Living Dangerously in Old Science
By Robert Reid
Old Science Hall had seen better
days prior to its occupation by the new oceanography department in 1950.
It was a wall-bearing brick structure with two floors and an attic (occupied
primarily by bats and rodents) which oceanography shared with another unlucky
department. "Wall-bearing" refers to the brick walls that supported
the floors above and the roof, without the aid of steel for structural integrity
(not to mention peace of mind of the occupants). The building was in such
a hazardous state that the north wall facing the original library building
bulged outward in varying amounts dependent upon the season of the year.
The detachment of the wall from the second floor was of considerable concern
to the occupants of a large room on the first floor immediately next to
the errant wall. This room had a partition separating the joint office of
Bob Reid and Basil Wilson from the drafting room, occupied by Jack Grant
and his part-time assistant, Helen Perry. Anyone entering this room from
the hall (including deans and building inspectors) could not help but notice
a makeshift gauge attached to the wandering wall to measure its movement.
If and when the gauge marker ever got into the red area, all hands were
to evacuate the building. Fortunately that did not happen before the department
was transferred to the somewhat better Goodwin Hall. As a post script to
Old Science Hall, which was torn down immediately after our departure from
it, there is a story that many of the bricks from that old building were
used in construction of the university presidential estate on campus. It
is possible that they provide the floor of the exterior terrace, a much
more stable location than whence they came.
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Oceanography, Texas A&M
Updated July 20, 1995