This blog was authored by Henry Mayo, a surveyor and long-time resident of the Bryan-College Station area. As a surveyor and historian, Henry retrieves information from local, state and national resources to assemble a series of history-themed messages for email subscribers. To subscribe to Henry’s series, click here.
Cornerstone for Sbisa Hall installed with Masonic ceremony on May 26, 1913
Although clearly dated 1912, according to page 23 of the Centennial History of Brazos Union Lodge No. 129 A.F. & A.M. (1854-1954), the Masons “convened as a Grand Lodge May 26, 1913, for the purpose of laying the cornerstone of the Dining Hall at A & M College.”
The grand, old mess hall burned on Nov. 11, 1911, so A&M planned and built Sbisa Mess Hall, which stands today. Austrian-born Bernhard Sbisa came to A&M from New Orleans in 1879. He served as supervisor of subsistence at A&M for more than 40 years.
The photo above from the Cushing library Flickr site shows Mr. and Mrs. Sbisa in front of the old mess hall not long before it burned.
In the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans, you can still find Café Sbisa, in the same location since 1899. I assume it’s in the the same family. I found the following information on the New Orleans Sbisa family on ancestory.com: “Most of the Sbisa family came from Rovinj/Rovigno on the Istrian Penninsula of what is now Croatia. It was Austrian in 1852. Rovinj is a Venetian town of antiquity and most residents speak an Italian dialect. The name probably comes from an area at the north of the Adriatic, Bisiacaria.”
As a side note, the same page of the Masonic Lodge history mentioned above states that the cornerstone for Harvey Mitchell Hall at A&M was set with ceremony on May 27, 1912, 101 years ago this week. Mitchell Hall was razed in 1972, but today its cornerstone is sitting on a pedestal at its former site, along Military Walk next to the Beutel Health Center.
Have a great week,