As part of the Provost’s funding for the 125th Anniversary of the university, the School of Architecture was awarded $10,000 to study the historic buildings in the central campus and to recommend a list of buildings that should receive historic markers. The research proposal was developed by David G. Woodcock, FAIA, Professor of Architecture and Director of the Historic Resources Imaging Laboratory.
The proposal suggested the creation of a flyer (similar to those currently available for The Williams Administration Building and the Cushing Library) as a self-guided walking tour for visitors to the campus. The tour would highlight the historic core of the campus, and provide information on the selected buildings.
As a part of the research, a list of buildings under consideration was circulated to selected university administrators, college deans, and others, to seek comments and advice. The survey assisted in the creation of two categories of buildings: those with easily recognized historic and cultural importance, and those with a supporting role, but not of highest priority.
The Academic Building (1914) was designed by campus architect Frederick E. Giesecke ’86, and Samuel E. Gideon, afer Old Main was destroyed by fire in 1912. The beaux-arts classical design is a four-storied reinforced concrete structure faced with brick, and crowned with a copper dome. The front facade has four Ionic columns supporting the Classical pediment. Exterior cast stone belt courses, lintels, columns and panels are made of red granite aggregate made on the construction site. The interior rotunda is framed by twenty-six Doric columns, with a mosaic of the university seal in the floor (1978), and houses a Liberty Bell replica presented to the college in 1950.
The Williams Building (1932) was designed by architect S.C.P. Vosper in a classical revival style as the headquarters for the Texas A&M University System. The building faced the new state highway symbolizing the shift from train to automobile travel. The grand approach created New Main, and mirrored the older campus plan. The eastern façade is notable for the fourteen freestanding modified Ionic columns, with portraits of cadets and a young woman. The 53-foot high second floor lobby has a rich interior treatment including a dramatic lighting fixture, and terrazzo floor map with major historical sites of Texas. Named in 1997 for the university’s seventeenth president, Dr. Jack Williams.
Animal Industries Building
The Animal Industries Building (1932) was designed by campus architect S.C.P. Vosper and dedicated as a memorial to “the pioneer livestock men of Texas” on December 10th, 1936. The eclectic classical revival architecture has brick pilasters separated by tile and cast stone panels. The column capitals depict images of farm animals, and exterior motifs represent skulls, animal heads, ears of corn and cornucopias. The two-story cast stone entrance is flanked by elaborate ironwork lighting fixtures and ornamented by Texas cattle brands. Interior tile work reflects the exterior “animal” motifs. This and Scoates Hall were planned to be a part of the never completed agricultural quadrangle.
Chemistry Building (1929) was designed by S.C.P. Vosper using classical design proportions and details. It was extended to the east in 1981 and 1988. The ornamentation uses a variety of color schemes in tile patterns inspired from the art of the Mexican Americans, and includes patterns of animal heads, skulls, bones and fossils. The main entrance has a monumental stair leading to pedimented doorways. The entry ceiling has intricate painted gold grillwork against a background of dark panels with complementary lighting fixtures.
Civil Engineering Building (1932), designed by Frederick E. Giesecke, is one of the last highly ornamental buildings constructed on campus. A classical revival two-storied stone structure is faced in brick, with cast stone and ceramic tile ornamentation. Originally used as a veterinary hospital with two additional buildings at the rear, used as stables and anatomy laboratory. The entrance is identified by a cast tone carving of a saddle and a longhorn. The parapets at the building ends have pediments with patterns of horse and cow heads, human figures and shields.
Francis Hall (1913) was designed by Rolland Adelsperger, college architect and professor of architecture and architectural engineering, in a highly distinctive Romanesque style for the School of Veterinary Medicine. The proposed design exceeded the budget. The architectural firm of Endress and Watkin reduced the size and changed the exterior design to match other buildings. Completed in 1918, it is a classically proportioned three-story reinforced concrete building with brick and cast stone exterior. The façade has brick pilasters with Doric and Ionic capitals and projecting balconies. The third floor is marked by cast stone quoins. The entire building is capped by a brick parapet wall. Named after Mark Francis Hall, the father of veterinary medicine at Texas A&M.
Cushing Library (1930) designed by Frederick E. Giesecke, Thomas F. Mayo, S.C.P. Vosper and members of the college staff. Built on the site of the first veterinary building, this Texas interpretation of classical architecture has second and third floor pilasters with carvings of ram heads and cow skulls. The frieze identifies Cushing, and names of men in arts, literature and science. The intricate metal grille in the reading room depicts the brands of famous Texas ranches. The ceiling decoration has an eclectic collection of Native American, Egyptian, Hindu, Texan and European symbols. Colonel Edward B. Cushing was chairman of the board of directors (1912-1914).
