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Friday , February 22 2019
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Home | Tag Archives: Texas Western College

Tag Archives: Texas Western College

Living in the Bronze Age: Scenic Drive’s Murchison Park Plaques

Murchison Park is one of the go-to places that El Pasoans take out-of-town visitors for a great view of the city both day and night.

Located at the top of Scenic Drive, the tiny park gives visitors a grand vista of downtown El Paso, Juarez, the Chamizal Memorial, the Plaza de la Mexicanidad (home of the big red X), UTEP, the Hueco Mountains to the east and the lower valley as far as the eye can see.

If one gets out of their car, a small walking path allows park you to get out and stretch your legs.

At the entrance to the walking path are series of plaques, or “Descriptive Markers” that most visitors probably do not take the time to read.

If they did, they probably would wonder what decade El Paso is stuck in, for the seven or so plaques that describe our great city to visitors from near and wide were placed there in the early to mid 1960’s and have never been updated.

The plaques constitute a weird trip down memory lane and a convoluted mix of history and geology.

The plaques, made of bronze and donated to the city by the State National Bank of El Paso were designed to give visitors an explanation of what they were looking at as well as a little history of the area. Look this way and see the Rio Grande.

Look over here and see Juarez. It was a great idea, especially for tourists who probably could not tell, looking outwards, where El Paso ends and Juarez begins. A great idea of 1960’s El Paso.

However, imagine yourself a visitor to El Paso today. You have no idea of the city boundaries, the history, or the culture of our great town. You could, if you read the plaques, learn all about “Peace Grove,” “Cordova Island,” Texas Western College, and the El Paso Smelting Works.

Here are some of the plaques and what you can learn if you read them closely:

Historical markers certainly have their place, but in order to be useful, they need to have accurate information, something these bronze markers are sorely lacking.

With their outdated mixture of history, geography, and economics lessons, these city owned and maintained exhibits are ripe for updating. Their English-only presentation is certainly not conducive in our multicultural community and their dated information makes a mockery of a city that wants to be considered “modern and up-to-date.”

Perhaps an innovative school could adopt these as a project, update the information, add some cool QR Codes that readers can scan that will take them to updated websites with up-to-date useful information that moves us out of the 1960’s bronze plaque age.


Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback. Feel free to leave a comment.  Read his previous columns here.

Gallery+Story: Public Invited to Tour UTEP’s Historic ‘Hoover House’

Members of the public are invited to visit the official residence of The University of Texas at El Paso’s President, the Hoover House, during an open house June 3 and 4 to celebrate the home’s centennial.

“The Hoover House is not only a historic property but a place where University history is made,” President Natalicio said. “Each year, we welcome UTEP students, alumni, faculty, staff, friends and supporters to a variety of University events held in this beautiful residence. For me, it is an honor and privilege to live in UTEP’s official home, and a great pleasure to open its doors to share so many of the University’s happiest occasions with our UTEP family and friends, community members and visitors from across the world.”

UTEP President Diana Natalicio will officially open the house and give remarks at 9 a.m. Saturday and again at noon Sunday. She will be joined by Paydirt Pete and the UTEP cheerleaders. Birthday cake will be served.

The mansion, located in Kern Place, was one of the first homes built in the area in 1917. It is named for the family that donated it to the University and has been home to five UTEP presidents, including the current resident, President Natalicio.

Serving a dual role as both a residence and a center of hospitality for UTEP, the Hoover House has hosted dozens of dignitaries, including former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and former First Lady Laura Bush. It also is the setting for many celebratory and ceremonial events.

The last time the home was opened to the general public was in 2014, when community groups were invited to use the home for special events during UTEP’s Centennial celebration.

The Hoover House was built by Richard M. Dudley, a banker who became a Texas legislator and El Paso mayor, and his wife, Frances. Dudley, a member of the Texas House of Representatives, co-authored the bill funding the construction of the new State School of Mines and Metallurgy (now UTEP) after the original campus was destroyed by fire in 1916.

In 1930, five years after Dudley’s death, Mrs. Frances Dudley sold the home to Rosario Campo de Fernandez Blanco and her husband Tomas F. Blanco, a wealthy brewer from Mexico.

Nine years later, the Internal Revenue Service took possession of the home for nonpayment of taxes. Robert Thompson Hoover, a prominent local cotton merchant, purchased the home in 1944 for $14,000. His widow, Mrs. Louisiana Hoover, donated the house to the University in 1965.

At their meeting on July 17, 1965, the Board of Regents, on the recommendation of Texas Western College President Joseph Ray, designated the home “Hoover House” in honor of the Hoover family. Ray was the first University president to live in the home, residing there with his wife, Jettie H. Ray, from 1965-68.

Other residents included President Joseph R. Smiley and Mary E. Smiley (1969-72), President Arleigh B. Templeton and Maxie Templeton (1972-80) and President Haskell Monroe and Margaret Joann “Jo” Monroe (1980-87).

President Natalicio moved into the Hoover House in 1988.

What: Public open house to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Hoover House, the official residence of the President of The University of Texas at El Paso

When: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, June 3 and noon5 p.m. Sunday, June 4

Where: The Hoover House, 711 Cincinnati Ave.

RHINOS 2018-2019 728
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