Industrial Arts Building


University Avenue
Map | ID#:


Sep. 8, 1909:
Local Board of Directors solicits bids

Feb. 22, 1910:
Cornerstone laid


Oct. 1982:




Arthur O. Watson

W. A. Norris (Crockett, TX)


The Industrial Arts Building was the fourth permanent building on the Sam Houston Normal Institute campus, and the first structure on the western side of the quadrangle.

In the early 1900s, the Texas Legislature realized the need for Vocational Education to be taught in rural schools across Texas. This initiative led to the establishment of the Department of Agriculture at Sam Houston Normal College in 1909. The following year, a new building was authorized by the 31st Legislature: "twenty-five thousand dollars having been appropriated for its erection and equipment. The building had been requested by President Harry Estill...and its cost, as stipulated in the advertisement inserted for three successive issues of the Dallas News, was not to exceed $20,000." A $19,500 bid for construction by W. A. Norris of Crockett was accepted by the Board of Directors in 1909 [1].

Designed by prominent architect Arthur O. Watson, the new building was described as containing "two stories and a basement" upon its completion and being "a handsome structure of red pressed brick...especially designed for the purpose for which it used [1]." During the construction, a buildup of water in the foundation prompted made it necessary to install a drainage system.

Built primarily for manual training, domestic science, and agriculture classes, the building - like many others on campus - accommodated other uses and unofficial names throughout its history: it was known as the de facto Agriculture Building to most students and faculty and an early Alcalde calls the building the "Old Administration Hall" [2].

Students that took classes in the building often had hands-on experiences at various locations in and around Huntsville, including the old College Farm and Dairy, Country Campus, the Agriculture Center, and the Horticulture Center.

There was a proposal in the early 1980s to bestow Austin Hall, the Main Building, the Peabody Library, and the Industrial Arts Building with the status of historic landmarks. However, at the suggestion of Campus Master Plan, and because of more foundation problems, high construction costs, and a decrease in property value, the seventy year-old building was instead demolished.

The 1983 Alcalde notes a time capsule was found during the demolition. Inside were a promotional booklet about SHNI, a list of the senior class for the 1909-10 school year, and a February 13, 1910 issue of the Huntsville Post-Item about the planned festivities for the February 22 laying of the cornerstone of the Agriculture, Manual Training, and Domestic Sciences Building [3].


Industrial Arts Building

A view from the west at the first four buildings of SHNI: Austin College, Main, Peabody hidden by trees, and the rear entrance of the Industrial Arts Building, complete with contemporary cars at the back door. You can also make out a few cars along Avenue K (University Avenue) at the bottom of the photograph.

Industrial Arts Building

An aerial photograph of the western edge of the quadrangle includes the Industrial Arts Building and power plant.

Industrial Arts Building

A contemporary photograph of the site of the Industrial Arts Building.


[1] Vision Realized, p.74-5 (1970)
[2] Alcalde, 1917
[3] Alcalde, 1983

About the site

The Buildings of Sam Houston State University website documents the physical changes of the SHSU campus in Huntsville from its inception in 1879 through tomorrow. The alumnus-run site details changes to the academic, residential, and historical buildings and other prominent landmarks.