Rice Institute campus area field, September 1910, pre-construction

Rice Institute campus area field, September 1910, pre-construction

After the trials ended in 1902 and estate settlements began, Captain Baker and the original Board of Trustees set about fulfilling Rice's dream to have an institute for higher learning in Houston, Texas. The funds from Rice's estate in 1904 were in the form of stocks and bonds based in railroads, municipal bonds, banks, as well as roughly $370,000 in promissory notes. By the good stewardship of the board, the endowment grew to more than $7 million in 1910. The endowment made possible the beginnings of the Institute and has gone on over the decades to be the bedrock of the university's budget.

Originally, it was thought that a six acre tract of downtown land, on Louisiana Street, would be an appropriate site for the Rice Institute. A building was constructed there and plans for more were being considered. It was soon realized however, that a much larger space would be needed. The Trustees settled up on a polygon shaped 300 acre tract of land with a long side along Main St., where campus is today.

Harris Gully on the Rice Institute campus

Harris Gully on the Rice Institute campus

In 1906, Trustee Raphael made a trip to visit various New York and Pennsylvania schools and study their administrative and financial groundings, campus layouts, student body size and courses of study.This trip served as important information gathering and helped the trustees begin to understand the scope of the decisions which need to be made. Surely it brought to light more questions than it did answers.

In 1907, the search for a President began in earnest when Chairman Baker directed Trustees Raphael and McAshan to compose a letter to be sent out to the academic community asking for recommendations. Recommendations of men were made by faculty at Stanford, Cornell and other universities. The campus area at the time was considered quite far from downtown Houston, and was a swamp-like prairie with some shrubbery and few trees - a blank slate.