The Woodson Research Center is fortunate to hold two watercolors by James H. Chillman, Jr. “Chemistry Building Construction Scene”, dated 1924, is an architectural sketch of the construction of the Chemistry Building. This was the first Institute building that was designed by William Ward Watkin in collaboration with Cram & Ferguson. It was also the only permanent academic building constructed in the interwar period at Rice. Finished in 1925 and renovated in 1998-2000, the building (now W. M. Keck Hall) includes humorous reliefs/sculptures of student life which were designed by Chillman. The watercolor was gifted to Pender Turnbull by Helen Chillman (the daughter of James Chillman) in 1973. Turnbull, a graduate of Rice Institute in 1919 who worked in the library as Bibliographer and Curator of the Rare Book Room, left it to the library.
The second sketch, “Gardens of Doria Palace, Genoa”, dated 1922, belonged to long-time supporter of Rice and the archives Ray Watkin Strange, who donated it to the Woodson Research Center. The centuries-old gardens belonged to the Doria Pamphili family of Genoa, Italy. Dr. Chillman doubtless sketched the gardens while spending three years as a fellow in architecture at the American Academy in Rome. He returned to an appointment in the Architecture Department of the Rice Institute in 1922, and became the first director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The Woodson holds Chillman’s papers, and he will be featured in a future post.