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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.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Ghost Tales of Sam Houston State University

Halloween comes to Huntsville and the staff of the Houstonian does a hair-raising job of digging up some of the stories and legends from SHSU:
"The first story I ever heard was a girl shooting herself in a community bathroom on the ground floor of Belvin-Buchanan Hall. You're supposed to see the silhouette of her face on the wall," [Senior Shelbi] Blackmon said. "Supposedly, that's why there is a wall covering up the two bathrooms," she said.

"On the fire emergency exit map on the back of everyone's dorm room door, the maps on the ground floor show two bathrooms. If it's not true, then why are they on the map?" she asked.

JoEllen Tipton, director of Residence Life, begs to differ. "There has been no such thing like someone shooting themselves, or someone murdering somebody. UPD hasn't ever reported anything of that matter. There has been stories, but even then, in Belvin, there has never been bathrooms on the ground floor. The room on the ground floor that people mistake the bathroom for being, is a maintenance closet that holds air conditioning equipment," she said.

"We've heard the girl's face on the wall story, but none of the staff or faculty has ever seen it. In the late 70s, a lot of girls painted murals on the walls of the ground floor, which is also known as the garden floor. Depending on the paint color on the walls, in between the years, I'm guessing that some of the pictures might still show through the repainting renovations," Tipton said.

Blackmon also heard a rumor of a lady's picture hanging in the lobby of Belvin-Buchanan, that follows students when they walk by. The picture is of an old Residence Manager Mrs. W.H. Fannie Matthews.

Natali Rhymes, a resident manager at Elliott Hall had some grueling stories to share.

"Back in the day, there used to be four dorm rooms on the ground floor. Supposedly, a girl was killed in her room. The rooms were then renovated into a lounge for the bottom floor. If you go to the ground floor of Elliot by yourself at nighttime, you're supposed to see a girl combing her hair in the reflection," said Rhymes.

Anyone interested in seeing the facts for themselves will have to wait. A tar problem on the bottom floor caused the lounge area to be reconstructed. Now, the area is being considered for central staff offices.

Rhymes has had plenty of weird and freaky things happen to her, but the worst was when she was a house manager at the old Chi Omega House, now the Stuart House, which houses the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority.

"...I heard that an old Chi Omega alum hung herself in her shower of one of the rooms. Some of the sorority girls told me about the incident. Anyways, a little while after that, I was doing room checks and the room that she had killed herself wouldn't open with my master key. In fact, you had to go through the suite to get to the room. If you unlocked the door to the bathroom and left, and then came back, the door would be locked," said Rhymes.

"I think it's fun to think something happened because the buildings are so old," [Belvin-Buchanan Hall Resident Manager Jessica Truscott] explained.

A faculty/staff member who didn't want their name published, said that there are ghosts in the Peabody Building and Austin Hall. In the Peabody Building, there is supposedly an older woman in a long black dress who visits the building in the daytime. If the music being played on the radio is not the music the ghost likes, she'll pull the cord out of the socket. In Austin Hall, an elderly maid stands at the end window looking out towards the courthouse. Sam Houston's ghost is also rumored to appear at nighttime in one of the back windows and also looks out.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Alumni Fountain Vandalism Costs University

From the Houstonian:
The Alumni Fountain between the Lowman Student Center and the Dan Rather Communications Building was vandalized again when unknown person or persons poured soap into the fountain last Thursday. The act of pouring soap in the fountain can be classified as a tradition that has become widely expected, but is also illegal.

The continuing prank of soap in the alumni fountain costs the university an estimated $500 each time. The fountain is usually a relaxed area of campus where many sit and talk or read amongst the flat bricks with the sound of the falling water in the background.

Over the years, this area is also where students, faculty or anyone passing by the fountain may notice soap in the water. When the prank occurs, the SHSU Physical Plant is notified. Men such as John Turman, Mike Yargo and Earl Carter, all workers for the Physical Plant are informed and begin the necessary work to fix the fountain. "It's something that they do," said Carter. "It's been going on for year and years and years; they think it's cute."

Everything from dish washing liquid to washing powder and even bubble bath has been added in the water fountain. "Sometimes students do leave the containers. Last time, we found some Tide and a Mr. Bubble container," said Yargo. The estimated $500 it takes to repair the fountain is subtracted from SHSU's general fund. "We have to drain it, refill it and put more chemicals in it," said Yargo. Despite the frequency of the vandalism, catching the responsible parties is difficult. "To my knowledge, no one has ever been caught," said Yargo.

