Greenhill to Say Farewell to the Agnich Science Building

The Fred and Ruth Agnich Science Hall, which opened for classes during the spring of 1964, served three generations of Greenhill students. This summer, the building will be razed to make way for a new STEM and innovation center which will enable Greenhill to continue offering leading-edge programming in science, math, engineering, and technology. As stewards of our beautiful campus and its renowned architecture, we did not take lightly the decision to take down the building. We worked closely with architects to consider creative options for retaining some portion of the structure, but in the end, the requirements of a world class STEM and innovation center did not allow us any other recourse. We invite you to reflect on the important role this venerable building has played in our history and imagine what lies ahead as we dream of the future.
The Agnich Science Building has served as one of the cornerstones of the Greenhill campus, as it was the first brick-and-mortar "permanent" building constructed in 1964. Despite being recently renovated to include seven chemistry and biology labs, student study rooms, conference rooms, and offices and a lounge area for Greenhill faculty, the Agnich Science Building has maintained the same charm as when it was first constructed over 50 years ago.
Famed-architect O'Neil Ford brought the vision to life for founder Bernard Fulton. His style revolved around the use of native materials, sensitivity to the surrounding landscape, attention to timelessness, and creative approaches to a limited budget. Ford, who had peacocks on the grounds of his own home in San Antonio, quickly became enchanted with the young school, with Fulton’s dreams for its future, and with his client’s open style. “I was sitting there talking with Ford one day,” narrated Fulton, “and a kid slipped into my office, got a piece of candy from my desk, and slipped back out, not saying a word. Ford looked at him and looked at me and said, ‘I want my son in this school. I like this business of open doors.’” And so it was that Ford was sold on the challenge of forging the school’s future in bricks and mortar.
Fulton had decided that the science program should receive more emphasis, and bolstered by Board leaders whose lives were spent in the sciences, he set about to raise the program to new heights. He hired William Garrison of the National Science Foundation to evaluate and implement a new curriculum. When Garrison reported to Fulton and the Board that the department’s science equipment was sorely lacking, Fred Agnich, the recently elected Board chair, agreed to procure the needed materials and equipment. The Board also agreed that the first permanent building would be a science laboratory building. After a fire destroyed the main school building in April 1963, the school was at a crossroads. Agnich threw down the gauntlet for the trustees: "When lightning hit the school, the next morning I said to myself, 'Thank God! Do we want to put up permanent buildings or do we want to quit?'" The Board responded to his challenge, and ten weeks later, the school broke ground on its first brick building. The Board dedicated the structure to the heroism of its Chair, who happened to be an early scientist at Texas Instruments. When the building was constructed, a large live oak tree was helicoptered into the central courtyard (which has since been enclosed for classroom space).
Sunday, May 16, 1965, proved to be a landmark day for the school. The dedication of the Fred & Ruth Agnich Science Hall - which included a large storage area underground that could double as a fall-out shelter if necessary - and the Jerome & Pauline Crossman Hall meant that for the first time in the school’s history, brick and mortar roots assured the school’s solidity and stature.

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