WACO, TX – At a May 8, 2014 ceremony and reception, Baylor Vice Provost for Research,
Dr. Truell W. Hyde, accepted an award from the Waco Historic Landmark Preservation Commission for safeguarding the historical and architectural legacy of the former General Tire and Rubber plant during planning and construction of the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) discovery park. Officials representing six other historic facilities also were presented awards by Commission chair, Don Davis, and vice chair, Caren Shaffer.
"It is truly an honor for the BRIC to be recognized in this way," Hyde says. "General Tire was one of the primary employers in town for over 40 years. It would have been unthinkable not to do what we could to sustain this part of Waco's rich heritage."
From its startup in 1944 at the height of World War II until its closure in 1986, Waco's General Tire and Rubber factory provided thousands of highly sought-after jobs for a generation of area workers, as well as vehicle tires crucial to the war effort. The facility was donated to Baylor University in 2009 by local co-owners, H. Bland Cromwell and the Clifton Robinson family.
The Commission gave the award for "Sustained Excellence of an Adaptive Reuse of a Commercial Structure," in recognition of the BRIC's commitment to retaining much of the plant's original construction features, and for sensitivity to the community's continuing high regard for the facility.
In addition to much of the interior structure, the plant's signature water tower and brick chimney were preserved. The BRIC's reception area displays various General Tire mementos, and the lobby sports the tire plant's large "G" logo sign that once graced the building's façade. Large-screen monitors placed about the BRIC run slideshows depicting the factory both during its heyday and before renovations.
Last November, the BRIC hosted a series of "General Tire Friday" open house events, in which hundreds of General Tire faithful and their families were treated to refreshments and a tour of the new facility during which they were encouraged to share memories of their time at the factory. Demand for the tours was so great that additional events were held in December.
Beatriz Wharton, urban planner for the City of Waco and the city's liaison to the Commission says the recognition is well deserved.
"The Waco Historic Landmark Preservation Commission is happy to recognize the BRIC as a historical structure that is not only a magnificent building restoration, but also a representation of economic and technological growth and revitalization for the City of Waco."
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.