Lovett Hall or Administration Building, Rice Institute, Houston, Texas
Houston has in Rice Institute one of the largest privately endowed colleges in the country. The original endowment of nine million dollars by the late Wm. Marsh Rice, has grown to 14,500.000.
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Long a big name in America's colleges, Rice is one of Houston's landmarks. Thousands of young men and women are graduated annually from its schools. In athletics and scholastics its ranking is generally among the top educational institutions. Rice Institute is another reason why Houston is "America's fastest growing metropolitan city."
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The history of Rice University began with the untimely demise of Massachusetts businessman William Marsh Rice. Rice made his fortune in real estate, railroad development, and cotton trading in the state of Texas. In 1891, Rice decided to charter a free-tuition educational institute in Houston, bearing his name, to be created upon his death, earmarking most of his estate towards funding the project. On the morning of September 23, 1900, Rice was found dead by his valet, and presumed to have died in his sleep. Shortly thereafter, a suspiciously large check made out to Rice's New York City lawyer, signed by the late Rice, was noticed by a bank teller due to a misspelling in the recipient's name. The lawyer, Albert T. Patrick, then announced that Rice had changed his will to leave the bulk of his fortune to Patrick, rather than to the creation of Rice's educational institute. A subsequent investigation led by the District Attorney of New York resulted in the arrests of Patrick and of Rice's butler and valet Charles F. Jones, who had been persuaded to administer chloroform to Rice while he slept. Rice's friend and personal lawyer in Houston, James A. Baker, Sr., aided in the discovery of what turned out to be a fake will with a forged signature. It took nearly ten years for Jones and Patrick to be found guilty of conspiring to steal Rice's fortune. Patrick was convicted of murder in 1901. Baker helped Rice's estate direct the fortune, worth $4.6 million in 1904 ($111 million today), towards the founding of what was to be called the Rice Institute.