Historic photos provide new views of Rice, West University areas

2022-06-15 14:25:24 By : Ms. Danae Wang

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COLLECTED: Historic photos of the Rice University and West University areas

A colorized postcard of the Rice Institute viewed from the air, circa the 1920s.

Click through to see more photos from the history of West University...

June 1916 - The first commencement at Rice University.

The entrance to the Rice Institute in 1912.

Circa 1926 - Administration Building, Rice University, Houston, Texas.

December 1947 - Dr. Edgar Odell Lovett, President Emeritus of Rice Institute (now Rice University) standing in front of Lovett Hall.

July 1949 - Looking towards downtown on Main Street near Bissonnet. First Presbyterian Church (5300 Main Street) is center right. Part of the roof of the Museum of Fine Arts is seen left foreground behind the trees. Building in center far left is unidentified.

Copy of photo dated 1947 showing D.D. Smalley in his Hyde Park Miniature Museum in the attic of his home that he created in 1941. The photo was taken for an article that ran in the Houston Chronicle on July 20, 1947.

December 1949 -  John J. Pershing Middle School in December 1949. The Pershing School, at Braes Boulevard at Belfontaine, cost $2,097,194. The two-story brick structure first was occupied in September and greatly relieved the crowded conditions at West University Elementary School, 3756 University Boulevard, where the junior high school formerly was located.

Circa 1950s - Dirt streets at 2700 Bissonnet.

Photo of Bissonnet looking north taken from the roof of the Warwick hotel in 1928. Lower left is the Museum of Fine Arts, the Montrose apartments and Plaza Hotel.

Circa 1950s - This pylon stands on Buffalo Speedway north of Bissonnet, marking the location of the newly renovated and enlarged Buff Speedway Shopping Center. Located on a five-acre tract, the center contains 38,000 square feet of floor space and its stores and shops offer a wide variety of merchandise and services.

Date Unknown - Houston Lighting & Power Company Throne behind the power Hubert Bass, General Supervisor, transmission and distribution department western zone, left standing, and Harold Prestidge, Zone Dispatching Supervisor, join three seated dispatchers to monitor HL&P operation at the Bellaire Service Center, 4300 Bissonnet. The 50,000-square-foot center is the newest of HL&P's 20. IT will coordinate local service activities and supervise operation of the company's western zone, which includes Bellaire, West University, Southside Place, Alief and parts of southwest Houston. The new center was opened last week. Western Zone Map at HLP Plant at 4300 Bissonnet.

April 1962 - Ph.D. student James L. Youngblood (L) and Professor of Medical Enginerring Dr. Franz Brotzen, in research lab at Rice University working on NASA project.

September 1962 - President John F. Kennedy addresses a crowd at Rice Stadium in Houston. Kennedy tells the nation from a podium at Rice Stadium in 1962 that the U.S. is headed for the moon. "Why, some say, the moon?," JFK said. "Why climb the highest mountain? Why does Rice play Texas?"

President Kennedy gives his 'Race for Space' speech at Houston's Rice University. Texas, September 12, 1962.

June 1963 - Bellaire Triangle Shopping Center, bounded by Bellaire Blvd., Chimney Rock and Richmond Road. This view is from the corner of Chimney Rock and Richmond Road., soon to be changed to Bissonnet.

March 1968 - Eyes sealed shut and completely covered with mud, a Rice University student stumbles out of the "slime pit" after being tossed into the pool of mud during a tug of war game between the University of Houston and Rice. The UofH won the annual event.

Houston's Museum of Fine Arts on Bissonnet at Main.

These "eyes" of Houston Lighting & Power Co. will be watching the drivers on the Southwest Freeway, but virtually everyone says "aye" when asked if the modern steel poles are not a great improvement over the old wooden style. These poles will carry a new high voltage transmission line to downtown Houston from the Bellaire substation off the 4300 block of Bissonnet. A new 138-kilovolt line and the existing 69-kilovolt line will be placed on the new poles, which also provide greater protection against storm and wind damage.

Circa 1970s - First Bank of West University Place is branching out from this residential neighborhood to put a second bank office at the more heavily traveled intersection of Bissonnet and Buffalo Speedway.

Museum Expansion: Scheduled for completion early in 1974, the $4 million Ludwig Mies van der Rohe wing of the Museum of Fine Arts will double the size of the existing museum. The 70,000 square foot expansion, with entrance from Bissonnet, will consist of three levels. The lower level will house offices and an auditorium with seating for 300 persons. The entry level will have some gallery space, offices, a library, and a luncheon room opening into a terrace. The third level will house a sweeping picture gallery, longer than a football field, with three walls of glass.

The 14-story office tower being constructed for Sun Oil Co. on the northwest corner of Bissonnet and the West Loop has been topped out. The 294,000 square foot project and adjacent garage will cost about $15 million. It is being constructed on a 5.2 acre site. A project of Highland Square Reality and Development Co., it is expected to be completed in the summer of 1976, when about 350 Sun Oil employees will move into the new facility.

