Friday Follies: Blame it on the Scotch

Old Rice stadium, no date:

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Did USC Steal Our Library?

I don’t always do a good job of getting through all the emails and comments on my posts but I was intrigued by one from yesterday:

Melissa: Do you know if the old story is true, that the USC library was orginally designed by Ralph Adams Cram for Rice, but he sold the plans to USC because Rice didn’t have the funds?

Another commenter helpfully linked us to this photo of USC’s Doheny Library:

And here’s one taken head-on during the late 1940s:

It certainly does have a familiar look and frankly I wish it were ours. I’m particularly taken with the twin palms out front, which I’d be willing to bet Cram drew in the plans.

But while the family resemblance is powerful I feel fairly sure it was designed specifically for the place it’s in. We do have a 1927 drawing of a proposed library for Rice that is substantially different although in the same style:

As for the financial issue, in 1927 Rice had just completed the expensive Chemistry Building. The trustees in those days were extremely cautious about spending money and they likely wanted to wait a bit before beginning the next project. Unfortunately, a Depression broke out in the meantime. There wouldn’t be another academic building constructed on campus until the end of World War II.


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This Didn’t Happen

I came across this very early postcard recently, although I can’t currently remember where:

I’m sure you all can instantly see the thing that didn’t happen:

It’s probably just as well. It’s bit much.





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“his memory will live in the annals of our Institute,” 1913

After all these years there are still so many surprises. I mentioned last fall that I had recently come across a real shocker: a scrapbook kept by the first Rice business manager, Arthur Cohn, dated from 1907 to 1926. One of the small  wonders contained therein is this note from Louise Raphael, the widow of Emmanuel Raphael, to his colleagues on the Rice Institute board after her husband died in April, 1913:

Emmanuel Raphael was a close friend and advisor of William Marsh Rice and was, in fact, the first person Rice asked to become a trustee of the new school he proposed to found in Houston. He was born in Birmingham, England, in 1847 and came with his family to Galveston when he was about twelve, moving soon to Houston where his father Samuel served as rabbi for Congregation Beth Israel. He quickly rose to both business and social prominence as head cashier at the Houston Savings Bank and President of Houston Light and Power among other business ventures.

In accordance with Rice’s wish, Raphael became the secretary of the Rice Board of Trustees and was an influential presence in the years immediately following Mr. Rice’s death, traveling around the country and touring a wide variety of educational enterprises, gathering ideas as the board tried to decide how best to proceed. Raphael also served as the head of what today would be called a search committee for the first president of the Institute.

So why was this sad and touching note tucked away in Mr. Cohn’s scrapbook? I think because Louise Raphael was his sister.

Bonus: Yet another rainy day.

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The Slime Struggle, 1925

I got a lot of response to the post last week about Lee’s Owls and I had a few free moments this afternoon so I stopped to think what else we might have about them in the Woodson. A quick peek into a scrapbook turned up immediate results, an invitation to one young Mr. Craig C. Watkins to the Lee’s Owl dances:

I’m not sure whether Craig Watkins actually graduated from Rice but boy, he sure went to a lot of dances. His orderly scrapbook is completely full of dance cards and programs. Completely.

Here’s a beauty–the dance card for the Slime Struggle held at Autry House in February, 1925:

The names of the dances are clearly meant to evoke the pain of the freshman state, particularly “Grab Ankles,” which I believe explains itself:

Almost the only thing in the scrapbook that isn’t a dance card is this photograph. I don’t know which one–if either–is Watkins:


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Friday Follies: There’s One in Every Crowd

It must have been 1916-17 but other than that I really don’t know what this is all about:


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What’s Better Than a Banjo?, circa 1925

A banjo PLUS whatever that thing is:


These are Lee’s Owls, a popular dance band at Rice functions in the 1920s and I’m guessing that’s some kind of Chinese lute in front of the banjo player.

Bonus: Spotted recently in the new band hall.


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