Animal Husbandry Pavilion
The Animal Husbandry Pavilion (1917) was built to house livestock demonstrations and show training, a use continued for over fifty years. Campus architect Rolland Adelsperger used Romanesque detailing on the upper walls and gable ends of the simple rectangular building, as well as the columns and architrave at the main entrance. A dirt floor arena with open metal trusses housed twenty five hundred people in bleacher style seating. Adapted to office use in 1988, the building lost its spacious interior and the subtle coloration of the original brickwork during waterproofing treatments.
Bizzell Hall (1918) designed by campus architect Rolland Adelsperger, is one of the oldest buildings standing on the campus. Bizzell Hall served the college as a dormitory until the 1960’s, as did the adjacent Goodwin Hall (1908-1989). The hall consists of two parallel buildings, each with three stories and a basement, and is constructed in brick with stone pilasters, moldings and cornices. Eight Doric columns and a molding with “Bizzell” carved on it form the east and west facades. The building is named for William B. Bizzell, president of the college from 1914-1925.
YMCA Building (1914) was designed by architect S.J. Fountain, for the Young Men’s Christian Association and is significant for its use of materials and excellence in detailing. The building was financed by funds donated by students, former students and the John D. Rockefeller Foundation. It served as the student center until 1950. Originally a two-story brick building with a basement, a third floor and two semi-circular rooms were added int he 1920s. Four limestone Doric columns and an entablature mark the main floor. The rear of the building contained a chapel, which was lost to the construction of offices, as was the basement bowling alley and pool.
Sbisa Dining Hall
Sbisa Dining Hall (1913) was designed by campus architect Frederick E. Giesecke to replace the castle-like 1897 Mess Hall that burned in 1911. It anchors the north end of Military Walk whose south terminus was Guion Assembly Hall (1918-1971). A one-story building and basement, constructed in reinforced concrete and brick masonry, with entries marked with Doric porticos and pediments. The facade has brick pilasters alternating with arched wood windows and doors. A hipped roof was added during the renovations and restorations of 1988-2001. The building is named for Bernard Sbisa, who was “supervisor of subsistence department” for the college from 1879 to 1926.
Scoates Hall (1932), originally known as the Agricultural Engineering Building, was designed by Frederick E. Giesecke, in a classical revival style. The south entrance has a decorative two-storied element with intricate carvings and beautiful ironwork frames, lamps and grillwork. The facade is decorated with ornamental cornices and symbols in cast stone including goat heads and owl figures. The second floor interior hall ceiling has ornamental ironwork and agricultural motifs. The building is named in honor of Daniels Scoates, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Engineering from 1919-1939. It was intended as part of a never completed agricultural quadrangle.
The Halbouty Building (1931) (originally the Geology-Petroleum Engineering Building) was designed by architect S.C.P. Vosper in an eclectic and highly ornamental style. The original four-story building is in the shape of a “t” and, until 1972, had a high central tower over the main entrance concealing a large water tank used to maintain pressure in the campus heating system. The south entrance feature castings of seashells, pebble mosaics, and recessed doors with iron grillwork. A heroic panel over the side entrance symbolizes petroleum exploration. The building was named for Michel T. Halbouty ’30, a distinguished alumnus, Houston geologist and oilman.
Bolton Hall (1912) was originally the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Building. It was designed to mirror Nagle Hall, and with Old Main (burned in 1912) formed the heart of old A&M’s Academic Quadrangle. Considered “fire proof” due to its steel and reinforced concrete construction, it was officially named in 1939 in honor of President Frank C. Bolton, the “grand old man of A&M”, known affectionately as “Bear Tracks” Bolton. On November 24, 1921, William A. “Doc” Tolson ’23 and Harry M. Saunders ’22 produced the first live play-by-play broadcast of a football game in the nation (A&M vs. Texas) from wireless station 5XB located in Bolton Hall.
Nagle Hall (1909) is one of the oldest buildings on campus, constructed in 1909 as the Civil Engineering Building. It was renamed in 1929 for James C. Nagle, the first dean of the School of Engineering. The design maintains the campus’ distinct Classical architectural style while making extensive use of cast stone in the columns, belt courses, cornices and balustrades. The facade is marked by four engaged Ionic columns sitting on a belt course created by the first story above ground and serves as a stylobate, thus permitting the columns to extend through the second and third floors.
Hart Hall (1929) was erected on the site of the Old Assembly Hall razed in 1929. It was named after Laurence J. Hart, a member of the board of directors (1909-1924). It was designed as an experiment in student living known as the “ramp system” where rooms are accessed from the outside by a series of stairwells, instead of internal hallways. The ramps separate two pairs of rooms connected by shower and toilet facilities. The four story building has ten ramps (a through j) and 138 rooms. The corners of the “u” plan are cut at a forty-five degree angle. The exterior is very simple, with ornamentation limited to the ramp entrances.