Over the years the campus vista has changed dramatically from Davis Foute Eagleton’s dreary first impression of a dark gothic hulk in the middle of a weed field. As the College Park suburb grew up around the small campus, the campus gradually expanded into its suburban surroundings. These buildings and many others, such as the John Vinson house on the south side of the campus in the 1880s; the Tucker Inn, home of President E. B. Tucker during the 1930s and ‘40s, and the College Day Care Center in the1980s, both on Grand Avenue, played important roles in the life of Austin College and witnessed much of its untold history. With only one or two exceptions, they are all gone now, but if those walls could talk, what stories might they tell?
In 1903, Captain J. M. Thompson leased to and later gave to the college a large house on the south side of the campus that, after the Russo-Japanese war in 1905, came to be known as Togo House. The Thompson family had lived in it during the 1890s while their permanent residence, now known as Thompson House, was being constructed. Togo House provided accommodations for a relatively short time as it burned to the ground on April 27, 1910.
In 1922, members of the Alumni Association purchased a twenty-acre tract adjoining the campus and gave it to the college for the athletic program. Luckett Field was abandoned in favor of the new area named Cashion Field in honor of Mason Cashion, long-time secretary of the campus Y.M.C.A. who had also served for a time as athletic director. Cashion Field was located on the southeast corner of E. College and Bledsoe.
Located on E. College where it intersected N. Hurt, the gym provided the men with a full-sized basketball court for the first time, while the women continued to use the small gym in the Y building.
A block east of these buildings stood the first dormitory for women, Coffin Hall, erected in 1949 for the college’s centennial celebration. To make way for the centerpiece of the sesquicentennial, the new Student Center, Coffin Hall was demolished in 1998.
Two blocks south of the campus at the northwest corner of Lee Street and E. Brockett stood Lee House, a boarding house that was eventually acquired by the college and served students into the late 1970s.
Also in the extreme southwest sector of the campus during the 1940s stood a complex known as Vet Village.
A flood of returning World War II veterans engulfed the AC campus in the spring of 1946. To provide housing for these students, the college negotiated a contract with the federal government to build a total of fifty housing units for veterans on the south and west sides of Cashion Field on the north side of E. Brockett between Porter and Bledsoe.
In 1955, Vet Village underwent a facelift. Three two story units were sided with the wonderful new fire-proof material, asbestos, and moved to the south side of Brockett Street to form a quadrangle with two smaller units attached to the east and west wings. Completely refurbished inside, the larger units had four apartments and the smaller units, two. The quadrangle area was landscaped and furnished with yard equipment. There were sixteen apartments that commanded a waiting list from the married students attending Austin College. South of these units on Pacific Street were smaller units, some duplexes, some single apartments.
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