Sunday, May 7, 2017

Wasn't That a Pity and a Shame?

This morning, May 17, 2017. I was notified that a very old friend (older even than I, although I dated her aunt on the night of my graduation), who has returned to the town where I had lived in high school, was attending First United Methodist Church in Bay City, TX, where we had attended in our younger years,

I can painfully recall when I was in my third year of Architecture School at UT Austin  (back in those ancient times when it was simply "The University of Texas" or, as expressed on some patriotic bumper stickers, "The University").  I was home for the long Holidays Break, and my dad took me to an approval committee meeting for the sanctuary building which now stands in the old location.

The architect, Edward Bodet of Houston, made a beautiful presentation.  He had incorporated the structure with the existing ancillary buildings to open onto a courtyard, with a covered walkway which he termed "cloisters" joining it with the other buildings. the bell tower forming a central focus for the complex.  It was a glorious sight for a young student who was heavily into trying to learn design.

The consensus of the committee was that the building should be turned around, with the front doors facing sixth street, and they wanted to scrap the "cloisters" as a wasteful expense.

One of the more influential members insisted they keep the covered walkway.  Surely they could find the money somewhere, but the same man was a ringleader in reversing the sanctuary.

By ignoring the courtyard, the "cloisters" have been made a covered walkway which are handy during rainy or brutally sunny weather, but serve no other purpose.  The courtyard is nothing more than a grassy open space which features, for the most part, the outdoor units for the air conditioners.

Later, a fellow student who had worked for Bodet during the summer that the design was being completed, said that the committee had wanted to have a perpetual candle flame at the alter. which would be visible to passers by.

Having passed by the completed building a number of times over the years since I heard about the light, I have never noticed it, if it indeed exists.

In school we were encouraged to remember a popular definition for camel,..."A horse designed by a committee".

I wonder what people now think of this camel?  I noticed that if I do a GoogleMap search for the church, it directs me to the intersection of 5th and Avenue H, a block away from that controversial entrance.