15 Baylor & Waco landmarks that are gone, but not forgotten
Whether it’s been five years or 50 years since you last visited the Baylor campus, chances are good there’s something new that you’ve haven’t seen before. Something new almost always means something else is gone — but gone doesn’t mean forgotten.
Below are 15 landmarks that were once an important part of the Baylor experience, but for one reason or another are no longer with us. How many of these spots did you frequent as a student?
* Baylor Drug — In December 1980, Baylor Drug closed its doors as the university began construction to change the intersection of 5th Street and Speight Avenue. Originally opened as Barnett’s Pharmacy in 1926, the store was known for embodying the Baylor spirit and tradition, displaying portraits of Homecoming nominees and courts. Students often ran to Baylor Drug to have a study break at the soda fountain. It came down in 1981 to make way for what is today the Bobo Spiritual Life Center.
* The H-E-B on Speight — The beloved former grocery store at Speight Avenue and 11th Street served as the perfect location for students’ late-night snack runs. After 40 years of operation, the store closed in 2015 with the opening of the brand-new H-E-B Plus on Valley Mills; after sitting vacant for a year, the building was torn down in 2016; it has since been replaced by a luxury student housing development.
* Pics & Gifts/Rothers (UBS) Bookstore — From the 1980s to 2000s, a small shopping strip across Dutton Avenue from Martin Hall offered students textbooks (Rothers, later University Bookstore) and sorority and fraternity gifts (Pics & Gifts). Rothers left Waco long ago, but Pics & Gifts still operates across town with an expanded inventory.
* Harts N Crafts/Flash Photography — The storefront on 8th Street that current students know as Heritage Creamery may bring different memories for alumni. The shop was formerly Harts N Crafts, a Baylor graduate-owned craft and gift shop especially popular with Baylor sororities that closed down in 2014. Older alumni might remember the store as Flash Photography, a company started by two Baylor brothers in 1979 that would send student photographers to take and sell photos at nearly every major Baylor event. To this day, Flash Photography (now based in Dallas) operates as the largest commencement photographer in Texas.
* Ivy Square — Originally built in 1974, Ivy Square housed nearly every type of business imaginable over its 36-year existence. Alumni may recall the Ivy Twin movie theater, 7-Eleven, Baskin-Robbins, apartments, clothing stores, a fitness center, hair salon, video rental store, yogurt shop, and several restaurants, including Pho-nk Vietnamese Restaurant, Egg Roll House, and the original location of Bangkok Royal. Removed in 2010 as part of a campus beautification effort, the site has been rumored for a possible new campus visitors center.
* The Alamo — Built in 1916, the building initially served as a cafeteria, but in the 1930s it began the second phase of its career as the “everything annex,” serving as a meeting/overflow location for virtually every department on campus. It, like Baylor Drug, gave way in 1981 for what is today the Bobo Spiritual Life Center.
* The original Vara Martin Daniel Fountain — Informally known as the “Rocket Launcher,” this fountain stood between Carroll Science and the SUB for over 20 years. Safety issues led to its removal in 2003, replaced by a new Vara Martin Daniel Fountain behind Carroll Science a few years later.
* Floyd Casey Stadium — Baylor football called Floyd Casey home for more than 60 years (1950-2013), longer than any other facility, before moving back to campus with the opening of McLane Stadium in 2014. It was torn down in 2016; future plans for the site are still being worked out.
* SUB Barber Shop — After more than 60 years in operation, the barber shop located in the SUB closed its doors in 2011 with the retirement of lifetime friends and barbers Ervin Davis and Norman Gilchrest. Today, that location provides additional space for Baylor Student Activities events.
* The original Brooks Hall — Brooks opened its doors as a dormitory for Baylor student-athletes in the fall of 1921. The building’s unique style eventually caused problems for future residents (and future renovation plans), and it was razed in 2006. In its place, a new Brooks — this time, including both a traditional residence hall and an apartment-style series of flats — opened in 2007, retaining many of the structural features of the original but built for the 21st century.
* Big Daddy’s — Purchased by Joe Blanek in 1993, Big Daddy’s was originally named for the grandfather of the man who built the strip on Bagby Avenue. After 11 years of serving the Baylor community, Big Daddy’s closed in 2004 as Blanek turned his focus to his catering business, which still operates in Waco.
* Collins Dining Hall — After East Village (and the East Village Dining Commons) opened in 2013, Baylor administrators decided that the space occupied by the small dining hall on the first floor of Collins Residence Hall could be better utilized in other ways. Collins Dining Hall closed in 2014, with its famous “Flying Saucer” moving to Memorial’s dining hall; the space in Collins was converted into a student center for studying, gathering and concerts.
* Elite Café — Opened downtown in 1902, the Elite Café expanded in 1941 with a second location on the Waco traffic circle. That location remained a Waco icon long after the first site closed, but growing competition across the city led the Elite to close in the late 1990s, only to reopen under new ownership until it closed again in 2016. A year later, the building gained new life under a new name, as Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Table.
* Leslie’s Chicken Shack — Built in 1934, “The Shack” was a beloved part of Waco for generations. Upon entering, patrons would see an antique wooden telephone and green handwashing sink. Some may recall a Baylor tradition of throwing a dinner roll in hopes of making it over what was called the largest chicken in the world — a 17-foot landmark mounted on a large pole — believing a successful toss would bring good grades. After 60 years of serving fried chicken, Leslie’s closed in 1995.
* Chili’s Too/Starbucks — In 2003, Chili’s Too came to Baylor’s campus in the bottom of the Dutton Parking Facility (known to students as the “Garage Mahal”). The nation’s first Chili’s Too on a college campus, it and the Starbucks next door were popular student spots for convenient dining and coffee. As campus options for food and caffeine expanded, however, Chili’s Too and this Starbucks location closed in 2012 and 2013, respectively, after nearly a decade of operation.
What other spots deserve consideration on this list? Let us know here, and we’ll consider them for future expansion of this walk down memory lane.
Sic ’em, Baylor alumni of all generations!