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.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

SHSU To Break Ground On Performing Arts Building

The music, theatre and dance departments will become one step closer to having a new home on Thursday, October 2 when SHSU will break ground for the construction of the new Performing Arts Center.

The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at the Fine Arts Courtyard, between the Music Building and the University Theatre Center.

After a few words by College of Arts and Sciences dean Jamie Hebert and SHSU president Jim Gaertner, a conga line, including students dressed in costumes from various arts productions, will lead attendees to receptions in the Music Building atrium and UTC lobby, according to Maggie Collum, special events coordinator.

Representatives from the Texas State University System office, as well as the building’s architect and construction companies, WHR Architects, Inc. and SpawGlass Construction Corporation, respectively, will be on hand for the ground breaking.

The $38.5 million project will bring together the three programs in a 91,976 square foot facility that will include recital and concert halls, an outdoor performance area, practice and rehearsal rooms, costume storage and offices.

It is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2010 semester.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Arch Deluxe

The new archway we mentioned a few days ago has been installed outside the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.

It looks far better than the previous arch that welcomed visitors to Sam Houston’s home in decades past.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rebuilding Fallen Arches

The Huntsville Item reports that the old archway that stood outside the Sam Houston Memorial Museum is being recreated.
The archway that says “Sam Houston Home” is situated between two stone pillars leading to the museum’s entrance.

Patrick Nolan, director of the museum, said the old archway was wooden and decayed a long time ago. After finding the two stone pillars buried behind some trees, Nolan said the museum hired a contractor to rebuild the archway based on an old photograph.

Nolan said the Sam Houston Folk Festival donated the money to create the archway.

"It’s our gift to Huntsville,” Nolan said. “It’s a symbol of the museum pride and dedication to Huntsville."

Nolan said there might be a dedication ceremony at some point in the future.
The old photograph mentioned in the story is probably similar to the one we have above from the 1962 Alcalde (above).

I guess I don’t understand how the pillars were “just found” behind some trees, as I saw them and wondered their usefulness back in 1997 when I started the buildingshsu project. You have to drive past them to enter or exit the museum grounds, which someone is doing in our 2007 photo (right). Of course, it wasn't until later I discovered why the pillars were there, and by then I was more surprised that someone hadn't insisted they be torn down. I guess I'm just amazed in the sudden interest in the once-forgotten archway.

Monday, September 15, 2008

DMN: San Marcos body farm does 'CSI'-style research

The Dallas Morning News featured an article in their September 14 edition about the two Texas body farms, both in the Texas State University – one in San Marcos and the other northeast of Huntsville.
This five-acre Hill Country farm isn't for harvesting crops, and it's not for raising animals. It's for bodies – dead bodies – and the Texas State University criminal justice students who use them to help solve cold cases.

These 'CSI'-style cemeteries, where scientists study donated human corpses as they decompose, have been untenable in all but a few states – the result of uneasy neighbors and an obvious "ick" factor.

For now, Texas has beaten these odds. Within a year, the state will be home to two of the country's four "body farms," including TSU's, the largest human decomposition program in the world.

Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, which is in the same university system as Texas State, got approval this year for its own body farm – the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility. But some students and faculty have raised concerns about the farm's location – on a former Texas Parks and Wildlife fish hatchery they say was supposed to be reserved for "natural" sciences. "Natural," in this case, is in the eye of the beholder.

"We need to do this for people who don't have a voice," said Dr. Joan Bytheway, who conceived of Sam Houston's body farm in 2005 while excavating mass graves in Iraq to convict Saddam Hussein of genocide. "So many cold cases are never solved. We can use this to determine what happens to bodies postmortem, until they're recovered."

Sam Houston State broke ground on its body farm last month – a 1-acre, maximum-security plot on the site of a former fish hatchery. The facility got the university system's go-ahead this spring following a faculty vote, and will have a morgue-type structure on the property by the end of the year. Dr. Bytheway said the first cadavers will be out there "as soon as we can start getting them.

Dr. Bytheway said she's seen the reaction body farms have had elsewhere in the country, and has taken every necessary precaution. The Sam Houston facility is on a dead-end road where the nearest home is more than a mile away. A containment pond will catch any potential runoff. And she had geologists take soil samples to ensure bodily fluids wouldn't be able to leach into the ground.

But they've also used another technique: "We've been really low-key about it," Dr. Bytheway said.

Indeed, few in Huntsville seem to know a body farm is in the works. Reached by phone, the Huntsville mayor, the city manager and the county judge said they supported Sam Houston's forensics research – but that they'd heard nothing about the plans.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Today@Sam: Statue To Be Dedicated To War Hero, Alumnus Sept. 11

The Sam Houston State University statue that pays homage to two war heroes and an artist will receive its official dedication on Thursday, September 11, 2008.

The ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. between Academic Building I and the Smith-Hutson Business Building. During the event, university president Jim Gaertner will recognize Col. M.B. Etheredge, one person in whose honor the statue of Gen. Sam Houston was given. The statue’s donator, alumnus Ron Mafrige, will also make a few remarks.

The ceremony will also include a presentation of the colors by SHSU’s ROTC and songs performed by the Bearkat Marching Band and will be followed by a reception in the LSC Mall Area.

The statue, a 20-foot replica of the 67-foot statue that stands on Interstate Highway 45 south of Huntsville, was created by sculptor and SHSU alumnus David Adickes, the other person in whose honor the statue was given. Adickes also created the original “Big Sam” for Gen. Sam Houston's 200th birthday anniversary and named it "A Tribute To Courage."

Etheredge, a 1937 graduate of Sam Houston State Teachers College and former SHTC track star, is this country's highest decorated surviving soldier of World War II. In the U. S. Army, Etheredge earned three Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts for gallantry in action.