A grand experiment

Since 1970, the residents of Brachman Hall have been remotely located but fiercely loyal to one another and the place they called home.

In 1974, English professor Neil Daniel teaches a course in Brachman Centennial College, which blended residential and academic offerings at TCU. (TCU Yearbook)

A grand experiment

Since 1970, the residents of Brachman Hall have been remotely located but fiercely loyal to one another and the place they called home.

Solomon and Etta P. Brachman Hall was constructed in 1970 as an “experimental” dormitory. It was designed as a modern adaptation of the European tradition of the “residential college,” which emphasized a living and learning community. The building was one of the final pieces to TCU’s new Worth Hills campus, which was purchased in 1961 and developed into the home of the university’s fraternities and sororities.

In addition to having a hall that blended social and academic, the university took a step forward with coed housing. A year after it opened, males occupied the north wing and females the south.

Brachman, home for 160 students, developed an independent, student-run magazine and an organizational structure of committees and councils unlike any other hall on campus. The hall featured a main classroom, a venue for mostly humanities courses, such as literature, composition and history. The university called it Brachman Centennial College before changing the name in 1977 to Brachman Living/Learning Community.

On the ground floor, the building had seminar rooms for tutorials and after-class discussions, plus a few faculty offices. Professors taught classes in the mornings and hung around to advise students or talk about what was happening in the world. A few of them even lived on the ground floor.

While classes moved out in the early 1980s, the dorm continued as a residence hall and developed an unrivaled spirit. Its remoteness necessitated a long hike to the main campus — “the Brach Walk” — that became a badge of fortitude.

In recent years, hall residents printed 0.4 stickers to designate the distance in tenths of mile to the Brown-Lupton University Union and printed up t-shirts with boasts about their superior athleticism. Brachman also awarded the “Sweetest Calves” award to the resident with the best-sculpted legs.

In May, the hall closed its doors to make way for new housing and a Worth Hills parking facility. A reunion in April attracted more than 200 former residents and professors, who took photos, bought commemorative bricks and placed a paint handprint on the wall to say good-bye

Memories of Brachman

“People hang out in the lobby a lot of the time and wear their pjs with no thought of being judged or mocked. That’s the kind of close-knit community we have.”

Kaitlyn Upton
Resident Assistant
Sophomore, chemistry and biology
Corpus Christi, Texas

“It’s sad to see Brachman go. I only lived here one year, but I met all my lifelong friends here. I’ll remember the snow ball fights and playing soccer and football in the street.”

B.J. Warren ’98
Resident, 1994

“The long walks to the main campus really forced us to spend more time together. We made an effort to get to know everyone else because we were a smaller dorm and kind of out here on our own.”

Tyler Roberts ’15
Resident, 2012-13

“Freshmen would come and not be happy to live so far away initially. But by the middle of the semester, they didn’t want to leave.”

Christy Lehew
Hall Director, 2013-15

When Christy Lehew was our hall director, we had family dinners once a month with the entire hall. There were so many late nights of studying in the study lounges where we laughed and joked around instead of working. When we had snow days, I remember everyone playing outside and then coming inside for cider and hot chocolate.”

Leah Miskin ’11
Resident, 2009-11
Resident Assistant, 2009

“Out of the time I’ve been at TCU so far, Brachman was definitely where I felt most at home.”

McCaryn Bourgeois ’15
Resident Assistant, 2012

“One of the big traditions was to watch sporting events together on the big TV: March Madness, Super Bowl, TCU away games, a random movie, even some reality TV. There was always something going on. We just enjoyed spending time together as a community.”

Katherine Dyer
Freshman, pre-major

“I came to TCU from New Jersey and didn’t know a soul. I flew into DFW with a giant suitcase and got dropped off at the doorstep. The first activity was watching the movie Citizen Kane, and I just fit right in. I never felt like an outsider. I can’t imagine living in any other place.”

James Whitehouse ’78
Resident, 1976-78

I never had a problem with the walk to main campus. It’s like we had our own little world. It was coed. We had a real kitchen. It felt like our own haven.”

Justin Anderson ’09
Resident, 2005-06

“This place had a lot of character and stories. There were some great pranks. Some students filled up a trash bin half full of water and set it up to tip over when the door opened. People would go in and rearrange the furniture in someone’s room. Classic student hijinks.”

Jeff Alexander
Hall Director, 2013-15

My husband and I met in Brachman so it definitely has a special place in our hearts. Brachman was a special place to live because people truly enjoyed being there.”

Gibson Hernandez ’12
Resident, 2008-12
Resident Assistant, 2009-12