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.

Book Signatures


Perusing the rare books shelves can reveal a variety of surprises.


One unassuming volume, Lettres D’Emerance A Lucie by Jeanne-Marie Leprince De Beaumont (1765), has some interesting signatures from Sir William Clayton Bart and C.E. Clayton, Harleyford, 1819. It’s unclear if these are two separate signatures, thought they appear to be in the same hand or E.C. Clayton refers to the Clayton-East-Clayton baronets.


by William Beechy, 1802

Above is Sir William Clayton, 4th Baronet (1762-1834), who was a member of Parliament for Great Marlow.

How a book from Sir William Clayton / Harleyford Manor wound up in our rare book collection is a bit puzzling.

Image from:

New HFMA Oral Histories

The Houston Folk Music Archive has been steadily posting new oral histories online. Here are few of the newer ones.

Danny McVey


He talks about his time doing sound for a variety of performers in the city.

Jack Saunders


He discusses playing with local bands, joining The Shake Russell Band, his duo with Shake Russell, and his recording studio White Cat.

George Ensle


He describes how he came to folk music and his recording projects.

Dana Cooper


He tells about his life growing up in Missouri and his careers in Houston and Nashville.

We’re also working on other oral histories by Don Sanders, Lynn Langham, Isabelle Ganz, Sara Hickman, and Franci Jarrard and Lyse Moore.


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.