Thanksgiving Plans

Given that Rice Institute was such a small community in its early days, it makes sense that there is a list in the Rice Thresher detailing students’ Thanksgiving plans. If you read through the list, you’ll see other oddities like mass quantities of pecans being sold out of the Thresher office.



The Woodson will be closing early today at 2:00 and will re-open on Monday 11/27.

Memorabilia Monday: Cuba Libre Dress

Our university memorabilia collection is going through some changes. We’ve separated out all of the clothing items and created a new collection entitled the Rice Historic Clothing collection. This will free up some much needed room in our vault.


This amazing dress created for the Archi-Arts Ball on January 22, 1944 has been at the Library Service Center for many years. Because of all of the changes, it magically popped up in the vault.



In 1944, the theme for the ball was “Baccanale.” Women wore dresses based on alcoholic drinks. Dorothy Lottman wore Cuba Libre. Other dresses included the Mint Julep (Bettie Lou Johnson), Pink Lady (Margaret Morrison Mays), Manhattan Cocktail (Gertrude Levy), Old Fashioned (Ann Ridgeway), Champagne (Beth Hummel), and Purple Passion (Dorothy Jean Weghorst).

To read more about the ball, there is a great pre-event write-up from the Rice Thresher.

Architects in the Archives – James C. Morehead Jr. (1913-1999)

Morehead teaching class

Those of you who read Rice History Corner (all of you!) know James C. (Bud) Morehead, Jr. pretty well. He enjoyed photographing the changing views of the Rice campus during his long tenure here, and this interest resulted in his popular book, A Walking Tour of Rice University. (The digitized version of the book can be found online here.) This may be why William Ward Watkin offered Morehead his collection of glass plate negatives of the campus, taken from about 1912 through 1950.

Morehead, a Princeton graduate in Mathematics and a graduate in Architecture from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, accepted an offer from William Ward Watkin to teach Architecture at Rice University and moved to Houston in 1940. He earned the title of Professor Emeritus and served as registrar of the University from 1965 until his retirement in 1979, and was elected a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects in 1982. He was most active as an architect in the 1950s, when he designed homes for two Rice professors and for himself.

Bud Morehead had another avocation that he pursued his whole life; he loved music and singing, beginning as a boy soprano when he was only six. He was a passionate fan of Gilbert and Sullivan and one of the founding members of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society at the Rice Institute, singing in the first ever Rice faculty show in 1951: “Trial by Jury.” He continued to act in roles during at least the first eight years of the Society, receiving favorable reviews from the Thresher theater critic, who recalled Morehead’s “resonant voice filling Palmer gymnasium.” We would love to see more photos of the performances if you have any.

Architects in the Archives – Wylie Walker Vale, Sr. (1916-2013)

Wylie Walker Vale, Sr. 1939

Wylie Walker Vale, Sr. moved with his family from St. Louis, Missouri to Houston when he was in high school, graduating from San Jacinto High in 1934. At the Rice Institute he studied under Stanton Nunn and William Ward Watkin, and graduated in 1939 with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture. At Rice he met and married the former Alliene Crittenden Guinn, an interior designer who frequently worked with him on residential projects, and went to work for Moore and Lloyd as a draftsman.

After Pearl Harbor Vale enlisted in the Navy and was commissioned an Ensign in 1943 from the U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipman’s School at Notre Dame. While in San Francisco waiting for a ship to be repaired he walked the neighborhoods of the city, taking in the design of the new Ranch style homes. From that point he consciously began incorporating these modern style elements in his designs. Vale preferred natural materials with warm, earthen colors and textures, durable materials requiring minimal upkeep, such as stone and cypress wood.

When the war ended Vale worked for leading architects in Houston before starting his own firm, Wylie W. Vale & Associates, which built or designed a large portion of Memorial, Tanglewood and River Oaks. He was known for his unique approach he called “Contemporary Country,” designing over 450 residences for community leaders such as Roy Cullen, Gus Wortham, Fred Heyne, and George Lewis. The Woodson Research Center has a few of his residential drawings from the 1950s, which can be found here. He also designed 100 schools (including Spring Branch High School, the first public school with air-conditioning in Houston) and 50 churches, commercial, collegiate and institutional projects throughout the country. Vale considered his most important public building to be the Matagorda County Court House in Bay City, Texas. Set on a plinth, with a parking garage below grade, the two-story building is an excellent example of modern architecture of the period.

