with other cultural icons: standing behind
a basketball backboard illuminated
by erie light, behind the giant hamburger
on the roof of the Richmond Avenue Icehouse,
or adjacent the Goodyear blimp.
Other successful images show the transfiguration
of the building as it reflects the
brilliance of the sun or subtle glow after
Unfortunately Presence is seriously
flawed by its design. A large folio measuring
twelve by sixteen inches, the images
are bled to the edge of the page so that
most photographs cover a two page spread
slightly larger than sixteen by twenty
inches. Because the images run over the
center of the book, their visual continuity
is destroyed. We never see the Tower as
clearly as the photographer did, but see
two halves of his vision butted together.
The worst damage is done to the symmetrical
view of the wall water and Tower,
where the Tower is buried in the binding.
A second flaw is the light weight paper
stock. With a volume this size, every turn
of the page causes a crescent crease. Certainly
the book's format gives it an imposing
presence, but there are clay feet.
The essays and photographs make this
book an enjoyable piece that documents
an important contribution to the Houston
skyline and possibly to Houston culture.
A few images underscore the building's
spiritual qualities and reveal the
sense of presence of Gothic architecture.
Most of the images merely reproduce the
image of the building without suggesting
those transcendent feelings. Ultimately
Presence remains a book about physical
rather than symbolic presence.
Richard Pearce-Moses is Historic
Photography Project Co-ordinator for
the Texas Historical Foundation.
Commissioners of Texas
A work exploring the evolution of one
of the state's most important offices, using
a series of short biographies to evoke the
spirit of the Commissioners, has for some
time been a wish of present Land Commissioner
Garry Mauro. The idea was
suggested, in part, by former U.S. Senator
Ralph Yarborough, shortly after Mr.
Mauro took his place as the twenty-fourth
Land Commissioner. Placed in an historical
context, this collection of sketches of
the Commissioners and a concise listing,
by number and kind, of Texas land patents,
illustrates the development of the
office through the achievements of the
men who held it.
This 9x6, 133 page paperback is printed
in brown ink on cream colored stock.
Each commissioner's biography is
enhanced by a full page portrait in sepia
tones. It is a readable introduction to the
twenty-four Commissioners who, for 150
years, have overseen the management of
Texas' most valuable asset-land.
The Land Commissioners of
150 Years of the General Land Office
( )rmmissionle' (<1rry 'lauro * Prefa(e b) Ralp)h Y'aborough
Please detach and enclose in an envelope and return along with your check or money order.
The Land Commissioners of Texas
Please send copy(s) @$12.00 (check or money order only)
of The Land Commissioners of Texas to:
Make checks payable to Texas General Land Office
tax and postage included
please allow 3-4 weeks for delivery
Texas General Land Office
Archives and Records Divsion
1700 N. Congress
Austin, TX 78701
Common Schools of Central Texas:
By 1913, seventy-five percent of all the
8,500 schools in Texas were one teacher
schools. Common school numbers peaked
in both Central Texas communities
and in the state as a whole during the preWorld
War I era. While common schools
were reaching this apex, many educators,
attributing inferior education to them,
were eager to control these burgeoning
community schools. Beginning as early as
1902, a strong but unsuccessful campaign
was waged to consolidate these autonomous
The consolidation of rural schools continued
as a major state-wide goal for half
a century that waned by the 1950s when
most counties had closed the majority of
their rural buildings. The issue of consolidation
lingered in the communities, including
many in the central part of the
state, that had agricultural economies,
strong local identities, and long traditions
of educational remoteness and independence
from the state system. These were
often the very same communities that
were also burdened with poor and insufficient
roads. Consolidation eventually
finalized the Central Texas common
schools. A few scattered examples of
these structures survive as functioning
schools. Today in all of Texas, there are
ten remaining common schools, and two
Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 04, Number 02, Fall 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45442/. Accessed March 8, 2014.