New Sun Oil Building Condorminium? What appears to be a gigantic Holiday Inn for birds, is actually Sun Oil Company's 14-story building on the northwest corner of Bissonnet and the West Loop, Houston. Here two whitecrested trowel tappers feather the maze-like nest which will eventually comprise a 294,000-square-foot office tower and tri-level garage. At completion, scheduled for this summer, the building will bring Sun Oil flocking from where it is presently located at 4151 Southwest Fwy.

November 1978 - Demonstrators picket Channel 13 studios at 3310 Bissonnet as part of a nationwide "Boycott ABC" effort sponsored by a group calling itself the National Federation for Decency. The marchers hope to cut into the audience ratings of the network, which they believe shows more sex-oriented and violence-oriented programs than the other two major networks.

December 1977 - Bissonnet and Academy, looking toward downtown Houston.

February 1979 - City of Houston street repair crews worked overtime on the weekend to fill thousands of potholes, including these at the 5600 block of Bissonnet and Chetwood, caused by recent rainy weather.

City of West University Place Assistant City Manager and Public Works Director Michael Ross outside his office on Jan. 22, 2002.

From the July 23, 1962, Houston Chronicle: Never too young. Mrs. Mary Hinds, 2207 Bolsover, a nurse, took the oral polio vaccine out to a car Sunday for sleeping 13-day-old Patrick Nelson Adam and his mother, Mrs. Bill Adam, 4230 Rice Blvd. The scene occurred outside West University School, 3756 University.

October 1980 - Teacher Joyce Janse stands by with lipstick in hand to help students at The Oaks School, 6002 Fairdale, plant big red kisses on a giant-sized birthday card to send to William B. Royer Jr., the West University Place man being held hostage in Iran. Royer, who will be 49 on Oct. 21, was a student at the school when he was a child. Children sending their kisses are, from left, Scott Schultz, Emi Hiroshi, and Leigh Ann Janse, all 3 years old, and Christopher Connolly, who will turn 3 the same day that Royer turns 49.

January 1991 - Friends, relatives and strangers turn out to welcome William Royer Jr. back to Houston following his release from captivity in Iran.

Date Unknown - Lincoln Auto Dealer Charles F. Turbiville, center, hands out checks totaling $500 as a reward for the capture of youths who had stolen and burned automobiles here. Left to right, are West University Place Police Chief H. E. Shipp, Houston Police Lt. Arch Spradley, Mr. Turbiville, Detective J. D. Broussard and West University Police Capt. R. J. Bugg. Officers Shipp and Bugg captured three of the four youths. Lieutenant Spradley said the reward money will be split to include Detectives Broussard and his partner, S. E. L. Smith. Arson, Auto Fires - Houston

Date Unknown - Miguel Carlos, 10, son of Mr. and Mrs. Carlos Martin, 4214 Amherst, doesn't have to go to Hermann Park to see a little water in the lake. He lives in West University Place where there is no rationing. However, he got a double reward on his visit. The lake was cool and soon it began to shower. The fish? They weren't biting.

September 2001 - Jesus Caja, manager of Village Flowery, at 6103 Kirby in The Village area near Rice University, changes his marquee board to God Bless America in the days after 9/11.

Flora Hyacinth is seen training by doing one legged jumps in the grandstand at the Rice University Track Stadium in Houston Monday June 12, 2000.

Former President George Bush pauses for a second and has an emotional moment after delivering a commencement speech at Rice University, Saturday, May 13, 2000, in Houston. Bush's emotions ran high after speaking of his grandson, who graduated from Rice last year.

Former President Jimmy Carter giving commencement address at Rice University on May 8, 1993.

A bronze statue of William Marsh Rice looks down from its perch Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2001, in Houston. Classes commenced at Rice on Sept. 23, 1912, 12 years after the death of its benefactor, William Marsh Rice.

Rice University student Andy Perez works on a computer at the campus library Saturday, Sept. 14, 2002 in Houston. Perez, a computer science major, works in the library for the quiet, not the books. He does his research online.

Signs warn of the upcoming construction work on Buffalo Speedway Saturday Feb. 21, 2004.

October 2007 - Hundreds of noisy protesters take their message to the street Wednesday, specifically the 1700 block of Bissonnet at Ashby, where a proposed 23-story high-rise development has angered area residents. Mayor Bill White pledged support for the residents fighting the planned high-rise building near Rice University.

George Mickelis serves his customers at Cleburne Cafeteria located at 3606 Bissonnet St. in Houston.

December 1990 - Crowds file in for the grand re-opening of the Cleburne Cafeteria, 3606 Bissonnet at Mercer. The restaurant was closed for about 4 months due to a fire which leveled the building.

