"Designs for the Decade" at Wayland didn't quite happen as planned

Dreams and reality very often do not match up. What is envisioned and what eventually becomes are usually a bit - if not completely - different.

Looking through the archives at Wayland Baptist University, the same can be said. Long-term campus plans launched at the end of the 1950s called for a vastly different Wayland than we now know.

Called "Bold Venture: Designs for the Decade," the plan proposed by university officials at that time would add nine new buildings to the campus and renovate the administration building, Gates Hall, and the president's home (now the home of the Office of Alumni Services). The total expansion project would cost $2.9 million, only twice what a small building on campus would now cost to build.

Then-president Dr. A. Hope Owen, who served from 1953-63, felt the expansion project was a necessity to bring Wayland to a new level.

"The 60s will be a decade of decision for Texas Baptist colleges. This is our opportunity to make struggling colleges distinguished educational institutions," Owen wrote in a brochure developed to spotlight the aims of the program. "We believe that the Baptists of West Texas particularly will meet the challenge of this decade by giving new life to this Baptist institution begun by the early pioneers of the High Plains area."

Designed by Robert Rucker, the expansion plans would have stretched Wayland past the 25 acres of land it was currently using and use the remainder of the 80 total acres owned by the university. A proposal went before the Plainview city council in order to obtain approval to close off Smythe and Utica Streets between 6th and 8th Streets to allow for the addition of buildings to create an "academic quadrangle."

Plans called for the construction of a home life building near the campus' center, a science building, an auditorium with fine arts and music wings, a student center and an addition to Slaughter Memorial Center, the university's dining hall at the time. Three new dormitories on the campus were also proposed, adding to the already present McDonald Hall, Fleming and Mays Halls and Owen Hall. A chapel adjacent to Flores Bible Building, which was being completed, was also planned.

Interestingly, Matador Hall - the university's first official building that included office space, classrooms and dormitories until Gates Hall was completed in 1911 - was not included on the future-planning documents. It was torn down in 1999 due to safety concerns after being unused for decades. Nunn Business Building, which at the time served as the campus gymnasium, was not on the architectural plan either. It was not torn down, however, but renovated to house the university's business administration program.

The "Designs for the Decade" brochure featured a color depiction of the campus "in 1970 as we envision it." But the reality was slightly different. Though Dr. Owen would retire in 1963 before the decade-long expansion project was completed, several projects had already gotten underway before he left Wayland. The home life building - which now serves as a base for the Mabee Learning Resources Center - was completed in 1962, fulfilling one of the goals of the campus plan. Dr. Roy McClung, who had served on the Board of Trustees that approved the expansion plan, took over the presidency in 1963 and oversaw completion of several more of those goals.

Atwood Hall, the first half of Caprock Complex men's dormitory, was constructed in 1967. Harral Auditorium followed in 1968, with the music wing opened later in 1973 and the art wing much later in 1980. Moody Science Building was completed in 1970, rounding out the decade once thought to feature nine new buildings. J.V. Hilliard Field - affectionately known as the Wayland Bowl - was built in 1965, though it was not included on the architectural renderings.

More of the proposed new buildings came in the 1970s under McClung, including Hutcherson Physical Education Center in 1971, Brown Chapel in 1979, Marshall Hall in 1980. Construction on the McClung University Center, which would eventually replace Slaughter Hall, began as the decade ended.

Those early planners never did see another men's dorm built, though a women's dorm was added in 2001. And contrary to the early proposals, future buildings did not bear the funky 1960s architectural design as envisioned.

Today's Wayland campus also features the David and Myrt Wilder Baseball Field, the Wheeler and Wood buildings housing maintenance and property departments and the Lifelong Learning Center on the western edge of the WBU property. Several landscaping and renovation projects over the years have changed the look of the Wayland campus significantly as well.