Friday, June 22, 2001

The Austin Hall Sesquicentennial

On a warm day in June 150 years ago Sunday General Sam Houston traveled up the hill a short distance from his Woodland Home to help mark the beginning of construction on Austin Hall, which has become Sam Houston State University's architectural symbol.

To honor this sesquicentennial occasion, the Peabody Memorial Library and archives is presenting an exhibit of memorabilia relating to Austin Hall's history. Peabody is located a few feet east of Austin Hall, in the university's historic Quadrangle, and is open from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The exhibit is scheduled to run June 25-July 13.

Today@Sam goes on to say that we know "Sam Houston slept here," in his Woodland Home. We know he attended meetings in Austin Hall. We know where he is buried, in a Huntsville cemetery north of the campus. But we can't find the Austin Hall cornerstone, and it too may be buried.

Austin Hall has been changed. Its cupola was removed so that a third floor could be added, and then taken off. The Old Main Building was built nearby, in 1889. The most recent work was completed in 1986 after the building was damaged by the 1982 fire that destroyed the Old Main, returning it to its pre-1881 appearance.

Somewhere along the way the cornerstone was covered, by earth or bricks. A pre-1881 photograph of the building, which is part of the Peabody exhibit, shows a white area on the northwest corner of Austin Hall, which might be a cornerstone.

But Ralph Spencer, an architect who is completing his third master plan for the Sam Houston State campus, said that "Masons always place the cornerstone at the northeast corner. I do not think one is there."

All in all it's just another brick in the wall.

Friday, June 8, 2001

Tougher Admission Standards Among Regents Actions

Tougher admission standards, a new name for the Department of Public Communication, and new fees relating to library use, correspondence courses and degree programs and majors offered online were among the measures approved Friday for Sam Houston State University by the Board of Regents:
  • Approved contracts and purchase orders of $180,000 for renovation of the University Theater Center.
  • $125,000 to replace the Sam Houston Memorial Museum roof, and $145,000 to replace auditorium seating in the Beto Criminal Justice Center.
  • Approved preliminary plans for a $285,000 renovation of the Smith-Hutson Business Building.
  • Approved demolition of Hathorn House, a two-story residence hall built in 1961, because of foundation settling and damage.