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.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Writing on the Wall

It’s time for yet another look-see around the SHSU campus. We can do 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.

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

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Time Capsule: SHSTC President Harmon Lowman Dies

Fifty years ago today – Sunday, January 26, 1964 – marked a black day in the history of Sam Houston State Teachers College, notes the 1964 Alcalde. SHSU President Harmon Lowman died of cancer at 8 PM in Houston’s M.D. Anderson Hospital.

A native of Staples, Texas, Lowman attended Washington and Lee University in Virginia and later enlisted in the army during WWI. Afterwards he taught and finished his education with a bachelor's degree at Southwest Texas State Teachers College, and a master's degree from the University of Texas. He continued on with his education receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, making Lowman the first SHSU president to have an earned doctorate.

When he became president in 1941 the campus had 21 buildings valued at $1.1 Million; at his death there were 78 buildings worth $21 Million. At the start of his tenure the enrollment was 1,200; in 1963 enrollment was over 5,200. In 1941 the college offered 464 courses with a budget of just over $488,000; in 1963 these numbers increased to 1,008 courses and an operating budget of more than $6.3 Million. Lowman is also remembered for his acquisition of Country Campus east of Huntsville for only one dollar ($1) from the federal government, and for equipping SHSTC as the country's first completely air-conditioned college.

The Alcalde notes Dr. Lowman was truly a student’s president:
His door was always open to all, for, as he often said, “The college exists for the student and not the student for the college.” Students loved him...and never failed to give him a standing ovation at college assemblies. Returning the students’ affection, he said, “I had rather be President of Sam Houston State than President of the United States.”
The final tribute paid to Dr. Lowman was in the fall of 1963 when the Board of Regents renamed the $1,800,000 student union building the Lowman Student Center:
This was the last building he secured for Sam Houston and many believe it thrilled his heart to know this long-nurtured dream of his had become a reality. ... Although the condition of his health never permitted his entry into the building, his love filled every inch of the interior and exterior.
Lowman was buried in Huntsville’s Oakwood Cemetery.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Delta Tau Delta Fraternity House Opens

We’ve mentioned it on brief occasion over the past decade but the Epsilon Zeta chapter of the Delta Tau Delta (ΔΤΔ) fraternity finally and formally opened their new house today [Sat. Jan. 25].

The Joseph “Butch” MacKenzie Delta Tau Delta Fraternity House is located east of main campus at 287 Bearkat Boulevard on a 1.8 acre tract behind the Byrd Prison Cemetery and south of the Theta Chi Fraternity House (2001).

The house was named in honor of MacKenzie (d. 1997), a 1960 graduate of SHSTC and a 2000 distinguished alumnus, at the request of his former roommate and fraternity brother, the late Ronald Mafrige (1937-2011), who paid off the debt of the fraternity's former shelter.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Master Plan Phase 1 to be completed in 2014

The Jan. 21 edition of the Houstonian notes that phase one of the 2020 campus master plan for the campus is supposed to be completed later this year:

The 2020 Master Plan for SHSU was approved by the Board of Regents in August 2008 and includes three phases—the first of which was planned to take six years making 2014 its final year. In 2012, the original 2008 plan was revised and adjusted to meet the needs of the campus and its growing student population.

According to [SHSU Director of Communications Julia] May, due to rapid enrollment growth between 2008 and 2012, many of the original plans had to be reevaluated and modified.

Over the last five years, Lone Star Hall was built as well as the construction of Old Main Market dining facility, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Gaertner Performing Arts Center. The demolition of Smith-Kirkley Hall and King Residence Hall resulted in the possibility for the expansion of the Lowman Student Center as well as additions to the Student Health and Counseling Center and the Events Center/Press Box at Bowers Stadium.

In addition, facilities off of the SHSU main campus have also undergone renovations including Gibbs Ranch, the University Camp, The Woodlands Center and the future research park.

The major projects still left to be completed before commencement onto phase two of the master plan is the construction of the Agricultural and Engineering Technology building, the Nursing/Biology building, a Shared Special Instruments building and the expansion of the Communications and Central Plant. A complete list of phase one projects can be found on pages 108-109 of the 2020 Campus Master Plan on the SHSU website.

According to an article written by the Houstonian in Fall 2013, several major projects could not begin construction because the Texas Legislature voted against raising the required funding through the issuance of revenue bonds.

The master plan also includes meeting ecological standards and continually looking for ways to improve parking on campus as well as sidewalks for the safety of both pedestrians and bikers.

Phase two is set to fan out over the next seven years and phase three is planned to begin in 2021.