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normal operations, but the return of veterans from pre-war classes
was a new and major matter. Students returned who had left the
Department of Architecture over various periods from their freshman
year to the final months of the fifth-year master degree program.

The Rice Institute felt an obligation to help those now returning
from the war to complete their degrees as soon as possible, and get on
with their lives. However, when these veterans from a wide range of
classes were added to those who had remained in course and to the
usual list of new applicants, Watkin and his postwar faculty faced
formidable problems of scheduling, manpower, and facilities.

A. A. Leifeste, Jr., who had gone into service with the U.S. Navy
after completing his master's degree in architecture at Rice in 1936,



Chapter Eight 311

was the next postwar addition to the faculty. He replaced Claude
Hooton, who remained in New Orleans instead of returning to Rice.

James Morehead took over Stay ton Nunn's key area of structures.
Nunn, the most considerate of colleagues, continued to teach a class
from time to time, but was very much involved in his private practice,
especially as consulting architect to the Houston Independent School
District, which had a major postwar expansion under way. James Karl
Dunaway was assigned city planning, which Milton McGinty had
taught during his welcome pro tempore assistance during the war.
Dunaway spent more time, however, in sophomore and junior design
as the full impact of Tom FitzPatrick's departure was felt.

The two final additions to the architectural faculty during this
postwar era were Anderson Todd and Robert Folsom Lent, in the
fall of 1949. Todd, an architectural graduate of Princeton in 1943,
had completed the master's degree there in 1949, after military
service. Lent, also a veteran, earned four degrees in architecture
and fine arts. He graduated from Cornell and the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology before postwar studies abroad, the latter at
the Ecole Americaine des Beaux-Arts in Fontainebleau and at the
American Academy in Rome.

After World War n, the Archi-Arts balls resumed. The Traveling
Scholarship was now funded by patron gifts and private donations
from the very active Rice Architectural Alumni Society, as the alumni
began to prosper in their new and growing firms [13]. After the war,
the architectural graduates of the 1930s had returned home to start
their own practices in Houston, just as the postwar building boom was
beginning in the 1950s (which extended into the next two decades).
As a group, these Rice architects enjoyed much success and have left
their mark on the architecture of Houston.

Meanwhile, William Ward Watkin had been invited to join a
long-range advisory committee in Houston charged with planning the
location of hospitals and support facilities in the mushrooming Texas
Medical Center. Rapid and continuing growth of the new center
directly south of the Rice Institute campus would make it, in time,
one of the largest concentrations of medical facilities in the world.
Until the late 1940s, for decades the only establishment there was the
original Hermann Hospital.



312 William Ward Watkin and the Rice Institute

Also while in the midst of consulting on the three Staub & Rather
buildings at Rice, Watkin received a new church commission located
near one of his first major buildings, the Museum of Fine Arts. This
was the Central Church of Christ, a functional and beautiful place of
worship covering much of the 4100 block on the west side of Montrose
Boulevard. Here again, he had the opportunity to put into practice many
of his recommendations in his 1936 book. The Church of Tomorrow.

In 1949, the American Institute of Architects held its annual meeting
for the first time in Houston. It had been almost 40 years since Watkin,
finding that the Houston Chapter of the AIA had become inactive in
1913, worked with Birdsall Briscoe and Olle Lorehn to restore it to
active status. The new AIA charter had been granted to Houston in
1924. The silver anniversary of the Houston affiliate was celebrated
in Houston with the well-attended national convention. At this 1949
meeting, Watkin was named a fellow of the AIA.

The certificate granting this honor recalled Watkin's many accom-
plishments as an architect, educator, and author. Graduates of the
Rice Institute Department of Architecture, who were now leading
architects themselves, watched from the audience as the certificate
was presented to their mentor. Frank Lloyd Wright, architect of
international distinction and an acquaintance of Watkin's for many
years, was awarded the preeminent Gold Medal of the AIA at the
meeting. Known for his acerbic wit, he was asked what he thought of
the then-new Shamrock Hotel, site of the AIA convention. "It is the
first time," he replied, "that I have been inside a jukebox."

In the same year, Watkin received an honor from his beloved
alma mater. President Harold Stassen of the University of Pennsyl-
vania appointed him to be a member of the Special Advisory
Committee to the School of Fine Arts (which included the Depart-
ment of Architecture). He looked forward to attending meetings of
this group in Philadelphia.

