VIDEO: Around UL for the Summer? Take an Odd Tour Through Campus
With the reopening of the Student Union and the Quad’s completion, new social spaces and forums are opening around The University of Louisiana at Lafayette; however, there are spots on campus — whether apparent or not — that are not as widely known or are buried under the hype.
Here are some of the spots you may have missed, whether you’re a first-time freshman or fifth-year senior.
A. Hays Town Building
Next to scenic spaces in Girard Park and the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, the A. Hays Town Building is more than just a spot for celebratory photographs.
Consisting of 225,000 bricks from the original Martin Hall, cypress flooring from a New Orleans convent and French slate tiles that were originally on ballasts in sailing ships, the building is metaphorically the sum of Louisiana’s parts. Built by 1922 Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute alumnus A. Hays Town in 1967, the building’s design is a nod to the Hermitage Plantation in Darrow, Louisiana.
Alumni Center Grounds Sept. 11 Memorial
On Sept. 11, 2001, 1969 University of Southwestern Louisiana alumnus and Vietnam War veteran Robert Hymel was working in the Pentagon when he and 124 other service workers were killed in an attack on the building by terrorists with a hijacked plane.
In his honor, a limestone shard from the wreckage was donated by Stanley Martin-Felix Ducrest American Legion Post 69 commander Lester Guidry, who donated shards to other victims.
The memorial is surrounded by benches and is close to a red-brick gazebo and natural pond.
The fruit of UL Lafayette civil engineering students’ labor sits between Fletcher Hall and the Girard Park Circle Parking Garage. Installed in 2013, the crane was built for “Engineering the Impossible,” a series on the Discovery Channel that aired in 2010.
Dupré Library Echo Circle
This spot in front of the Edith Garland Dupré Library is a meeting point near the center of campus; however, it doubles as an acoustic anomaly if you are standing in the middle of the seating area. The trick is to find a time where foot traffic is low and to yell or stomp. The sound bounces off the curved benches and library entryway.
BeauSoleil Louisiana Solar Home
An eco-friendly, award-winning home rests just outside Fletcher Hall and overlooks Girard Park. The minimalist, solar-powered habitat placed first in Market Viability and People’s Choice in the 2009 International Solar Decathlon Competition. Its accoutrements include a rainwater-catchment system, energy-efficient lighting fixtures and interchangeable building structure, which allows residents to expand or contract.
Passersby can look into the house and get a glimpse of the compact home, complete with a functioning kitchen, table and living room area. A picture of the award-winning team who constructed the house is framed and hanging on the wall.
Martin Hall visitors are greeted by a series of oaks planted by Edwin Stephens, the first Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute president, in 1901. The Century Oaks are only a few live oak trees located throughout campus. Their swooping branches accent sidewalks and streets.
The First University President’s Statue
Standing in front of Martin Hall is the first university president Edwin Stephens, Ph.D., with an oak seedling in his right hand and a fleur-de-lis on his ascot. Stephens planted the Century Oaks at the beginning of the 20th century.
Like the university, the oaks grew in size and spread. Under Stephens, the university curriculum expanded, and the president also directed building construction. By his retirement in 1938, the university began granting bachelor’s degrees. Stephens also began the Live Oak Society, which has catalogued more than 7,000 trees across 400 states.
The status was erected in 2014 by local artist Patrick Miller.
Pillars of Progress
The space at the corner of Rex Street and St. Mary Boulevard looks like it could be a bus stop — however, this spot stands in place of the restaurant where the university’s first African-American students often gathered. The pillars represent the courage, faith, justice and knowledge of those who filed suit against the university and enrolled amid a time of violence and fear surrounding integration.
In 1954, Clara Dell Constantine, Shirley Taylor, Charles Vincent and Martha Conway filed a suit against SLI when they were prohibited from enrolling. Constantine v. SLI was part of an NAACP campaign to incite integration across the U.S. Two years later, Christiana Smith became SLI’s first black graduate. Erected in 2004, the pillars immortalize the first African-American students to enroll and graduate from the university.
Gaines Center stained glass
The third floor of the library is where words louder than a faint whisper cease and history speaks. This floor contains UL Lafayette public documents, Cajun music and culture and the work of the university’s writer-in-residence emeritus, Ernest J. Gaines.
The center dedicated to him is an international center for Gaines-related scholarship and work, according to the Ernest Gaines Center website. The gateway from the third-floor quiet zone to Gaines’s lifeblood is a door encompassed by a stained-glass depiction of Louisiana. The depiction of the state’s landscapes was created by artist Karen Bourque, and behind it lies a myriad of Louisiana history.
Photo courtesy of UL Lafayette’s website
See the sites for yourself by making your own tour and share it with us on our Facebook or Twitter! Here’s our route:
Photos by Haoua Amadou