much of a physical presence for a long time. There was a six acre property downtown with a caretaker’s building on it but no office. The board met in the offices of the South Texas National Bank to handle what little Institute business there was. It was only after William Marsh Rice’s death and the end of the litigation that followed that they needed a headquarters for the Institute. Here’s the 1907 minute that records it:
This is the Houston Land and Trust Building and its surrounding buildings in 1913. This intersection, Main and Franklin, was the center of the city’s banking and legal community with several big banks within a stone’s throw of each other, including the Commercial Bank right across the street , where Baker, Botts, Parker and Garwood then had their offices. A good address, in other words, and convenient for Captain Baker:
The next surprise was that they moved offices not even two years later–across the street to the Commercial Bank Building, and a better deal too:
My final surprise of the day was the discovery that the office in the Scanlan Building was just for Dr. Lovett and his assistant, not for general university business.
That’s enough mistakes for right now. I’ll have better luck tomorrow, I’m sure.
Bonus: Physical distancing? Not a problem.