After the Central Church of Christ was completed, Watkin entered
into a new partnership with two of his former students, Milton
McGinty and Stay ton Nunn. In 1947, he helped secure for the firm
one of the partnership's principal commissions: the new Methodist
Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. The hospital would also
incorporate a lovely chapel, the Wiess Chapel.



Chapter Eight 313

Watkin was particularly interested in designing the chapel. It was
built as a memorial to Harry Carothers Wiess, an active member of
the Rice governing board during the crucial postwar era at the
Institute from 1944 until his death August 6, 1948.

Milton McGinty, the first Rice Institute Traveling Scholarship
winner, had just completed a project of great consequence to his alma
mater and to the city of Houston. This was the new 70,000-seat Rice
Stadium at the extreme western boundary of the campus. It was a
strikingly handsome and thoroughly functional structure of brick and
soaring concrete, built at a cost of $3.3 million by Brown & Root, the
world renowned engineering firm headed by Trustee George R.
Brown and his brother Herman.

This stadium had been built in record time. The elapsed time from
ground breaking until the first game in the new facility, the 1950
home season opener against Santa Clara, was an amazingly short
eight months. The Institute had progressed from the old dirt practice
field on which Philip Arbuckle's teams played before a few hundred
spectators, to one of the finest football stadiums anywhere. In time,
it would be the site of historic speeches by U.S. presidents D wight D.
Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, as well as a speech by General
Douglas Mac Arthur and a crusade by Billy Graham. It would also be
the site of a future Super Bowl.



X.



As has been noted, William Ward Watkin had rejoiced over the safe
return of his son from years of war in the South Pacific. Now Bill was
thoroughly enjoying the new phase of his career as a faculty member
at the U.S. Military Academy. On weekends, he and a colleague at
West Point often went into New York City for a break from teaching.
On one of these brief visits he met the roommate of his friend's
fiancee. She was Carol Snyder, a young designer from Burlington,
Iowa, and an art graduate of the University of Iowa, who had come
to Manhattan to make her own career.

Lieutenant Colonel Watkin and Carol were immediately attracted
to one another. They were married in Burlington in February 1949.
In February 1950, she presented him with their first son, William



314 William Ward Watkin and the Rice Institute

Ward Watkin III, born at West Point. The baby's grandfather was
understandably delighted, and Bill and Carol soon brought William
Ward in for a visit to Houston.

After World War II, Watkin had begun working on a new book
on modern church architecture. The F.W. Dodge Corporation of
New York City, well known as publishers for the profession, had
produced a series of illustrated books, the popular "Building Types
Studies in Architectural Record." In the fall of 1951, F.W. Dodge
published Watkin's Planning and Building the Modern Church. In
the well-illustrated volume, Watkin first examined the "evolution
of modern church planning from 1900 to 1950." He then proceeded
through the practical steps, from the organization and functions of
a church building committee through the many stages resulting in a
new church. These included selection of an appropriate site, prelim-
inary studies, materials, the chancel ("heart of the church"), actual
construction, and such detailed matters as walls and towers, light-
ing, heating and air conditioning, and furnishings. The book
concluded, ". . . let us hope that . . . there shall be seen by all men
a symbol above all and visible to all ... . In the simple geometry
of the cross it shall represent, not boundaries of creed, but universal
understanding and justice."

The book illustrated the work of such internationally known
architects such as Ralph Adams Cram, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue,
Eero Saarinen, Charles D. Maginnis, and Alden B. Dow. Among the
illustrations were the Cadet Chapel at West Point (photographed by
William Watkin, Jr.), the Princeton University Chapel, Our Lady
Queen of Martyrs at Forest Hills, and the East Liberty and West
Liberty Presbyterian Churches in Pittsburgh, designed by Cram.

Also represented were designs by a number of rising young
architects who had studied under him. Among these were Talbott
Wilson, S.I. Morris, Harold Calhoun, Harvin C. Moore, Hermon
Lloyd, and Mace Tungate. Professor Watkin included illustrations of
his own designs: St. Mark's Episcopal Church at Beaumont, the
Golding Chapel, and the Wiess Chapel.

Watkin's basic philosophy was that great architecture is an archi-
tecture "of all the ages." This was made clear again in Planning and



Chapter Eight 315

Building the Modern Church, as it had been in Watkin's teaching,
practice, and writing.

