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 Phillip Rollfing  

Ernest Langford

Langford influenced generations of men, lead development of College Station



When former students recall their years in the architecture program at Texas A&M University, two names are prominently mentioned time and again — Ernest Langford, a former A&M student who served as department head from 1929 to 1956, and Edward Romieniec, who taught architecture from 1956 until 1960, returned in 1963 as chairman of the architecture division, served as the College of Architecture’s first dean 1969 - 73, and retired from the college faculty in 1988.

Texas A&M boasts countless other outstanding architecture educators, but few who have left such an indelible legacy on architectural education in Texas as Langford and Romieniec.

Ernest Langford, known as a gentleman, scholar, teacher and community leader, is also revered as one of the founding fathers of College Station. He was instrumental in the city’s founding, served on the city council for two years, and was mayor until retiring in 1965. Though his civic duties have earn him the title, “father of College Station,” his role for 27 years, as steward of the architectural education program at Texas A&M is what we remember tonight, at the 100th anniversary of the program he so ably guided.

Few individuals have been as closely tied to Texas A&M as it grew and developed in the second half of the 20th Century, from the day he entered Texas A&M as a freshman in 1909, until the day he retired as Professor Emeritus.

Langford earned a bachelors of science degree in architectural engineering in 1913, practiced as a draftsman in Austin for two years, then returned to A&M and taught mechanical drawing. He left again in 1919 and for the next six years he taught and earned a master’s degree at the University of Illinois. He returned to A&M as an architecture instructor in 1925 and was named department head in 1929.

“The department was a struggling infant in the early days,” Langford once recalled. “We graduated only three or four men a year. At the time of my retirement we had more than 300 architecture majors and graduated about 50 a year.”

Under Langford’s direction, the Texas A&M Architecture program became known as one of the best in the country.

A member of the American Institute of Architect’s College of Fellows, Langford became widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading architectural educators. But the honor he cherished most was the high esteem in which he was held by students, friends, neighbors and colleagues — a position exemplified by words spoken at his retirement from public service: “He has worked untiringly for the things he thought were best for our city and school. He has presided with dignity, patience and courage.”

Professor Langford dedicated himself to inspiring others to their highest achievements. There is hardly a student that studied under him whose name he could not recall. His interest in his students, his understanding of their needs, and his sharing of their aspirations is best demonstrated by the successes those students enjoyed.

An editorial appearing in the Bryan-College Station Eagle after Langford’s death in Sept. 14, 1981 read: “Few men who measure their accomplishments against their dreams as life nears its end can be truly satisfied with the final tally. Count Ernest Langford as worthy of that privilege.”

“During his lifetime,” the editorial concluded, “Langford not only watched as his dream became reality, he worked to insure its success. He brought a dedication and a zeal to every task he undertook, and the entire community benefited from it. He was, in a very real sense, the builder of a community and a positive influence on generations of men. That is a legacy worthy of both respect and imitation.”


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Ernest Langford

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