Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Roy and Lillie Cullen Building

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Institution Name: Southwestern University
Original/Historic Place Name: The Main Building; The University Building
Location on Campus: 1001 E. University
Date(s) of Construction:
1898-1900original construction Layton & Raymond
Designer: Layton & Raymond
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Romanesque revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stone piers, wood beams, wood flooring
Walls: stone, plaster, wood, stone veneer
Roof: wood, slate, composition
ca. 1900theater
ca. 1900other (physics laboratory)
ca. 1900other (debate hall)
ca. 1900gymnasium
ca. 1900chapel
ca. 1900-present (2006)classrooms
ca. 1900-present (2006)administration

The cornerstone of the Cullen Building was set Sept 8, 1898 and the building completed April 23, 1900. Designed by architects Layton & Raymond of Oklahoma, the building façade was constructed of ornately detailed limestone, locally quarried and hauled by horse and wagon. The mason that did the work on this building also did the stonework for the Texas Capital building in Austin. Hand tools used in the construction of the building are located in Special Collections. At the turn of the century the building was hailed as one of the finest collegiate buildings west of the Mississippi. The administrative building set the design standards for all permanent future buildings. A few buildings deviated from the core design but have since been demolished and replaced with architecture more complimentary to the design of this building.

Robert Stewart Hyer, a well known scientist, had his office in this building and conducted early experiments in wireless telegraphy and x-ray machines in the Physics Lab on the first floor. Hyer supervised the construction of the building. Hyer served as President of Southwestern University and later became President of SMU. Writer J. Frank Dobie often visited the Administrative Building and on one occasion participated in a tree planting ceremony. The live oak he planted is just south of the building.

Since the time of its construction, the Roy and Lillie Building has been carefully preserved. The windows, walls, trim, stairs and wainscot are original. A 1977 renovation focused on HVAC and life safety issues. A recent (2002) renovation salvaged the original long leaf pine wood flooring from the auditorium, some of which was used in the project as flooring and the remainder was stored for future renovations. The present Facilities Master Plan includes a project for complete renovation of the building. The proposed renovation continues the history of preservation and proposes to showcase the building as one of Texas's best collegiate examples of Romanesque revival architecture.


Jones, Ralph Wood. Southwestern University 1840 - 1961. Austin, TX: Jenkins Publishing Co., 1973.

Myrick-Newman-Dahlberg and Partners. Campus Planning: Redesign, Redevelopment, Rethinking: Proceedings of a Professional Development Symposium. [Dallas, TX: Myrick-Newman-Dahlberg & Partners], 1983.

"Urban Design and Planning Citation: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Houston." Progressive Architecture 64 (January 1983): 126-28.

Williams, Joe, and Michael C. Riddle. Southwestern University Administration Building and Mood Hall. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1975.


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Last update: November 2006