The landscape of Sam Houston State University’s campus is brimming with landmarks of historical importance to Texas, Huntsville and the university itself. From Austin Hall, which housed the first law school in Texas, to the campus’ newest building, the Student Health and Counseling Center, SHSU’s physical features add to the academic environment more than 19,000 students call home.
One such landmark is celebrating its tenth anniversary of dedication at SHSU. The Presidents Tree, located in the Alumni Garden near the Lowman Student Center and the Dan Rather Communications building, is a southern magnolia tree that is more than 100 years old.
SHSU President H.C. Pritchett moved the State Residence from its original location to the Wilson lot, located at the current site of the LSC.
The State Residence was under renovation for then-university President Harry F. Estill in summer 1911. During construction, the home was destroyed in a fire that spread to the nearby Mitchell Boarding House.
The Presidents Tree was planted in 1912 following the construction of a new state residence that the Estill family would occupy. Presidents Charles N. Shaver and President Harmon Lowman would occupy the residence after the Estill family, with the Lowman family being the last to live in the home.
After the house was vacated in 1964, it housed economics classes for six years until it was torn down and removed from campus. However, the Presidents Tree has remained in its spot ever since and serves as a reminder to current students, faculty and staff of the history and legacy of the university.
The SHSU Alumni Association dedicated the tree Oct. 16, 2004, with today being the tenth anniversary of the tree’s dedication to the university.