Although officially established by the Texas Legislature in 1871, the Agriculture and Mechanical College of Texas actually opened in October 1876 for the study of agriculture, mechanical arts, and the natural sciences.
The campus was 2,416 acres of tangled brush and briar on treeless prairie. The first building of campus, Old Main, was sited at the high point on the prairie. Initially the campus consisted of two structures, Old Main (the Stewards Hall) and the President`s Home (later Gathright Hall) along with five minor structures.
In the first thirty years, more than ten significant buildings were constructed, most of them designed by Larmour or Eugene T. Heiner of Houston. The structures of this period are characterized by picturesque massing, either Victorian or Second Empire in style. The siting of these 10 significant buildings, however rough at the time, began the development of the campus civic structure. The campus civic structure is the primary sequence of public spaces and buildings that form the spin and center of the campus. Today, this is known as the Simpson Drill Field, Old Main Drive and the Academic Quad.
Listed below are some of the most notable buildings constructed during this period.
- Gathright Hall – 1876
- Five Professor Residences – 1876
- Pfeuffer Hall – 1887
- Assembly Hall - 1889
- President Hall – 1891
- Ross Hall – 1891
- First Power Plant – 1893
- Infirmary – 1895
- Mess Hall– 1897
- Chemistry and Veterinary Building – 1902
- Textile Engineering Building – 1904
- Goodwill Hall – 1908