Portrait of Barry Croft, owner of Shoe Savers shoe repair shop at 2400 block of Bissonnet St., who won the International Grand Silver Cup in the Shoe Service Institute of America's 2011 Silver Cup Contest for the second time Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, in Houston. Croft, a third-generation shoe repairman who was working in his father's shop since he was a child, is the first to win more than once in the 70-year history of the contest.

November 2001 - The sign board outside of Walgreens proclaiming that generic Prozac is now available, at the northwest corner of Buffalo Speedway and Bissonnet.

Texaco station at Fondren and Bissonnet, July 21, 1986.

Ely Cohn, left, and Henry Freedman are spending their summer vacation together being bat boys for the Astros Thursday, June 27, 2002 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The two are best friends from the West University/Bellaire area.

December 1998 - Nine-year-old Grant Hortenstine crawls through a tunnel in the Christmas trees that he and some friends (also his brother) constructed in the West University area. They use Christmas trees that have been thrown away to build the fort-like playground every year.

Mark Stemmer helps Christian Brown, 4, put the finishing touches on a U.S. flag on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2001 spray painted on the front lawn of his West University home. He and his girlfriend, Jessica Brown, and her sons, Jacob Brown, 8, and Christian Brown, 4, began spray painting the flag on their front yard on Sunday. The flag is about 20x24 feet. Mark is a firefighter for West University Fire Dept.

January 2005 - Kenneth Rogers,76 still active in the working world and owner of Dictating Machine Service Co. sitting in his West University home talks about the current status of Social Security.

Unidentified shopper at Rice Village in the West University area didn't let a little rain keeps him from shopping Sunday December 16, 2001, he just rapped up in a plastic bag and went on.

June 2000 - After a trip to the doctor, Xavier Olvera (age 2) and his mom, Amanda Wilkinson (cq), cooled off with a splash in the fountain in front of a West University Place area medical clinic.

May 2001 - Enjoying a little peace and quiet and a lot of open space, Sharon Kushner of West University Place relaxed and read, today, on the open space of the Rice University rugby fields. She enjoyed a little bit of solitude within sight of both a busy university and the Texas Medical Center, having the entire field to herself.

July 1994 - Houston Rockets Coach Rudy Tomjanovich makes his way through reporters and camera crews Wednesday after posting bond on a DWI charge in West University Place.

Crossing guard Pet Lundy works at West University Elementary School Tuesday on Jan. 22, 2002.

The stretch of Loop 610 North between Bellaire and Bissonnet on Saturday Jan. 25, 2003.

The famous Texas table at Kay's Lounge, which closed for good in late 2016.

The area surrounding Rice University has undergone incredible growth over the past 100 years, rising up with Houston's post-war fortunes to become the wealthiest town in Texas.

According to the official website of West University, the area was first conceived in 1910 by Governor Ben W. Hooper of Tennessee, who purchased land in the area from an old Spanish land grant. 

RELATED: West U once lured residents with 'wide-open spaces'

Hooper never even lived in the area, instead naming A.D. Foreman as president of the Houston West End Realty Co. and putting him in charge of developing the land. 

The first lots in West University, named for nearby Rice, went up for sale seven years later. The campus held its first classes in 1912 and has gone on to be one of America's most prestigious, and exclusive colleges. 

At first it was slow going in the area with only 40 families taking a chance on West U by 1923. Back then a small lot cost $1,000 and a larger, more tony lot along Buffalo Speedway and Bellaire Boulevard was nearly $5,000.

Fed up with poor utilities the area incorporated in 1924 so they could set up garbage collection, water, natural gas, and police and fire services. Grass fires were a problem in the early days, according to West U records. 

The population of West U in 1924 was about 260 people. City records from early 1931 report that there were 2,189 residents of the city. In 1940, however, the population had ballooned to 9,331.

RELATED: West University gets its place in history

In February 1929 the city passed Ordinance No. 23, Section 1, which made it "unlawful for any person in an automobile to park or stop on any street, alley or other public place in the City of West University Place, and while so stopped or parked to engage in such conduct as kissing, hugging or other indecent conduct."

What a way to celebrate Valentine's Day. 

In 1939 the area muscled up with its first city charter, a handful of parks, and rising property values as Houstonians looked to settle down southwest of town. At the time West U residents could take a trolley six miles into Houston, which then was just the downtown area and the various wards.

MOVE IN: West University's head-turning tin home hits the market

According to the Texas State Historical Association the population throughout the 1950s hovered around 17,000. By 1960, it had dropped to 14,361, and by 1970, it was recorded as 13,185.

The latest population figure sat a nearly 15,000 in 2010.

The U.S. Census Bureau puts West U at just 2 square miles in size. However, a lot of money is packed into that small area. According to a 2016 analysis by 247WallSt.com, the average household income was more than $207,000 and the average median home value was more than $815,000. At least 88 percent of adults in the town also had at least a bachelor's degree.

The city, when highlighted on a map, does in fact look like a tiny home with a chimney and an open door. Whether or not that intentional is another mystery. 

Craig Hlavaty is a freelance writer for chron.com and the Houston Chronicle.