Behind the Buildings: Evans Complex

Another in a series of a series of a series of...the Houstonian’s history of some of the campus buildings; this week we learn about the Evans Complex.

Favorite line:
"The new Evans building was constructed in the 1950s and latter renovated to what is now known as the Evans Complex. Evans was two separate buildings before the construction."

Actually, prior to any construction the building didn't exist.

(I know...I know...shut up....)

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Houstonian: Parking garage in the works

From the Houstonian:
Funding has been approved for the construction of a multi-level parking garage between the Lowman Student Center and Sorority Hill.

The completion of the garage should help alleviate continuing parking concerns by adding over 400 spaces on the SHSU campus.

Construction is scheduled to begin in February and the current parking area should remain open until then. The project is expected to cost between $4 million and $4.5 million dollars said Doug Greening, director of the Physical Plant.

"There will be three or four levels with a possible one-half level below grade," Greening said. "The recent rains will be a factor, but we had hoped to get started on it by December."

Earlier this year, the university received proposals from nine different teams of architects and contractors for a design-build project to complete the garage. Bonds were sold to fund the project.

Greening said the planning for this has been different than for other construction on campus. Previously, an architectural firm would design the project, then proposals would be taken from contractors for the construction.

"This time, we advertised for a team to design and build it, consisting of a contractor and an engineering firm," Greening said.

The architectural firm of Graeber, Simmons and Cowan, with contractor CP Snider, both from Austin, submitted the winning team proposal.

Greening said construction should be complete by July or August, barring any other delays.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Houstonian: City annexes Gibbs Ranch

From the Houstonian:
The city of Huntsville annexed the SHSU Gibbs Ranch during a city council meeting last Tuesday.

During the monthly city council meeting Oct. 8, the city voted to annex five new areas in Walker County into the city limits. The land added to the city is all public land, and Huntsville will use it to increase its extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Behind the Buildings: Peabody Library

It’s time for the Houstonian to break out the university history book; this week the historic Peabody Library is the topic at hand.

Favorite line:
“The early history of the Peabody Building goes back in time to when Sam Houston State University was known as Sam Houston Normal Institute.”

No, I think I’ll let you wrap your head around that one.

Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Behind the Buildings: Farrington Building

Another week, another building history from the pages of the Houstonian; this week we celebrate the Farrington Building.

Favorite line:
“Farrington's daughter married into the Gibbs' family. The Gibbs contributed $400,000 for the chair, White said. It was made into a revolving chair to be used for each faculty member's research or professional things. "The marriage was good news for (the chemistry department)," White said.”

Sorry, but what chair is being discussed here? A department chair? A lab stool sample that swivels? Color me confused but this is the first time “the chair” seems to be mentioned.

Thursday, October 3, 2002

Houstonian: Alumni Garden to be dedicated

From the Houstonian:
SHSU students will now have a visible memorial of the foundation the university provides with the completion of the Alumni Garden, near the fountain on the SHSU campus. A dedication ceremony for the garden will be held Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. as part of homecoming activities.

Developers hope to ultimately incorporate the garden and fountain into an Alumni Plaza. "The Alumni Fountain was created as a memorial to university alumni and friends. It is a link to SHSU," said Ronny Carroll, past president of the Alumni Association and current member of the Alumni Advisory Board.

"Three or four years ago, the developmental committee had the idea to do something on campus so that present students could see the presence of the alumni and provide a memorial for those who had passed here before," he said.

Paving stones were available for purchase by alumni and friends, engraved with the names of graduates and professors or anyone with a special meaning or contribution to the university. The stones were placed beside the fountain for students and visitors alike to enjoy.

Kevin Hayes, director of Alumni Relations and a 1989 graduate of SHSU, said it became apparent the location did not properly recognize individuals in a dignified manner.

"I was out by the fountain one day and I saw one of the stones covered with debris," Hayes said. "That is a high traffic area, people walking through, golf carts going over it. If you come back years from now and want to look at your stone, you don't want to find it covered up and dirty."

From this, the idea of the Alumni Garden evolved to provide a quiet, serene place where everyone can visit and reflect on the history and experiences of SHSU. The Alumni Advisory Board began looking for a site, and President Gaertner ultimately approved the area near the fountain, which was previously a material handling area for the LSC.

Engineer Gerald Harris designed plans to create the landmark that students and visitors can recognize. Hayes said the brick wall provides a dignified area for display of the memorial stones, while allowing a very prominent area on campus to honor the university's history.

Tuesday, October 1, 2002