Texas over Time: Old Main, Baylor University

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph collection. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.Old Main, Baylor University

  • Designed by architect William Lamour and completed in 1887, Old Main was the first new building at the new site for Baylor University after it moved from Independence. The original building had 17 classrooms and 24 offices.
  • Baylor students used to conspire to get on the roof of Old Main to put their class’ graduating year in large numbers on the roof and spires. However, erasing previous class’ efforts was not easy! The building’s roof became littered with fading numbers from years past.
  • The iconic Old Main spires had to be removed due to damage from the 1953 Waco tornado (as seen in the second photo above). They were not added back onto Old Main until a 1970s restoration. Before the decision was made to restore the building, there were considerations of tearing it down.

Photos date to approximately 1949, late 1950s, and 1990s and can be found in our Old Main photo files, which have been digitized and are available online in our ever-growing digital collection of Texas photos. See our Flickr set to get a closer look at the images above and a few photos of the spires being restored to the building.


  • Charles Guittard

    May 19, 2014 at 2:26 pm Reply

    Interesting. There is a blow-up in one of TTC’s back rooms showing Old Main with students hanging all over the building and in the windows and President Burleson and the student body down below on the lawn gazing into the camera. As I recall there were one or more students or faculty members on horseback. By using the zoom feature one can clearly make out the students up high in the building windows or high up on the building who might otherwise be hidden from view. One supposes President B knew they were there and approved or at least acquiesced since it was hard to put anything over on President B. I think this picture is also in an early Baylor annual, possibly the first one, and viewable in Baylor’s Digital Archives.

    • Amanda Norman

      May 19, 2014 at 4:42 pm Reply

      Good memory, Charles! Here’s a link to the photo in our Digital Collections. You can use the slider to zoom in on the photo and see, as you note, a couple people on horseback to the back left, people standing on the roof (!) roughly above them, and students hanging out the windows in the corner of the building. Whether President Burleson knew they were there or not…who knows, but he did seem to have a knack for knowing when mischief was going to be made.

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