As an undergraduate at Texas A&M, Matthew Bizzell volunteered to participate in a project of the university’s Cushing Memorial Library. That endeavor was called “Mapping Historic Aggieland.” A part of Matthew’s effort was to chronicle the history of the school’s Riverside Campus, located on the site of the old Bryan Army Air Field and today called the RELLIS Campus.
The opportunity excited Matthew, who carries a bit of a historical Aggieland legacy himself. He is the great, great grandnephew of former A&M President William Bennett Bizzell.
Majoring in both English and Philosophy at A&M, Matthew threw himself into his historical research labors, pouring through the Cushing archives and spending countless hours in the library’s historic reading room.
Like most locals, Matthew, as an A&M undergrad, had never been on the Riverside Campus site.
Before RELLIS, when you asked people about the collection of horizon-hugging buildings located off State Highway 21 west of Bryan, you were more likely to get an unknowing shrug of the shoulders than a correct answer pertaining to the site's legacy. One otherwise well-informed local media professional recently wondered if the site hadn't been a "bomb shelter" at some point.
The answer to that would be, "no."
In his work on "Mapping Historic Aggieland," Matthew Bizzell learned much about the Riverside Campus. But it wasn't until he completed his project that he came to the realization that he had failed to gain a real understanding of the place.
Matthew Bizzell is an instructor at San Jacinto Community College in Houston. He is in pursuit of his PhD in Literature and History from the University of Houston. While obtaining his dual Bachelor of Arts degree in English-Creative Writing and Philosophy at Texas A&M, he enlisted to participate in the Cushing Memorial Library’s “Mapping Historic Aggieland” project. In that role, he did extensive historical work on what was known at the time as the Riverside Campus. He went on to earn his Masters degree from A&M in American Literature. Matt is married and originally from San Antonio.