Given the prominence of Trinity’s architectural history, it may come as a surprise that an unadorned (no red brick) and isolated concrete slab was once the University’s center of campus social activities. Constructed on lower campus in 1952 and measuring 118 feet by 142 feet, The Slab initially functioned as a temporary outdoor gymnasium for tennis, badminton, and dance classes until funds became available for permanent facilities. Its use was later expanded to include intramural and intercollegiate athletic contests such as tennis, basketball, and volleyball.
Due to the slow pace of Trinity’s early building program, however, The Slab quickly outgrew its limited athletic use. Enhanced by the construction of an adjacent covered barbeque pit, between 1952 and 1977 The Slab served as a multi-purpose venue for a kaleidoscope of campus events. It hosted dances featuring live music, speech and drama performances, group parties and dinners, student officer elections rallies, and annual Homecoming and Founder’s Day celebrations. Other uses included roller skating, car washes, drill team exercises, summer productions by the Trinity Players, and space to build floats for Fiesta parades.
Visiting dignitaries were sometimes invited to specially prepared dinners on The Slab. On one occasion, members of Trinity’s International Relations Club hosted a roasted elk dinner for an Israeli ambassador and special guests from the Lackland AFB Language School.
By the early 1970s, however, most social events were being held in various new campus buildings. In 1977, The Slab was reconfigured to accommodate the Pittman Tennis Courts for use by the women’s tennis team. In this capacity, The Slab continues to serve a useful function as a University structure, even though it has become an unknown entity to most current members of the Trinity community. The Slab may never receive an architectural award, merit a historical marker, or appear on a Trinity logo, but for a quarter of a century it was the highly visible social center of the young campus. Quite an accomplishment for a humble chunk of concrete!