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UT Tower Has Seen Fire, Suicides, Abuse

The Tower has a history as long as its 3.7 foot shaft. For almost 30 years, it has withstood weather, abuse by students and professors, and a fire.

On August 10, the twentieth floor of the Tower was charred by fire, destroying valuable collections and a section of the structure.

Sparks from torches used by workers installing air-conditioning equipment in the building caused the fire.

WORKMEN ARE continuing the repairs on the 28-year-old building.

The Tower is still standing, however, despite verbal attack by the late J. Frank Dobie, fromer professor and critic of the University.

"It is the most ridiculous thing I ever saw," he remarked one day in his class in Southwest Literature.

"With as much room as there is in Texas, and as many acres of land as the University owns, we have to put up a building like those in New York."

MR. DOBIE suggested that the Tower be laid on its side where it would be close to the groung and hava "galery running along the front of it." Then, he remarked, one could stroll leisurely along the gallery until he came to the room he wished to enter.

Comprising a portion of the Main Building, the Tower erection began in 1934 and was completed by the summer of 1937. The Tower is finished in Bedford limestone, which was formed in the Mississippian Period.

Officially opened in July, 1937, the deck is used during the football season by Austin police to direct and control traffic at home football games in Memorial Stadium.

Besides providing a means of traffic regulation, the Tower deck has served as a means of committing suicide. Five persons have leaped off the Tower, the last almost 11 years ago.

Many of the outstanding features of the Tower are located in the inside and surrounding area. In the Main Building of the Tower is the Mirabeau B. Lamar Library, fifteenth largest University Library in the United States, and long considered on of the best libraries in the South.

Almost as famous as its heigh -- the Tower is higher than the Capitol BUilding -- is the Tower's lighting.

A PHOTOELECTRIC CELL actuates switches that turn on the lights, except when special occasions warrant distinctive lighting. The famous orange lights are turned on manually and the entire Tower is bathed in orange.

Officially, the Tower shaft is completely orange when Texas is victorious on Thanksgiving. For the first three nights in January, 1964, however, the Tower glowed tangerine orange for three consecutive nights. A large white "1" on the Tower shaft showed Texas fans that the Longhorns were Number One in college football. The Tower glowed by a special decree of Chancellor Harry Ransom. Immediately after each Texas victory, the observation and column decks of theTower glow orange, whether the sport is gootball, track, basketball, baseball, golf, tennis, or swimming.

THE OBSERVATION deck at the Twenty-ninth floor level of the Tower offers students the highest viewing point in Austin.

Officially opened in July, 1937, the deck is used during the football season by Austin police to direct and control traffic at home football games in Memorial Stadium.

Besides providing a means of traffic regulation, the Tower deck has served as a means of committing suicide. Five persons have leaped off the Tower, the last almost 11 years ago.

Many of the outstanding features of the Tower are located in the inside and surrounding area. In the Main Building of the Tower is the Mirabeau B. Lamar Library, fifteenth largest University Library in the United States, and long considered on of the best libraries in the South.

Daily Texan. September 22, 1965.
Article by: Unknown

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3 May 1999
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