Sam Houston State University Works to Restore Austin Hall

By: Michael Oder Email
By: Michael Oder Email

It's one of the oldest buildings this side of the Mississippi still used for high education. Sam Houston State University's Austin Hall has stood the test of time.

Unfortunately, it showed.

Spend any time on the campus at Sam Houston State University and you'll notice there's a lot of work going on. Crews aren't constructing something new, but restoring something old.

"It was built in the 1850s and over the years it's just deteriorated," says Chad Huff, SHSU's Facilities Architect. He's talking about Austin Hall.

It opened it's doors back in 1851 and time hasn't been gentle.

Water erosion, exterior cracks and a fire that destroyed Old Main have all taken their toll. Restoring the building has been a challenge.

"Well, they don't build buildings they way this one is built anymore," says Huff.

"Nearly 16 inch thick brick walls. You know, it's all brick and mortar construction. So, to actually pull that a part and see how they built it and replace it as close as you can, that is a significant struggle to do on a building like this."

The struggle is keeping the history of Austin Hall intact.

"You can walk up to the building and immediately see the history with all the student names etched in the side of the bricks," says Huff.

Bricks from Sam Houston's past that are being preserved for the future.

Restoration crews didn't remove a single a brick from the exterior of the building. They just replaced the mortar and kept the original student-etched bricks.

The project should be complete by mid-May of 2012.

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