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Sam Houston State University (Sam Houston Normal Institute, Sam Houston State Teachers College)

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1879 opened. 1700 Sam Houston Ave.

The Presbyterian Church established Austin College in 1849 on this site. The college moved to Sherman in 1876 and in 1879 deeded the Austin Hall building to the newly founded Sam Houston Normal Institute. The institute, which received financial aid from the George Peabody Fund, was the first state-supported school in Texas for teacher training.

At the north end of the old quadrangle, Austin Hall (1852) is the oldest extant college building in Texas. It was gutted by fire in 1982, with only foundations and partial brick walls remaining, but a reconstruction in 1986 by Ray Bailey Architects replicated original exterior and interior features. The two-story tawny brick Greek Revival building has a three-bay front with a two-story Doric portico. An octagonal cupola with lancet windows and a low, faceted dome rises from the flat roof.

North of Austin Hall, a terraced garden follows the outline of now demolished Old Main building (1891, Alfred Mueller), the first permanent structure built by the State of Texas for teacher training. The Peabody Library (1902, J. L. O’Connor) combines classical and Romanesque features; after 1929 the building served other academic functions. The Dan Rather Communication Building (1982, Ray Bailey Architects) is substantially larger than its historic neighbors, but its form steps back from the quadrangle to minimize its bulk while making a transition across a site sloping from the knoll occupied by Austin Hall to the lower elevation of Avenue J. The tawny brick walls are similar to adjacent buildings in order to blend with the overall tone of the campus but without mimicking a historic style. The building houses the Mass Communications Department and is named for broadcast journalist and Sam Houston State University alumnus Dan Rather.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


What's Nearby


Gerald Moorhead et al., "Sam Houston State University (Sam Houston Normal Institute, Sam Houston State Teachers College)", [Huntsville, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: East, North Central, Panhandle and South Plains, and West, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019, 28-29.

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