In the 1960s, Ray Watkin Hoagland, recalling her father's career
of a half-century, noted that during perhaps the most transitional
period in American architecture, he had succeeded in spanning a time
of remarkable change "with flexibility."

Here was a man trained at the University of Pennsylvania under Paul
Cret, from Lyon's historic Ecole des Beaux- Arts; and by Ralph Adams
Cram, the apostle of Gothic tradition; and by Bertram Grosvenor
Goodhue, Cram's partner and gifted designer. Yet as the decades
moved on, her father "followed with interest the new movements in
architecture of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright."

Further, William Ward Watkin "... encouraged the new ap-
proach to design in his teaching and writing," while at the same time
professing his basic philosophy: the belief that great architecture
remains an architecture of all the ages. Watkin's daughter found this
philosophy of her father best expressed in his poem at the beginning
of Chapter IV of his book. The Church of Tomorrow:

"To ages past we raise

Our toast . . .

And to our age the hope;

Creative mind with reverent warmth

Will find its course

True, clear and new in manner

As in the spirit fresh.

One with the old as yet the old

Is one with all the ages."



XI.



On January 21, 1952, William Ward Watkin celebrated his sixty-
sixth birthday and the beginning of a new year that marked four
decades as the organizer and chairman of the Department of Archi-
tecture at the Rice Institute. He was still carrying his full teaching
and administrative responsibilities, and looked forward to a continu-
ing practice with his new firm, which had just completed the new



316 William Ward Watkin and the Rice Institute

building of the Methodist Hospital. He and Josephine lived content-
edly at 5009 Caroline, and looked forward to letters and occasional
visits from the children, their spouses, and the grandchildren.

There was a new Watkin at Fort Bel voir, Virginia, where Bill and
Carol were now stationed with the Corps of Engineers inside
Washington, D.C. A second son, Thomas Snyder Watkin, had
arrived in July 1951. Bill Watkin, promoted to full colonel, was
serving as deputy commander of the Officer Candidate School for the
Corps of Engineers at Fort Belvoir.

Ray and Carl Biehl were still in New Orleans, but Rosemary and
Nolan Barrick had moved from Iowa State to the University of Texas,
where he was a professor of architecture. They had adopted a son,
Bruce Watkin Barrick, and were in the process of adopting another
child, a girl to be named Anne Hester Barrick.

Then, as the academic year neared its end. Watkin suffered a painful
but seemingly minor injury. On March 31, 1952, he fell in a revolving
door at the Shamrock Hotel and broke his kneecap. Taken to his new
Methodist Hospital, he was given emergency treatment. It was decided
that surgery was necessary. Tragically, he developed a virulent staphy-
lococcus infection in his knee from the operation. This led to blood
poisoning (septicemia), which grew progressively worse and did not
respond to antibiotics. Watkin died on June 24, 1952, in the Methodist
Hospital, with his three children and Josephine at his bedside.

Forty-two eventful years had passed since William Ward Watkin
had first arrived in Houston, fully expecting to return to Boston and
the prestigious firm of Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson after the shortest
time necessary to build a new institute along flood-prone Harris
Gully in a fledgling Texas city. It seemed, to his family, that he
should have had many more fruitful years of life. But today they are
confident that his lasting contributions to his university, his two
generations of students, his adopted city, and his profession will live
on as a permanent legacy to the future.



Notes:

1. President Lovett read an excerpt from a postcard sent to him by the first
graduate of Rice Institute to "reach the Western Front." On furlough, the



Chapter Eight 317

young soldier had written, "... Old buildings fine, but Paris has changed.
The Louvre is closed!" "Hear his complaint," Lovett told his audience.
After attending Art League exhibitions since his days in a Houston grammar
school, the soldier reported that the change he most noted and regretted in
Paris was the closing of the city's great art museum during the war. The very
first project of what was originally the Houston Public School Art League
had been to place good reproductions of the great masterpieces of painting in
classrooms. The project had a lasting impact.

As Houston moves on into the 1990s, national critics point out that the city
has joined New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other major cities in having
a thoroughly professional and well-established symphony, opera, ballet,
resident theater, and museum organizations.

