I can’t let 2022 slip away without acknowledging something that an alert reader pointed out to me a while ago. This year is the 75th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of Fondren library, just before Christmas in 1947. The construction of this building was part of the post-WWII explosion of growth on campus and a critical event in Rice’s maturation. Until Fondren was built books were scattered all over campus, on every floor of the Administration Building, in the Mech Lab, Chemistry, and Physics. I can’t even imagine how they managed it.
The cover of this fund raising brochure for the building, dated 1946, gives some sense of how important the project was to the university. Mrs. Ella Fondren, of course, generously donated most of the money needed to complete the work,
It took some time to get the thing up, of course. Here’s what it looked like at then end of the 1947-48 school year:
And the back side about the same time:
They didn’t start moving books until the summer of 1949 for the formal opening that fall. Here we are getting them out of the top floors of the Admin Building:
Bonus: What’s inside the cornerstone, you ask? (Note also the incredibly high powered Library Committee!)
Extra Bonus: The library never skimps on holiday decorations. Here’s this year’s Fondren Christmas tree.
One more bonus–it’s the holidays!
The last photo – is it taken from over the Sallyport, facing towards what is now Entrance 1?
It sure is.
During my 5 years at Rice (1964-1969), I lived off campus at night in a 2 car garage (next to 4012 Hazard) which my Dad had converted to a small apartment…but made Fronden library my “home” during the day and “appropriated” the first “single occupancy table located closest to the front entrance and kept it for the next 5 years.
During my free time during the day I would either go the RMC for lunch or coffee or to play pool or roam through Fondren’s magazine archives to find and read interesting articles. One of my favorite publication was “The Explicator”, which basically consists of short short “explications” of difficult or controversial passages of well known English poems, books etc.
When I think of Rice, I immediately think of Fondren and consider it to be my “adopted residential college”…instead of Hanszen. Every time I visit Rice, the first and often the only place I visit is Fondren Library. That’s why I remain a “friend of Fondren” for life.