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 alumnus-run site details changes to the physical campus with information about the academic, residential, and historical buildings, other prominent campus landmarks, and biographical data.

The idea of investigating the varied histories of the buildings came soon after I started as a student.  Walking around the grounds, it wasn't hard to ask who Belvin, Evans, Kirkley, and Pritchett were and wonder about their contributions to the campus.

It wasn't until the Fall 1997 semester that I found a way to act on my interest.  One of the main projects for RTV 370 (Media Program Planning and Scripting - or something like that) was learning what it took to develop a television series.  We had to create a premise and then document the steps we would need to take had we been putting together this particular program.  That meant mock budgets, simulated schedules, draft scripts, genuine worries, and all the fun when students do those things for a grade.

Since I had been intrigued with the campus grounds since my first visit to Huntsville during high school, it was only natural to devise some sort of catch-all "university history project." In its original form, the program was to tell the university's history by identifying those people honored on weathered plaques and articulately carved cornerstones found on the sides of buildings.  The concept also captivated the instructor, a staunch fan of documentaries, and he decided his class could produce such a project.  I was asked back to the course for the Spring 1998 semester, where this program became the class project.  My part in the class (which I suppose I accepted, knowing I surely couldn't get lower than an A) was helping develop the multi-part documentary series by the tentative title "Beacon of Education: the Building of Sam Houston State University." When we finished, it would air on KSHU television.

If we finished.  Our research consisted of the following:
  • Interviewing current and former instructors and administrators
  • Videotaping the campus as it was in 1998
  • Visiting the Peabody Library, where we set up a scanner and spent a week scanning old copies of the Alcalde
  • Invading the Thomason Room of the Gresham Library, where we unearthed treasures in the university archives and endlessly questioned the curator
  • Taking a self-guided tour of the then 146-year-old Austin Hall, where I stumbled upon a very unlikely treasure.  (A jar of mustard: you had to be there.)
Of course, one's senior year is hardly the time to begin something as momentous as documenting over one hundred years of university history.  Graduation was around the corner, and before long, those four years in Huntsville - as well as this project - were a distant memory.

Five years later, I happened upon my "project" and wondered what had changed in Huntsville.  Surprisingly, I found several significant changes to the campus skyline in those brief years.  Since we never completed the documentary, I put this website together in 2003 so the hours of research would finally receive a public showing.

I figured someone else might get as much of a kick out of it as I did.

Stay informed and impress your friends.

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