Architects in the Archives – Ralph Anderson, Jr. (1923-1990)

Ralph Anderson Jr. in Army uniform

Ralph Anderson, Jr. was a native Houstonian, and graduated in 1943 with a B. A. in Architecture and in 1947 with a B. S. in Architecture, both from the Rice Institute. While at Rice, he won The American Institute of Architecture Student Medal, and was the first architectural student at the university to be elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He began his practice early, designing several homes on the east side of Houston which were built before he achieved his first degree; you can see pictures of a couple of these homes here in the Rice History Corner.

After being inducted into the Army in 1943, he was sent to Harvard University. Upon completion of an Advanced Studies Program, he went to France where he served in the European Theatre of Operations. As a result of a head wound received at the Battle of the Bulge, he was awarded both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Like so many in his generation, his service in the war remained very important to him; six boxes of his collection are related to his service in World War II. Anderson later wrote a military history and designed spaces for military veterans, including a war memorial, a service men’s center, and a rest camp for veterans.

Drawings of proposed War Memorial (undated) and proposed School of Architecture at the Rice Institute (1947)

More about Anderson’s architectural practice, his many architectural awards, his activities as an artist, lecturer, and writer, can be found in the Ralph Anderson Jr. papers.


Memorabilia Monday: Bowling Trophy

Chinese American Citizens Alliance Bowling Trophy (men), ca. 1960’s

Much of the memorabilia in the Archives remains there, waiting for interested scholars and community members to revisit them in the Woodson. Not this bowling trophy! It began as a prize for the bowling champ of two Texas chapters of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, one in Houston and one in San Antonio, trading communities during the 1960’s as different players won the trophy. It finally landed with the Houston chapter for good, and came to the Woodson as a part of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance records (MS 606.) When my colleagues Anne Chao,  Amanda Focke and I attend events to talk about the Houston Asian American Archives here at Rice we like to bring along the trophy as a fun example of of items collected to document the communities and their activities.

We encourage families to donate memorabilia, photos, correspondence, business records, oral histories, and more to document the history of Asian American citizens in Houston.  Our goal is to collect materials that scholars will use to tell more of the stories of the community; please let us know if you want to contribute.

Architects in the Archives – Anderson Todd (b. 1921)

Anderson Todd sketching during a class, 1962

Anderson Todd earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Architecture from Princeton, serving in WWII between his degrees. He seemed to live at the center of 20th century American life: waving to Albert Einstein daily on campus at Princeton, challenging Frank Lloyd Wright at a lecture, and meeting Mies van der Rohe, the enormously influential modernist, who would serve as his architectural and philosophical mentor throughout his career.  William Ward Watkin, who had an exceptional eye for recruiting faculty, brought Todd to Rice in 1949, and by1969 Todd had assumed the duties of the Director of the School of Architecture and won the George R. Brown Award for Excellence in Teaching. More information about his creativity as an educator, his contributions to the MFAH, his many awards and accomplishments as an architect, and his partnership with Rice Professor William T. Cannady (whom we will talk about at a later date) can be found in the Anderson Todd Architectural Academic and Career papers.

One surprise in Todd’s materials were his doodles and sketches, which he apparently made wherever he went, on cards and scraps of paper. Here are a few examples:

doodles, pen and ink on paper

scallywag, pencil on paper

Hotel Porto, Torri del Benaco, Italy, pen and ink on paper

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.

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.

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.

Architects in the Archives – William Ward Watkin (1886-1952)

First things first- we HAVE to start with William Ward Watkin. We’ve talked about Watkin at length on the blog, so this post will be more personal.

Here’s Watkin as he’s portrayed by colleague and good friend James Chillman (note the students bowing and one poor fellow ground under Watkin’s heel!  a design approved by Watkin himself for the Chemistry Building.)

Watkin caricature in stone capital of Chemistry building, Rice University

High school yearbook staff, Danville High:

High school yearbook staff, including William Ward Watkin in the center of the first row, 1903

College, hanging out with friends:

William Ward Watkin at University of Pennsylvania, ca. 1908

With his young family on their passport photo:

Passport Photo of Watkin family, 1925

Archi-Arts Ball in 1929:Watkin inspired the theme of the first Archi-Arts Ball, which started in 1922. Here he is in costume for the Venetian Ball:

Archi-Arts Venetian Ball, 1929

Watkin, the first chair of the Rice Architecture Department, remained in Houston until he died in 1952. He developed a thriving private practice in Houston and around Texas, and wrote thoughtfully about architecture and communities. To learn more about him you can view this online exhibit or examine his papers in the WRC.

Artists in the Archives – George Cruikshank (1792-1878)

Thanks to Dr. Robert Patten (Lynette S. Autrey Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Rice University) we have extensive materials, including rare books, on George Cruikshank, popular English humorist and illustrator of Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Today we’ll look at some examples of Cruikshank’s lesser known works.

Cruikshank began his career as a political satirist in the mode of Hogarth:

Valour and Discretion

Later he became interested in book illustrations and theatrical caricatures:

The Betting-Book

George Cruikshank’s Fairy Library

In his lifetime Cruikshank created nearly 10,000 prints, illustrations, and plates; collections of his works are in the British and the Victoria and Albert museums. You can learn more about his works in the WRC in this collection.



Artists in the Archives – Gertrude Barnstone (b. 1925)

Gertrude Barnstone at Association of Rice Alumni Honors Dinner

Gertrude Levy Barnstone was born in Houston, Texas on September 5, 1925, and began studying art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston when she was 7 years old. Since there were no children’s classes available at the time Gertrude joined the adult classes, and discovered a life-long love for sculpture. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Rice University in 1945, and after a brief period working in acting she married Houston architect Howard Barnstone, with whom she has three children. Throughout these life changes she continued to pursue her art.

In 1953, Barnstone was commissioned to create a sculpture for the exterior of the S. & H. Green Stamp building on Holcombe Blvd. in Houston. After her divorce in 1969, Barnstone studied welding at Houston Community College. She worked at a factory making plexiglass skylights, a job that gave her the skills to incorporate glass into her colorful and intricate metal sculptures. During her career she contributed artwork to local exhibitions and created sculptures for private residences, working largely with steel, and also with wire, glass, mirrors, fabric, and other materials.

Gertrude Barnstone with garden sculpture

In addition to her art, Barnstone made community involvement a large part of her life. Educating her children in the Houston Independent School District of the 1960’s ignited a passionate commitment to grass-roots activism. She was elected to the school board in 1964 and strongly promoted the desegregation of Houston schools. From 1970-1973 Barnstone produced the KPRC-TV educational children’s program “Sundown’s Treehouse” and from 1972-1973 served as Director of Development for the Institute for Storm Research. Barnstone served as President and Treasurer for the Texas ACLU Foundation, President of the National Coalition of Women’s Art Organization, 1981-1982, and president of the Houston Women’s Caucus for Art, 1980. In the early 1990s she founded Artist Rescue Mission, an organization that provided aid to people in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. In 1995, Barnstone received the Lifetime Achievement in Civil Liberties award from the Greater Houston chapter of the ACLU. In 1999 she received a Distinguished Alumni award from Rice University. More information on Barnstone’s life and art can be found in this article published in Cite, the publication of the Rice Design Alliance. The guide to her papers in the Woodson Research Center can be found here.