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The Buildings of Sam Houston State University documents the changes of the SHSU campus in Huntsville, Texas from its inception in 1879 through tomorrow. The Brick and Mortarboard presents news and commentary about the buildings, the people, and the history of SHSU. Stay informed and impress your friends.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Inaugural Founders Day To Celebrate 135 Years Of Academic Success

Today@Sam says that SHSU will celebrate its 135 years with the inaugural Founders Day celebration on Saturday, April 26:
Founders Day will allow alumni, friends and faculty to reconnect through a day of interactive panels, a luncheon at the Peabody Library and will provide a unique opportunity to “grow” a new tradition.

The event will end following a tree dedication ceremony at 2:45 p.m., during which a Catalpa sapling, grown from seeds from second-generation Houston-owned Catalpa trees, will be planted by Austin Hall.

Legend says that Margaret Houston planted two Catalpa trees on the property of the Woodland Home, their family’s house in Huntsville—one symbolizing her, and the other representing her husband. While General Houston spent time in Washington as a state senator, the couple would send letters to each other professing their love and devotion; Margaret would often fold a Catalpa leaf and place it in the letter she would send her husband, as if she were sending him a heart-shaped Valentine.

Capping off the celebration, many alumni and friends will leave Founders Day with a Catalpa sapling as a memento of the day, a reminder of the university’s rich past and sign of its promising future.
More information:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Writing on the Wall

It’s time for yet another look-see around the SHSU campus. We can do it...you can do it, too.  Can you identify the building or location where we took the photos that make up the former buildingshsu masthead? As usual, here is your letter and its haiklu:

Long gone, so long gone
Standing in the shadow, yea
Score 'twixt sun and sun

McKinney Tract Sought to Expand Campus

There’s a feature article at Today@Sam with the latest in the "McKinney Tract" acquisition soap-opera and the startling revelation discovered only recently. First some background on the university’s recent push to annex the land:
It is generally believed [Vice President of Appropriation] Hal Whenten first read about the property in a Houstonian article that appeared last December as part of the paper’s centennial celebration.

Though the city of Huntsville reportedly knew of no such property, Whenten reportedly attended a number of city council meetings earlier in the year to drum up support for the university’s pending bid.

Whenten’s memorable address during the last (March 18) Huntsville City Council meeting included his exposition on the tribulations of a land-locked campus and the delivery of “signed and notarized documents, prospective maps, and copies of government code regulations” as well as other ephemera that expounded on the university’s decision to acquire the land “at any cost” – be it through either purchase, condemnation, eminent domain, compulsory resumption, or subliminal persuasion techniques.

Andrew "Andy" T. McKinney, believed to be the landowner, has yet to come forward to confirm the status of his property.

Recent developments from late yesterday:
Whenten apologized for the confusion when it was revealed the “McKinney Tract” was roughly a twelve acre parcel of land centralized around main campus – including a prominent sloping, grassy hill south of the current Estill Building – that the university has owned since April 1913.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

SHSU Counseling Center Understaffed, Overcrowded

The Tuesday March 25 edition of the Houstonian discusses the overcrowded Counseling Center and the excitement the new Health and Counseling Center brings:
The Sam Houston State University Counseling Center currently has a two-week long waiting list to see students as the result of the understaffed, overcrowded office. While SHSU’s counseling center should have 12 therapists based on this ratio, it only has seven, making the actual ratio roughly one therapist for every 2,714 students.

According to Miller, the new Counseling Center building should be completed in late July or early August. The new building will have 20 offices, and Miller said the counselors hope to relocate before the fall semester.

“We’re very excited about being able to expand our services when we move into the new facility,” Miller said. “It’s been something that has been a goal of mine for years since I’ve been in this role, and we’re so excited to finally be able to bring extended resources to the students because there’s a clear need. If we didn’t have a wait list, we wouldn’t be trying to grow because there wouldn’t be the need, so we’re just thrilled to be able to finally provide that.”

Miller said the center is already taking measures to increase their faculty size and meet the growing demand.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Life Circummured With Brick(s)

It’s Spring Break at SHSU and that normally means I’m wandering the main campus taking photographs. Not today – but I was reviewing the photographs that I’ve taken over the last eight years and found something mildly interesting.

First some history. Approval was granted in August 2011 for a $2.2 Million restoration of Austin Hall. The project included work on both its interior and exterior and went as far as temporarily removing the bricks and applying new mortar. From what I recall the idea was to number them and reposition them back in their original location, save for those that had deteriorated beyond use. When the project was complete Austin Hall was rededicated in October 2012.

So here are two photographs of the same brick that features a rather prominent "B" that we once used to represent the "B" in the now-former buildingshsu logo (play the Writing on the Wall game to learn more on that). The first photograph is from our July 2007 visit, the second came just last year in March 2013. You notice the main brick and its surrounding brethren are mostly the same except now above it to the right is a brick featuring the initials "M B".  So did "M B" find a blank canvas to leave their mark sometime between 2007 and 2013 what with all the shrubs trimmed out of the way?

For what it’s worth, the brick to the bottom right is still marked with “’84”, meaning that engraver most likely graduated from SHSU a mere thirty years ago.

Not a lot of time when you consider the original bricks were placed there when the building was constructed over 160 years ago.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Academic Building IV Repairs Slated For April Completion

The Feb. 25 edition of the Houstonian touches on the repairs slated for AB4 following the December 2013 accident that killed three SHSU students:
Repairs to Academic Building IV are expected to be complete at the end of April following a single-car accident that killed three SHSU students in December.

