“Football Headquarters,” 1935

Football is having a pretty good year and tomorrow’s Homecoming game with Charlotte should be fun, but equally interesting is the nightly dancing in the terrace ballroom. I wish I could have seen that:

The Woodson is chock full of Rice Hotel related materials, by the way. I’ve mentioned the salary records for the staff before, but there’s also a Rice Hotel memorabilia collection that’s a view into another world, and a staggeringly dull collection of tax and land records with lots of information about the hotel that I’m sure would be interesting to someone who is not me.

Bonus: Beautiful day yesterday, rainy today, looks like another nice day for Homecoming tomorrow.

Extra Bonus: Happy Halloween from Fondren.

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Inauguration, 2022

It’s been really fun this last couple of weeks watching the campus prepare for this weekend’s inauguration of Reggie DesRoches as Rice’s eighth president. After several years of either no commencement or commencement in the football stadium things are all shined up and put in perfect order for the events. It looks beautiful, even if a bit disorienting without the Italian cypresses.

Event Magician Hannes Hofer at work:

Event Magician Kelly Quinn was also hard at it, apparently with Divine approval:

I’ll admit that I’m excited about this. Every change in presidential administration is a big deal but I believe that the next few years will be a particularly interesting time for us. I had the chance to interview President DesRoches for the most recent issue of Rice Magazine and his frank answers to some serious questions reveal an ambitious agenda as well as a real appreciation and respect for the unique nature of our close-knit campus culture.

You can read that interview here–and note the last paragraph! I hope he has a chance to sleep in when it’s all over.

Bonus: New banners have been hung around campus for the big event. If you’re here any time soon take a minute and give them a good look.  I think they’re wonderful and actually show us in our best light.

The symbolism of this one is striking. It’s the image of our newest president, displayed on one of the German High Hat lamp posts that are visible in photographs of Rice’s formal opening in 1912:

Extra Bonus:

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Kitchen Staff, 1965

Baker College, from the materials Gerald Moorhead gave to the archives last Spring. I’ll let these pictures speak for themselves:

The staff at Rice provides an astonishing amount of aid and comfort to both students and faculty, often with little recognition in return, then disappear from the memory of the institution as soon as they retire. There are no names on the back of the photos so I can’t say who were these people who brought us dinner.

Bonus: Thanks to an alert reader for this image of inauguration prep. Big tent going up in Founder’s Court.

 

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Faifax 1664, 1929

Something interesting happened soon after the offices of the Rice Institute moved to the Esperson Building (seen recently here). We got our first dial telephone!

I love the huffy tone of this letter but I do wonder why we needed an unlisted phone number.

Bonus: Inauguration prep! Since Covid we’ve gone several years without commencement prep so the cleanup is really needed.

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Rice University Volleyball, 1974

I attended my first college volleyball match last Sunday afternoon and was deeply impressed by the speed, power, and general athleticism of these young women. It was a great match, back and forth, between two very high level teams and really exciting to watch.

By coincidence just a couple of weeks ago I was asked to figure out the exact date of the genesis of Rice’s intercollegiate volleyball program. I found the answer in this three-fold brochure, preserved by sheer chance in a folder that’s part of the massive Athletics Collection. (Really, I can’t stress enough how unlikely it is that this still exists. There is nothing else at all about volleyball in the records from this time period.)

Inside is an interesting snapshot of a moment of cultural change at Rice. And to my specific task, the Capsule Outlook suggests that the beginning of intercollegiate volleyball competition at Rice dates to 1973, making next year the 50th anniversary:

 

Bonus: PE instructor Hally Beth Poindexter with the 1950 intramural volleyball champions.

Women’s intramural volleyball champions, Rice University

 

 

Extra Bonus: I can never be sad about a Rice win, but I also can’t help loving my Creighton Bluejays.  There was amazing Creighton fan support too, a bit surprising so far from home, but explained partly by the fact that one of our players has roots in Texas City.

