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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.

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.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Writing on the Wall

It’s time for yet another look-see around campus. Can you identify the building or location where we took the photos that make up the former buildingshsu masthead? Here’s yet another letter and its haiklu:

One for the money
Prospective students take heed
For wheels hit the road