According to Gordon Morrow, director of plant operations, the construction will total close to $70,000 with repairs needed to the brick foundation on the south side of the building. Construction is slated to begin in March.

The pillar that runs adjacent to the south-side stairwell suffered damage to the brick foundation, although Morrow said the structural integrity of the building did not suffer.

Alpha Building was awarded the contract for the construction of the building as well as repairs to windows and hand rails affected by the accident. Morrow said the university’s electrical shop is currently repairing a light pole that was damaged as well.

Morrow said ABIV will not shut down during construction and classes will not be affected.

Price Consulting Engineer Bruce Cummins inspected the damages to ABIV on Dec. 23-24, 2013, and said the brick that was affected was immediately removed from the building to ensure safety for students and workers. Currently, a fence encompasses the construction area to maintain safety for pedestrians and students from potential falling objects.

Student Paved Way For SHSU Integration

The (Feb. 25) Huntsville Item has a short piece on John A. Patrick (1946-95), the first African-American student admitted to Sam Houston State fifty years ago this year:
Patrick’s cousins, Willie and Richard Harrison, said he was the perfect person to be the first African-American integrated into SHSU...because of his charming personality and his high level of intelligence. “He was just an outstanding person. If Jackie Robinson was the perfect man to start integration in baseball, then John was the perfect man to begin the integration process at the university here in Huntsville,” Richard Harrison said Tuesday.

Patrick knew his integration in the college would open the door for other African-Americans, but he never thought of himself as a historical figure, according to Richard. As Patrick’s time at the school continued, his teachers and peers began to accept him as they realized that Patrick was an intelligent person with a likable personality.

Patrick graduated cum laude from SHSU and became a high school math teacher in Houston. Later, he moved on and taught in Galveston ISD.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SHSU Shares With Citizens Ideas For Off-Campus Criminal Justice Facility

The Feb. 18 edition of the Item discusses the SHSU-hosted session that occurred Tuesday evening at the HEARTS Veterans Museum to let community members know what soon may occupy the land the university acquired next to the museum:
SHSU is looking to move its Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT) and Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT) programs off campus to free up space on campus and to continue to evolve the university’s criminal justice program.

Al Hooten, SHSU Vice President of Finance and Operations feels it is a perfect situation since the criminal justice programs are running out of space on campus.

“The LEMIT and CMIT programs have outgrown their space and we can relocate them and provide them new space to help their program. It also opens up space on the main campus so that we can repurpose it to be a more academic space,” he said.

The construction of a hotel and conference center was also discussed. All of Huntsville will be able to use that building, not just the members of the criminal justice programs.

The focal points of the session revolved around how the planning company would go about making the new facilities feel like a university campus and how to make it look aesthetically pleasing, as well as how the facilities will affect the neighborhoods nearby and traffic.

The planning company showed drawings of how they are looking to place plenty of greenery around the new facilities and make the buildings look as modern as possible so that it not only looks appealing to the eye, but that it has the feel of a school campus.

The people who came to Wednesday’s meeting had plenty of questions for the planners, such as if food services will be included on the new campus, how much will traffic increase, if the city will need to build new water and sewage lines and how close the campus will be to the neighborhoods in the vicinity.

Another planning session, that will be open to the community, will be taking place on April 17 in the HEARTS Veterans Museum as well.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Writing on the Wall

It’s time for another look-see around the SHSU campus. Can you identify the building or location where we took the photos that make up the former buildingshsu masthead? As usual, here is your letter and its haiklu:

An ingenious man
Whose name I do not recall
Longs for such sweetness

Monday, January 27, 2014

Fire Station No. 2 Scheduled To Reopen In February

The Jan. 25 edition of the Item discusses the renovations to Fire Station #2 and provides some interesting history of the original building:
Operations at Huntsville Fire Station No. 2 are close to being back to normal. Firefighters have not used the station on Sam Houston Avenue since a storm last April flooded the building with up to three inches of rain. Just as Huntsville assistant fire chief John Hobbs said last week, water and Sheetrock don’t mix.

The flood caused enough damage to prompt the City Council to approve $150,000 in restoration funds to get the fire department back on its feet.

A mobile home park sits behind the station on higher ground where a small retention pond is supposed to collect water. Between a suspected overflow of the retention pond and drainage issues, the fire station experienced its worst water damage in decades. Fire department officials said the station has experienced water damage dating back to the 1970s and ‘80s, but never a flood quite like the most recent one that caused mold and asbestos to develop. In the 1990s, there was a concrete water trough built to help divert water toward the U.S. Army Reserve Center, which sends the water through a pipe and eventually dumps onto Sam Houston Avenue. Since the flood last year, a two-foot wall was built around the retention pond to help do the same thing. The station’s ground level is now three feet higher and sandbags have been carefully placed in the area as well.

“Over the years (the retention pond) has filled in, so it’s useless,” Hobbs said. “When it rained, the water would come down the hill and then it would pile up. Our drain wasn’t big enough at the time. We had five inches of rain in this particular area of Huntsville. So we started doing measures to raise some doors and enhance the drainage with the city’s street department.

“The whole station was gutted. The only thing standing was the 2-by-4s, and if they were wet, we ripped them out. There was wood in here, but we had to tear it all out because there was mold and water damage. This building was built in 1938, so it’s an old house.”

Ironically, the original structure in 1938 was a swimming pool for whites only. The pool eventually shut down in the 1950s and Sam Houston State University used the facility for storage. The fire department has used the building for more than 40 years.

According to the City of Huntsville, Fire Station #2 was constructed at 2109 Sam Houston Avenue in 1973.