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Cannady Hall Groundbreaking, 2022

Yesterday’s groundbreaking ceremony was a lot of fun. It was a nice afternoon, warm but not scorching. The speakers, including Will Cannady himself, were gracious and brief and the crowd was happy. I saw a lot of people I hadn’t seen in quite a while.

They also handed out a brochure about the new building that I thought was pretty interesting. The images give a decent idea of how the building will sit and I think it looks pretty nice. The only thing I’m not sure about is whether it will totally block out the light into the library:

 

Bonus:

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First Black Student Athletes at Rice

Next week Rice will be celebrating the contributions of the pioneering African American athletes who courageously entered the newly desegregated campus and the playing fields of the Southwest Conference. Information on the dinner and event is here: https://riceowls.com/news/2022/9/7/general-rice-to-celebratre-six-trailblazing-student-athletes.aspx

Come if you can.

Bonus: We had no photos of Leroy Marion until I found this image on eBay. It was taken in December, 1971 during a game against the Citadel.

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Tommy’s Last Day, 2022

This was probably inevitable:

My colleague and comrade in arms Tommy Lavergne did some amazing work over more than three decades as Rice Campus Photographer. A decent chunk of it (but far from all) is collected in 48 boxes in the Woodson. There’s other stuff of his scattered around the archives as well and who knows how much work in digital form. Take a look and check out the crazy variety of things he (and his colleague Jeff Fitlow) took pictures of over the years: https://txarchives.org/ricewrc/finding_aids/00542.xml

This collection arrived all at once, by the way, and in what is no doubt a shock to all of you, piled in boxes with no apparent organizing principle. I learned a tremendous amount in the process of figuring it all out and I use the collection at least once a week. It’s incredibly valuable as a portrait of the institution and its inhabitants as they evolved over the years. I’m deeply grateful for his work.

I’m also deeply grateful I got to hang around with him. He knows how to tell a story and  he was frequently in rooms where something very interesting was happening but no one was paying attention to him. You learn a lot that way. Also important–if he ever took a bad picture of me, he never let anyone see it.

Godspeed, my friend. Don’t be a stranger!

Bonus: He brought over one more small box before he left.

Here’s part of what was inside: pictures of Rice’s Louisiana timber land, the announcement of the formation of the Baker Institute, Nobel prize images, Malcolm Gillis in his office, campus architecture, centennial projects, and indeterminate negatives. I’m looking forward to this.

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The Niels Esperson Building, 1926

The Woodson recently acquired a scrapbook containing twenty-nine professional photographs of the Esperson Building in downtown Houston, newly completed in 1926:

At thirty-two stories it was then the tallest building in town and extremely ornate. Here are a couple of the images:

I’m guessing that’s a bust of Mr. Esperson in the entry:

And this chic woman could possibly be Mrs. Esperson:

Even the vault is impressive:

But the reason I’m interested in this scrapbook is a little less exciting. As soon as the building opened  the Rice Institute moved their offices here from the Scanlan Building:

I suspect that this more mundane image of one of the office corridors up on a higher floor is what it would have looked like as you walked down the hallway and approached our rooms:

Bonus: Speaking of offices, as soon as I saw this I regretted that I hadn’t thought of it myself.

 

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This Began As A Friday Follies Post Then Changed In The Middle, 1959

The picture I was going to use was one from the batch that loyal reader Karl Benson ’63 gave to the Woodson last December. But as I looked closer at some of the other images I was startled to find the answer to a tiny question that has nagged me for quite a while and that felt especially acute after the last post about commencement—when precisely did the parking lot in front of Lovett become a lawn?

If you go back and look that last post you can see that the area seems to be a well established lawn by the time of Pitzer’s inauguration in 1962 and it was still a parking lot in the spring of 1959. That’s not a huge gap, I guess, but I’ve always hoped to get closer than that.

So this is the image I found today, precisely dated, showing a newly planted lawn and reconfigured parking just before Thanksgiving, 1959. If you zoom in you can see guys still working near the building:

I am happy.

 

Bonus: This is what I started with. The combination of the caption and the look on her face made me smile.

Extra Bonus: O-Week shenanigans, sent in by a loyal reader. I’m not sure how they got it up there.

 

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