About the President's Home
The First President's Home: 1893-1963
The first President's Home at Texas A&M was built in 1893 for President Lawrence Sullivan Ross in the north-central section of campus at an estimated cost of $4,500. At the time it was constructed, it was called "an elegant mansion" typical of what "the well-to-do Texan built for his family."
The eleven-room, two-story home had a steep hipped roof, twelve-foot ceilings and large rooms, as well as porches on both floors that extended across the front and wrapped around parts of two sides. It featured elaborate gingerbread ornamentation typical of the era. The porches had turned columns, brackets, pendants, and an especially ornate balustrade on the first floor. In addition, there was gable ornamentation, a highly decorated tower and a bay window off the stair landing.
Time took a toll, and in the 1930s, the porches were rebuilt in a Colonial style. Square columns replaced the turned ones and the gingerbread ornamentation was taken down, leaving only the tower and bay window as original. In addition, a picket fence with gateposts featuring delicately turned finials was lost over time.
Other presidents and their families who lived in the original home were Lafayette Lumpkin Foster, David Houston, Henry Hill Harrington, Robert Milner, William Bizzell, T.O. Walton, David Morgan and Earl Rudder.
The Current President's Home
The current home is the second presidential home built on the Texas A&M campus. The first, built in 1893, was destroyed by fire on January 26, 1963. All five members of the family of President James Earl Rudder who were there at the time escaped unharmed. President Rudder was in his office at the Coke Building when the fire broke out.
At that time, it was the oldest building on campus. The fire quickly consumed the entire home, but with the assistance of firefighters and nearly 100 neighbors and students, almost all of the furniture on the first floor was saved, some of which is used in the home today.
The home was built on the south edge of campus in 1965 at a cost of $60,000, to feature a combination of elegance and informality. It was planned for the dual purpose of serving as the presidential residence with facilities for official duties and functions, and to meet the needs of the private life of the presidential family.
The firm of Matthews and Associates utilized a design taken from the Georgian Colonial period. The architect and builder were Aggies. President Rudder joked that the home was the "best bargain the State of Texas ever had." Much of the home was donated by former students and other friends of Texas A&M. Concrete and plumbing were furnished by Aggies, along with doors, windows and design services for the home's interior. Even the bricks, handmade about 26 miles north of College Station in Hearne, were recycled from a demolished science hall on campus. Former student Jean Donaho decorated the home at no charge.
Inside, high ceilings, wooden floors and antique-style moldings create a roomy yet comfortable environment. The entryway is dominated by an impressive white marble hallway and an unobstructed view of the window wall at the back of the home.
To the left of the entryway is the formal living room. At 600 square feet, it is the largest single room in the house. One of the home's fireplaces is found along the south wall, with a piano rescued from the 1963 fire taking up a corner of the room. Another piece from the original home is the breakfront containing items donated by former students, as well as books published by the Texas A&M University Press.
To the right of the entryway is the formal dining room, which contains a mahogany dining table that seats twelve. Sterling silver pieces donated by a former student also are on display.
The end of the entry hall opens onto a family room with a wood-beam ceiling and a fireplace. Against one wall is a bookcase stocked with releases from the Texas A&M University Press. Against another wall are two display cases donated by the widow of a former student, which contain a series of Wedgewood plates depicting early buildings on campus, and other items given by former students.
The north end of the first floor contains the breakfast room and the kitchen area. Off the kitchen and family room is a porch, which was enclosed in the early 1980s. Private living quarters are upstairs.
Residents of the current President's Home have been Earl and Margaret Rudder, 1965-1970; Jack and Margaret Williams, 1970-77; Jarvis and Alma Miller, 1977-80; Frank and Renee Vandiver, 1980-88; Bill and Jayne Mobley, 1988-93; Ray and Sally Bowen, 1994-2002; Bob and Becky Gates, 2002-2006; Elsa and Peter Murano, 2008-09; and Bowen and Karin Loftin, 2009-present.