The Museum of Fine Arts predates all of the four other groups except for
the Houston Symphony Society, founded in 1913. It has obviously had a
major effect in bringing the city widespread recognition as an expanding
nucleus of cultural accomplishment. Meanwhile, the Houston Symphony
Society is acclaimed for concerts held as far away as Hong Kong. Offerings
by the city's opera, ballet, and resident theater are seen in our nation's largest
cities, as well as increasingly abroad.

2. The National Youth Administration program was administered in the Lone
Star State by a lanky, energetic, and ambitious young man from the Hill
Country named Lyndon Baines Johnson. LB J, of course, moved on from
secretary to Congressman Richard Kleberg, to the U.S. House of Represen-
tatives and the Senate, to the vice presidency, and six years as the thirty-sixth
president of the United States.

3. Gaylord Johnson was well liked and respected by John T. McCants, the new
chairman of the renamed Faculty Athletics Council, by Watkin, who
continued to serve for a time as a member, and by the administration. He had
known many of the faculty as an honor student at Rice and had been one of
the few doctoral candidates in the first decade of the Institute. Johnson
believed that intercollegiate athletics should play an important role at the Rice
Institute. Further, he was convinced that such a program would find
substantial support, not only on campus, but in the community as a whole.

4. The championship was won under Jimmy Kitts, a highly successful coach in
charge of both football and basketball at Rice. The Owls had opened the 1934
season far from home against Purdue, favored to repeat as Big Ten champi-
ons. The Boilermakers lost in a major upset, 13-0. They were never able to
stop John McCauley or Bill Wallace, who were to win Ail-American honors
for Rice. On November 24, 1934, the Owls were still undefeated in SWC
play. A victory over TCU would assure them the title.

Rice lost the game 2-7, and the opportunity to hear a victory speech by
Edgar Odell Lovett. A faithful fan, always in his midfield box with his



318 William Ward Watkin and the Rice Institute

family (the Watkins were in an adjoining box), Dr. Lovett had been asked to
speak to the team after the expected win over the mediocre TCU Frogs. In
spite of his innate modesty, he agreed. There would be, however, a second
chance for the Owls. The championship was still theirs if they could win over
the Baylor Bears at Waco on December 1 .

President Lovett spoke to Jimmy Kitts' footballers before the Baylor game.
He knew that the coach's real name was Jason, and as a scholar of Greek
mythology took as his theme the ancient story of the hero Jason, his ship, the
Argo, and crew of 1 1 Argonauts. The Argo was built under the supervision
of the goddess Athene, whose three owls dominate the shield of the Rice
Institute. The crew included sons of the greatest gods and heroes of antiquity:
Zeus, Poseidon, and Hermes.

It was a brief yet fascinating comparison between 'Jason' Kitts' Owls and
mythology. One of their most important victories had been over the Texas
Longhorns. The Argonauts had also "subdued beasts with horns." There had
been a thunderstorm during the win over Purdue, and a norther threatened
outside for the Baylor game. The Argo faced many foreboding and "auspi-
cious signs of thunder and lightning" in pursuit of the "Golden Fleece"
(conference championship).

Happily, the Baylor Bears were soundly defeated, 32-0. Rice had won its
first SWC football crown, four years into what was to be a decade of glory
for intercollegiate athletics at the Institute. Stars of the very first Owl teams,
including Ervin (Tiny) Kalb, Isham (Ike) Wilford, Marion Lee (Preacher)
Lindsey, and A. M. (Tommy) Tomfohrde would watch with pride as Rice's
success continued, not only in football, but in basketball, baseball, track and
field, tennis, and golf.

Harry Fouke is one of the few remaining members of the 1934 gridiron
champions. He remembers the historic victory over Baylor at Waco, but even
more the presence of the dignified and scholarly, yet thoroughly human
President Lovett, who compared his Owls to another Jason's Argonauts of
legendary fame.



William M. McVey's statue of Jim Bowie is a continuing attraction in
Texarkana, where it was installed in 1936. Texarkana, a thriving city of
almost 100,000, partly in Texas and partly in Arkansas, was selected because
it is the center of population, agribusiness, and industry of Bowie County.

The Texas Legislature established Bowie County in 1841, in the pre-
statehood days of the Republic, to honor the hero of the Alamo. The county
seat at Boston is now a hamlet of 200, almost 20 miles northwest of
Texarkana. Although small in population, it adjoins the Red River Arsenal
and is a pleasant community in the center of the county. Arkansas inhabitants
point out that Colonel Bowie, a native of Georgia, was in their state in 1819,
even before it became a territory. And the famed Bowie knife, in use



Chapter Eight 319

throughout the frontier after Jim Bowie invented the long, deadly weapon, is
still called the "Arkansas toothpick."

