University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas

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The University of St. Thomas, named after St. Thomas Aquinas, opened its first classes on September 22, 1947 with 57 freshmen and 8 faculty members. I was fortunate to have gradutated from UST and remember my time here and in the city of Houston fondly.

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Originally consisting solely of the Link–Lee House on the corner of Montrose and West Alabama, the University has expanded over the last 70 years, establishing itself as a  landmark in Houston. The school is near downtown Houston in the heart of the Montrose district near Houston’s art and medical districts. Many of the University’s offices are in houses built in the 1930s that are scattered throughout campus. Several buildings are historic including the Link–Lee House (above) which contains the University’s executive offices. Interestingly, the Theology department is located in the childhood home of Howard Hughes, the great inventor and entrepreneur.

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The campus is located in the middle of one of the country’s largest cities with the main focus of buildings known as the Academic Mall. Composed of rectangular buildings, the Academic Mall was designed by Philip Johnson who is best known for his works of postmodern architecture. Johnson has been awarded an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal and in 1979 the first Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The Chapel of St. Basil is located on the north end of the Academic Mall on the opposite end from the Doherty Library. . Four structures flank these two buildings on each side in a rectangular formation surrounding a courtyard. The setup is designed to display the methods of human knowledge; faith, represented by the Chapel, and reason, represented by the library. The Chapel of St. Basil is a unique work of art that has won many awards for its architecture and has become a landmark for this area of Houston.

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During the 2005-2006 school year, the Gueymard Meditation Garden was built on the west side of the Chapel. The garden features three fountains, representing the persons of the Trinity, and benches for reflection. It also includes a replica of the labyrinth in the Cathedral of Chartres in France. Seen from above, the four arms of the pattern stand out as a clear image of the cross of Jesus Christ.

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