Texas Over Time: Waco’s Alico Building-Architecture and a Changing City

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

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

Waco’s Alico Building

The 22-story ALICO Building, also known as the American-Amicable Life Insurance Company Building, was completed in 1911, and designed by architects Roy E. Lane and Sanguinet & Staats. When completed, it was the tallest office building in the southwestern United States. Additionally, its location at 5th and Austin Avenue was once part of the city’s central business district and the building was a vital part of the city’s economy. It even survived a catastrophic and deadly F5 tornado in 1953.

To remain economically viable, it needed to keep pace with the rapidly changing business climate of Waco in the 1960s. For example, structures such as Lake Air Mall were being developed in West Waco and others around Valley Mills Drive. Consequently, the city’s landmark ALICO Building received major exterior updates. The lower street-level façade and the recently constructed Alico Center and parking garage were all given a mid-century inspired design element. In 1964, Waco’s then mayor, Roger Conger, compared the groundbreaking to these facilities and modifications to “the historic groundbreaking for the Amicable building more than fifty years ago [1909].”

The closing down of a section of Austin Avenue to create the Austin Avenue Pedestrian Mall in the late 1960s also put the tall building and facilities at the front and center of one of the city’s many Urban Renewal Projects. However, this pedestrian mall project was short-lived and the street opened to traffic again in the mid-1980s. Adjoining structures with matching Alico Center façades were eventually pulled down. As a result, the building and its parking garage now stand as a lone reminder to this time when mid-century inspired architectural styling met a much older and traditionally designed skyscraper.

 

This Meta Slider shows the Alico Building in about 1926 and a recently taken image. Waco’s famous Old Corner Drug Store once occupied a portion of the building’s ground floor. The original design of the front and side facades are evident as well as the original design of the first few upper floors. Older image taken by Fred Gildersleeve (Waco Amicable Life Insurance Company records), The Texas Collection, Baylor University; and a recent picture by GH.

 

This Meta Slider shows a circa 1960 image by Windy Drum, (Waco Amicable Life Insurance Company records), The Texas Collection, Baylor University; and a recent picture taken by GH.

 

The structure’s upper floors remain virtually unchanged with the exception of the large red ALICO signs on both sides. On another side below the flag and above top windows, the letters A L I C O are placed. Recent photo taken by GH.

 

Research Ready: January 2019

Each month, we post an update to notify our readers about the latest archival collections to be processed and some highlights of our print material acquisitions. These resources are primed for research and are just a sampling of the many resources to be found at The Texas Collection!Continue Reading

The Ellington Field Photographic Collection

Example of a moving carpet, used for bombardier training.

by Benna Vaughan, Manuscripts Archivist

The Ellington Field Photographic collection is one of two new photographic collections obtained by The Texas Collection that focus on World War I. Though currently divided and used for both civil and military purposes, Ellington Field bears a long history of being at the front lines of training for United States aviation services.

This first image is called a “moving carpet” and was used to train bombardiers for combat. Representing the landscape they would see from their sighting mechanism; these men were trained to recognize geographic features and potential targets. Some images in this collection also show WW1 military bi-planes and parts of their structure such as elevator controls and bomb releases. Photographs of soldiers recording bomb shots and the tools used to take bombing measurements are also included.

Planes flying in formation.

Other images of military bi-planes consist of planes on the ground and flying in formation. This time, 1917-1920, coincides with the infancy of aerial photography and there are some great photos of formation flying in this collection. A few images focus on the ground and areas around Houston, Texas, but the clear majority are of planes. The bi-plane in this photograph is a De Havilland 4 Bomber taken on January 4, 1919.

De Havilland 4 Bomber.

Images of plane crashes are also prominent in this collection. The back of this photograph reads:

Tail-spin from 5,000 feet – unhurt. Lt. Platt, pilot. Got up, smoked a cigarette, and wanted to walk away. Taken to hospital and discharged in 24 hours. Accident due to inexperience.

Another crash image tells us:

2nd Lt. W.C. Stalker, Pilot. August 30, 1918. Total Wreck. Ship came down in a spin from about 1,000 feet, and hit nose first, driving engine back into the gas tank, and tank back into front seat. Pilot probably was climbing too steep and slipped off into a spin. Seems unable to remember what happened, due probably to blow received when he crashed.

Tailspin from 1,000 feet.

One supposes that the images were studied and used as documentation for pilot and plane review.

The images from the Ellington Field Photograph collection depict a time of growth and change in the way America approached aerial maneuvers and combat. Photos displaying planes, flying formations, pilots, plane crashes and even images of workshops and hangers, come together in this collection and give a representation of what it was like to be a pilot in training during World War I.

