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See also Campus Landscape


Building UTEP

Site Acquisition

Following the Fire of 1916 at the original site of the school in October 1916, immediate plans were made to relocate the school given the unfavorable environmental conditions that developed following Francisco "Pancho" Villa's raid on neighboring New Mexico the previous March. Over the course of six months following the raid, over 60,000 army troops and several thousand horses poured into Fort Bliss, swelling the size of the fort and surrounding the school. An inadequate water supply at the site, as demonstrated by how quickly the main building was destroyed despite the efforts of hundreds of soldiers to extinguish the blaze, greatly influenced the decision to relocate.

Vernon E. Ware, a local builder, along with four other investors (Winchester Cooley, H.T. Ware, A.S. Valdespino, and J.C. Rous, Jr.), purchased from J.J. Mundy 150 acres of land above Mundy Heights for $30,000 in November 1916. The purchasers announced that that they would donate twenty acres to the state if the School of Mines would relocate to the site. Richard F. Burges, a member of the site selection committee appointed by Governor James Ferguson, immediately contacted owners of the property along the arroyo that ran through the site and secured from them easement rights. Burges, a nationally known conservationist and water project specialist, envisioned a dam on the arroyo to create a boating lake for school. Burges' vision of a college regatta on the campus lake was not to be as the dam was never built.

Site Layout

In December 1916, the faculty of the School of Mines, working with El Paso architect Charles Gibson, surveyed the new twenty acre location and took several photographs of the site. Gibson, utilizing a somewhat new and revolutionary architectural technique, used the photographs to superimposed perspective renderings of his designs for the buildings on them. Worrell informed U.T. president Robert Vinson that Gibson had prepared an "artistic group of buildings to fit the landscape" of the new site.

Despite the time and effort Gibson placed into the project, the Building Committee of the U.T. Board of Regents awarded the commission to the architectural firm of Trost and Trost. Henry Trost, working from instructions provided to him from President Vinson, departed from the Bhutanese style. This infuriated Worrell who promptly wrote Vinson, complaining the style was no longer Bhutanese, but "Trost and Trost." Trost reworked his designs in consultation with the faculty and resubmitted a set of elegantly designed Bhutanese inspired structures that complimented the natural landscape.

History of the Architecture

For more on the history of UTEP's Bhutanese architecture, click here.

During the 1930s, Percy McGhee inherited the mantle form Henry Trost to design the buildings on campus. Beginning with the Centennial Museum in 1936, he then designed the Administration-Library Building (1938, now Geological Sciences Building), Bell Hall (1947), Hudspeth Hall (1947), Cotton Memorial (1947), Student Union Building (1948), Magoffin Auditorium (1951), Science Building (1951, now Psychology Building), Miners Hall (1951), and the Woman's Gym (1951, now the site of the Undergraduate Learning Center).




U.T. Presidents papers, Briscoe Center for American History, Austin, Tex.


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