6. The young, handsome, and mustached Dick Dowling owned the "Bank of
Bacchus," which he opened on the corner of Main and Congress, in the heart
of downtown Houston early in 1860. This popular "bank" actually dealt in
". . .the exchange of liquors for gold, silver, and [trustworthy] banknotes."
When the War Between the States broke out, Houston's sizable Irish
population organized quickly to provide enthusiastic support for the Confed-
erate cause. Lieutenant Dowling, a native of County Galway, commanded an
all-Irish outfit: Company "F" of the Texas Heavy Artillery. It was part of
the Davis Guards, a volunteer battalion known as the "Fighting Irishmen."

Union forces had captured Galveston late in 1862, and blockaded the vital
port, only to have it retaken by the Confederate General John Magruder on
New Year's Day 1863. General Magruder knew that the Yankees would be
back, and they were, in tremendous force. The first day of September 1863,
spies confirmed that 20 ships carrying an estimated 4,000 men were en route
from New Orleans to Galveston, and due at Sabine Pass in less than a week.
The Pass, guarded by Fort Sabine, was the key to entering the Gulf of Mexico
in force, and recapturing Galveston.

General Magruder ordered Lieutenant Dowling to march immediately to
Fort Sabine and destroy the installation, with its six long-range cannon, to
prevent them falling into the hands of the invading enemy. Instead, the
Fighting Irishmen strengthened the fort as best they could, cleaned and oiled
the cannon, stacked the ammunition ready for firing, and otherwise prepared
for unwelcome visitors. They then took pains to make Fort Sabine look as if
it had been deserted for some time.

When the Sachem, first of the Union gunboats, moved into range to
destroy any shore batteries and clear the way for landing troops from
following transport ships, the seemingly deserted cannon atop Sabine Pass
opened fire. For almost an hour, Dick Dowling 's artillerymen sent a ruinous
hail of some 150 rounds into the enemy gunboats. The Sachem was soon dead
in the water, and surrendered along with the Clifton. A third gunboat, the
Arizona, turned tail and led the transports back to New Orleans. It was a
glorious victory for Dowling and Company "F." Union casualties included
more than 60 dead, wounded, and missing, with two gunboats and some 300
prisoners taken. Galveston and its port remained in Confederate hands, as it
would for the remainder of the war. The Battle of Sabine Pass, on September
8, 1863, was part of Texas history.

7. The long conflict, including several truces and the resumption of hostilities,
continued well over a century, until 1453. It was clear that by its very length
and ongoing destruction, the war tended to sap the resources and accomplish-
ments of both nations. Henry V of England seemed to have finally conquered
the French in 1419, when his invading forces took possession of both



320 William Ward Watkin and the Rice Institute



Normandy and portions of Aquitaine. Then came Joan of Arc's epic victory
at Orleans a decade later, and driving the English and their Burgundian allies
out of everything except the port of Calais, to thwart the triumph they had
seemed to have in their grasp.

8. The founders of the Cistercian order were former Benedictine monks who
returned to the ascetic life and manual labor required by the original Rule of
St. Benedict. Many abbots, however, were appointed by the reigning
monarch, and exempted from the solitary and self-denying existence of the
other monks. This was particularly true of those presiding over the first
churches in a capital city such as Paris.

9. Howard Hughes, Jr., had already produced such memorable motion pictures
as Scarface and Hell 's Angels in Hollywood, while still in his twenties. Other
successes would follow for him. As early as 1935, his inventive mind
allowed him to design the plane he piloted to a world record of 352 miles per
hour. Three years later, he flew a new Lockheed 14 around the world in little
more than 90 hours. And in the late 1930s, he had already started acquiring
what finally amounted to a half-billion-dollar stake in Trans-World Airlines.

10. "O.D." Wyatt had been one of the popular men on campus, well known for
his participation in an experiment before a capacity audience in William
Ward Watkin's Chemistry Lecture Hall. Professor Frank A. Pattie, a



Online LibraryPatrick James NicholsonWilliam Ward Watkin and the Rice Institute → online text (page 27 of 31)