This collection is open for research and those interested in viewing it are encouraged to contact us at txcoll@baylor.edu. All images in the post can be found in the Ellington Field Photographic collection, Accession #3937, Box 1, Folder 5, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Research Ready: December 2018

Each month, we post an update to notify our readers about the latest archival collections to be processed and some highlights of our print material acquisitions. The books included this month are not new to our holdings but were deemed appropriate as a celebration of the Christmas season. These resources are primed for research and are just a sampling of the many resources to be found at The Texas Collection!Continue Reading

Research Ready: October 2018

Each month, we post an update to notify our readers about the latest archival collections to be processed and some highlights of our print material acquisitions. These resources are primed for research and are just a sampling of the many resources to be found at The Texas Collection!Continue Reading

Lives in the Archives: The A. Reilly and Eunice B. Tooley Copeland Papers

A. Reilly and Eunice B. Tooley Copeland Papers #1100, Box 1, Folder 1.
Reilly’s criminal libel suit later became the subject of this pamphlet, written to show that God protects those who preach his truth.

by Jackson Hager, Graduate Assistant

One of the great joys of being able to work in an archive like The Texas Collection is how often one, amid the stacks and piles of collections, encounters remarkably human stories. Even when the collection is just a few folders, an archivist can sometimes feel like they have encountered a real person, with all the flaws and perfections that come with being a human. That was my experience as I was processing the A. Reilly and Eunice B. Tooley Copeland papers, where I came to catch a glimpse of the Waco’s past through the eyes of a passionate Baptist preacher and his wife.

Antonio Reilly Copeland was born on January 7, 1889, in Marquez, Texas. His future wife, Eunice Bessie Tooley, was born in Buffalo Springs, Texas, on November 30, 1891. The couple first met in 1903 and married in the summer in 1916. While Eunice studied music in Houston, Reilly attended college first in Commerce, then Tehuacana, Rome, and finally the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. After the couple had had several children, the family made their entrance into Waco history when they moved there in 1923, as Reilly had been offered the pulpit at the Tabernacle Baptist Church, located at 1500 15th and Clay Street.

A. Reilly and Eunice B. Tooley Copeland Papers #1100, Box 1, Folder 5.
Reilly’s writings show both a deep knowledge of scripture and a deep sense of God’s involvement within the world, as evidenced by the first page of one of his journals, titled “Some Signs Before Great Tribulation”

During his four decades of leading the Tabernacle community, Reilly was a prolific speaker and writer. His writings reveal a strong sense of right and wrong, and a zeal for adhering to what he saw as biblical truth. His confrontational style of writing, however, brought conflict. The most famous example of this is when Reilly was charged with criminal libel in 1925, after writing several letters detailing the moral failings of local Waco politicians. The charges were dropped in 1928, however, and Reilly continued to preach and write. He spent the latter half of his career delving deep into biblical study and debate. As evidenced by his letters, Reilly participated often in the debates surrounding Fundamentalism and Neo-Orthodoxy, and his journals show a deep interest in biblical prophecy and how it related to world at large. Reilly’s preaching was not just reserved for the pulpit, as he hosted a radio program for station WACO from 1941 to 1954. By the time of his resignation in the early 1960’s, Reilly had been a public voice for Baptists within the Waco community for almost forty years.

A. Reilly and Eunice B. Tooley Copeland Papers #1100, Box 3, Folder 7.
Eunice’s memoir covers nearly a century and contains a large amount of photos from nearly every decade of her life.

While Reilly’s writings may provide one picture of who he was, Eunice’s own memoirs help fashion a fuller image. Eunice dedicated more than half of her book to her time with Reilly and the family they made together, and we find that Reilly was a kind and loving husband and father. Eunice’s writings help shine a light on what it was like to be a preacher’s wife in the early 20th century, and how they dealt with the many changes that occurred during those turbulent years.

The lives of A. Reilly and Eunice Copeland may appear, in the grand scheme of things, of little impact. But it is through the small, personal stories of regular people that we obtain a deeper human connection to our past.

If you are interested in learning more about A. Reilly and Eunice Copeland, feel free to contact us at The Texas Collection and view the collection’s finding aid here!

Research Ready: August 2018

Each month, we post an update to notify our readers about the latest archival collections to be processed and some highlights of our print material acquisitions. These resources are primed for research and are just a sampling of the many resources to be found at The Texas Collection!Continue Reading

Research Ready: July 2018

Each month, we post an update to notify our readers about the latest archival collections to be processed and some highlights of our print material acquisitions. These resources are primed for research and are just a sampling of the many resources to be found at The Texas Collection!Continue Reading

John N. Rowe III Papers: A Texas Treasure

by Benna Vaughn, Manuscripts Archivist

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, The Texas Collection was the recipient of eight separate donations of materials from John N. Rowe, III. These donations collectively became the John N. Rowe III papers. Rowe, renown numismatist and collector from Dallas, began collecting bank notes as a small boy, and what began as a hobby became a life-long passion. This collection represents that passion and is steeped in Texas and Mexican history.

It isn’t every day that an archivist works with a collection that causes “oohhs” and “aahhs” with every turn of the page. The John N. Rowe, III papers are such a collection. It contains so much early Texas and Mexican history that it is hard not to stop and read every document. One of the most fascinating items in the papers is dated October 11, 1835, written to General Stephen F. Austin, and begins like this:

Bexar has fallen! Our brave citizen volunteers, with a persevering bravery and heroic valor, unparalleled in the annals of warfare, have triumphed over a force of twice their number and compelled the slaves of despotism to yield, vanquished by the ever resistless arms of freemen soldiers.

Now, if you are a Texan, that’ll wake you up in the morning! And just holding the letter, turned dark and torn in places, gives you goosebumps. It brings alive the feeling and zeal of the Texas Revolution.Continue Reading