Matagorda County Courthouse

Vale’s work has been featured in the Houston Chronicle and Architectural Digest. Active until late in life, he designed his last house at the age of 86. He died in Austin in 2013 at the age of 96.

Memorabilia Monday: “Blithe Spirit”

In the back, there’s a cart that accumulates all of the little bits of flotsam and jetsam that float through the Woodson.

On top of the cart today was this, a ticket for Blithe Spirit.


Here’s an accompanying article in the Thresher dated Friday, September 21, 1951. Sadly, there were no clearly marked photographs in the Campanile.


Online Exhibit: Houston Folk Music Archive


We’re happy to announce the new online exhibit for the Houston Folk Music Archive. It features a history of the scene, mini-exhibits on musicians, bands, music venues, and others. Each mini-exhibit contains a biography or history, images, and/or an oral history.


The online exhibit also has a map of music venues where folk musicians played. It even includes a timeline where you can track the folk scene’s rise and fall.

A big thank you to Claudia Middleton, our student archivist, for all of her scanning, metadata work, and for creating the map.

Architects in the Archives – Harrie Thomas Lindeberg (1879-1959)

rendering of the Neuhaus home in Shadyside, 1922

Harrie Thomas Lindeberg is different from many of the architects profiled here in that he was not a Houstonian. He was a highly influential architect for wealthy society families in New York; his simple, clean-lined country home designs, vernacular materials, and bare hints of older European architectural vocabulary were significant in setting the style for early 20th century domestic American architecture. Post-World War I competition in New York caused Lindeberg to seek elsewhere in the country for important commissions. At the same time Joseph Cullinan, one of the founders of Texaco, created the Shadyside subdivision for himself and his friends. One of those friends, stockbroker Hugo V. Neuhaus (father of noted domestic architect Hugo V. Neuhaus Jr.), chose Harrie Lindeberg as his architect. You can see the collection of  architectural drawings for the Neuhaus home here at the Woodson. Lindeberg went on to design homes for William Stamps Farish, Kenneth E. Womack, and D. D. Peden. To learn more about Lindeberg’s work you can read his book, Domestic Architecture, which has dozens of photos and drawings of the homes he designed and includes an essay on his philosophy of architecture.

More Folk Music Oral Histories

We have uploaded another batch of oral histories. These will all be included in our upcoming Houston Folk Music Archive online exhibit.

David John Scribner


He speaks about his life and his time hosting the “Chicken Skin Music” program on KTRU.

Lynn Langham


The Grammy winner discusses her long career in the music industry and her experiences as a singer-songwriter in Houston, New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville.

Don Sanders


He talks about his time playing at the most famed folk clubs in Houston.

Architects in the Archives- Charles Tapley (1931-2015)

Charles Tapley /Buffalo Bayou Tapley Tributary

Houston waterways, including Buffalo Bayou, are a continuing topic of conversation in the city, especially in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. I immediately think of Charles Tapley, architect and landscape architect, Adjunct Professor in Architecture at the University of Houston, Rice alumnus, and wonderfully kind person. He was a visionary, a driving force for the thoughtful reclamation and development of Buffalo Bayou.

Everything that has been done in recent years to make the bayou a place that invites people (and accommodates occasional flooding) was imagined in his master plan, the Buffalo Bayou Strategy (1977), developed on a forty-foot-long drawing unrolled on his studio floor.  A digitized version of the Buffalo Bayou Master Plan can be viewed in Rice’s Digital Scholarship Archive here. You can zoom in  for detail and pan across the length of the rendering.

Buffalo Bayou Master Plan rendering (detail) 1977

The detail above is between Waugh and Montrose and Memorial and Allen Parkway.

Tapley was known for his mid-century modern design aesthetic, and for his joyous projects for public spaces such as Tranquility Park and houses of worship in the Houston community. Commitment to sustainability and the use of native plants to support local wildlife and climate were integral to his designs. You can learn more about his work in his papers here.