Building Series: The Cullen Building

By Joana Moreno
Southwestern is an important part of Texas’ history as its oldest university. A key feature of this history is the Cullen Building, which is full of rich tradition for the Southwestern student body. A tradition particular to Cullen is the graduating seniors’ Tower Days, where each senior can sign the walls of the Cullen Tower.

“I think it’s a really cool tradition,” senior Lizette Villarreal said. “It’s nice to know that you get your own little way of leaving a mark on Southwestern.”
Formerly known as the Administration Building, Cullen was designed by architects named Layton and Richmond, who travelled to Texas from Oklahoma for this project. They decided to build Cullen in a Richardsonian Romanesque style. After its construction, it served as a space for the college’s auditorium, gymnasium, chapel and library for decades.

“I never knew the Cullen Building could house so much,” sophomore Brooke Chatterton. “It’s pretty interesting.”
The name was then changed to the Cullen Building after Southwestern received a gift from the Cullen Foundation that was used to renovate the building during the 1970’s. Now, as the building emerges from its recent window replacements, it houses administrative offices, the Business Office and even classrooms.

“It’s quiet again without [the construction]“ said Paula Sutton, Business office employee.

In addition, the Cullen building has had its own television appearance. Several scenes of the television show Friday Night Lights were filmed there in July 2010.

“It’s neat that our school was featured on a show that’s so popular, especially the Cullen Building that has so much meaning to our campus” senior Marianne Lynch said.
Despite its age and the changes it has seen, the Cullen Building maintains its prestige. Soon after its construction, it was referred to as one of the “finest buildings west of the Mississippi” and is now considered one of “Texas’ best collegiate examples of Romanesque revival architecture ” according to The Council of Independent College’s Historic Campus Architecture Project.