Southwestern University Main Building
Southwestern University Main Building
The north facade having originally no projections or indentiations, has fenestration which repeats that of the south facade. A single story service wing originally containing the dining room and kitchen has been altered.
The overall effect of the exterior design is one of austerity and of restrained but clear articulation of both ornamental and functional components. The deeply-set windows emphasize the massiveness of the limestone walls.
An interior courtyard originally open for ventilation to interior rooms, has been enclosed and is surrounded by open galleries at the second and third levels supported by simple limestone piers. The galleries are for circulation and are enclosed by wooden railings, thus presenting a spacious and airy effect in contrast with the exterior of the building.
Completed in 1900 the Main Building is the administration building for Southwestern University, a Methodist denominational school in Georgetown, Texas, the oldest institution of higher learning in the State of Texas. The Main Building is a three-story, Richardsonian-Romanesque, limestone structure.
Southwestern University was founded in 1873 at the side of Georgetown College on charters granted to Rutersville College (Fayette County) in 1840, the Weslayan Male and Female College at San Augustine in 1844, McKenzie College, Clarksville in 1848 and Soule University Chappell Hill in 1856. The combined charter submitted to the Legislature bore the name "Texas University". The Legislature was at that time planning a state school and reserved that title for the University in Austin and instead approved the charter for "Southwestern University"
The original designs for the building came from the Physics Professor Robert S. Hyer, who later became Regent (president) of the University. President Hyer had traveled to Boston about 1890 and had been influenced by the work of Henry Hobson Richardson. Though he was not a professional architect he had constructed a working model of a church in Georgetown , showing the Richardsonian influence from which that structure was later erected. Subsequent to his preliminary designs for the Main Building at Southwestern, the Board of Trustees adopted plans and specifications or the construction by the architectural and engineering firm of Layton and Raymond, who undoubtedly had much input from Professor Hyer. The financing of the building was arranged with gifts of money and land, among the latter, a parcel of plantation land willed by General Sam Houston by his daughter at his death.
On securing the necessary funds for construction, a contract for $50,095 was awarded by the Trustees to Flume and Waters ton of Austin in 1898, "Waterston" being the same Waterston and Sons who were stone cutters from the British Isles imported more than a decade earlier to work on the State Capitol. After Hyer became Regent in 1898 he continued his supervisory role throughout the construction of the Main Building. Still the administration building, "Old Main" is a significant landmark in Georgetown. MOOD HALL - Mood Hall, built as a men's dormitory, was designed to blend with the architecture of the Administration Building and thereby give the campus a unified architectural appearance. Mood Hall, named for the first Regent (President) of Southwestern, Frances Asbury Mood, was completed during the term of Regent Robert S. Hyer and formally accepted by the Board of Trustees May 11, 1908. Regent Hyer moved to Dallas three years later and was instrumental in founding Southern Methodist University. The Board of Trustees and Regent Hyer wanted a facility to compare favorably with that of any other university. Rooms were to be designed to be ventilated naturally with every room having an outside opening and the best equipment available was to be installed in the building. The dormitory would have its own heating and power plant and would be designed to have complete plumbing facilities on each floor. The kitchen was to be outfitted with the most efficient and up-to-date equipment to make Mood Hall is very desirable boarding place. The construction contract for $58,000.00 was awarded to Belford Lumber Company of Georgetown who in turn sub contracted the masonry work to Waterston & Sons of Austin, who had earlier completed work on the Administration Building for Southwestern, as well as the State Capitol. The architect was C.H. Page of Austin. Major modification to the buildings including the closing up of the open interior courtyard and the entrance court on the south occurred in 1943 as a result of the U.S. Navy V-12 program. The University entered entered into a contractual agreement with the Navy who in turn wanted to utilize the Kuykendall Dormitor, previously housing the women students, for the V12 program and consequently Mood Hall was modified to be a dormitory for women. In 1965, Mood Hall became an office building for organizations and the faculty. BIBLIOGRAPHY Jones, Dr. Ralph, Southwestern University 1840-1961, Austin,
1973. Minutes, Meeting of Board of Trustees, Southwestern
University, 1896-1908. Scarbrough, C. S., Land of Good Water, Georgetown, Texas,
1973. Southwestern Annual, 1943.