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But Beck's Lake Beckoned

1930 Skyline Didn't Tower

Imagine the plight--and bewilderment--of an alumnus returning to the University campus for the first time in 25 years.

He left the campus which was confined, in buildings, largely to the 40 acres bounded by Nineteenth and Speedway Streets. Now he returns to find almost 40 new buildings, some still under construction

He wants to tell the story of the campus as he knew its. "The year is 1930. Let me take you on a tour of the campus."


The logical place to begin is the Main Building. No Tower rises 27 stories above the still-unlandscaped University Hill. The only tower in sight is gabled, American gothic spire on Old Main. It's already 48 years old in 1930. During its history, three sections have been built on its center-site on the 40 acres. But the rear portion, the auditorium, is already condemned for use by crowds.

You can drive your rumble-seater within a few feet of Old Main; there's no Main Building terrace, no South Mall. Instead there's a tree-lined mall-like driveway on a steadily sloping hill.

This is the only road on the campus. For years, an old man with a horse and wagon has transported supplies and equipment between buildings not on the road line.

Not far from the Old Main and over near the present Drama Building was Beck's Lake, a campus landmark of the 1930's. A small but well-known pool (it really looked better in the dark), Beck's was to 1930 students what the Tower and Mount Bonnell are to the campus now.

In the Guadalupe-Nineteenth Streets area can be seen several structures that merit the campus epithet of a "wilderness of shacks." The Daily Texas was once produced in one such edifice, south of Sutton Hall. Home Economics also uses one.

Sutton's not new but it has a new name. This year it acquired. the Sutton Hall title to replace its old one of "Education Building." Reason: to honor William Senecea Sutton, one-time acting president of the University.

Old Main

The Library stands caddy-corner to the southwest corner of Old Main. Someday its name will be changed to Eugene C. Barker Texas History Center.

Co-eds with shingled bobs and above-knee skirts hurry in and out of The Women's Building (Drama Building, 1955). They've been doing that since 1903 when it was first occupied as a women's dormitory.

Behind the Women's Building--in what will someday be the patio of Texas Union--there's a wooden shack known as the Women's Gym.

Across the Drag, the University Co-Op has already established itself in its time honored location.

Gone in 1930 is the Old Chemistry Building, which stood halfway between the north ends of Old Main and Women's Buildings. Fire in 1927 sent its instructors scurrying into the unpainted shacks on the campus.

In the park-like corner at Guadalupe and Twenty-fourth Streets big heavily foliaged live oaks wave their triumph. Originally the Biology Building was to have used this site. But University officials couldn't bear to see the live oaks go; in 1925, the structure was built to the east of the clump of trees on its present site.

Co-eds walk past the Biology Building on their way to Alice Littlefield Dormitory, built in 1927, as a gift to the University.

Shacks dot the north portion of the 40 acres, too. For food, it's the Commons shack, on the site of the future Physics Building.

The old Engineering Building immediately east of Old Main has not yet begun to be the chameleon that it will be in later years--from Engineering to Journalism to Speech Building (its present name). But the change is on its way. Already in 1930 there is talk of a new engineering building east of Speedway. A couple of years earlier, the mechanical engineering shops were completed just north of the proposed new building.


The old Power Plant will someday be converted into the University Printing Division.

Then there "lives" old B. Hall, Texas. Technically, it's a building that will be torn down in 1952; sentimentally, it's been an uproarious home for men students since 1890. Of all the University legends, those of B. Hall fights, of Carry Nation's visit therein, will live on.

Garrison Hall and Memorial Stadium have already been on the campus for several years.


The College of Business Administration can't claim any one building of its own--it's spread out in shacks along Speedway. Plans and talk about Waggener Hall are mounting.

The old Law School (Pearce Hall, 1955) will continue to house classes for lawyers many years yet.

Real building achievement in 1930 is Gregory Gym, finished for the first Round-Up.

Until 1928 physical training classes had been held in a shack of a gym at Twenty-fourth and Speedway Streets, described as a "plain, unpainted, high-ceilinged building which cost $4,000."

Then one night William L. McGill, professor of journalism, warned an audience that the gym was "going to burn down one of these days" and that "it out to." Late that same night flames razed the building.


The story behind the financing of Gregory Gym is an exciting one--but another story. Anyway, by 1930, it looks as if the building's about done. Five days before the Texas-Baylor basketball game on January 25, word comes that Gregory Gym isn't quite ready for playing. Result: the game is played at a smaller gym in Austin High.

Bad weather further delays the completion and the A&M-Texas game also has to be played elsewhere February 14. April 12, 1930, Gregory is dedicated and building emphasis shifts to other equally needed areas.

Daily Texan. April 1,1955.
Article by: Bob Knight

1930 Campus Map

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3 May 1999
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