All about Allbritton: the presidential crèche

The President of Baylor and his family reside in the Allbritton House, located in the center of the campus. Olivia Martin | Photo editor

By Ava Dunwoody | Editor-in-Chief

What has five rooms, a giant teddy bear and is it nearly impossible to have pizza delivered? The Allbritton House – the home of Baylor presidents and early families since 1974.

Located in the middle of campus, the Allbritton House was built after well-known donors Joe and Barbara Allbritton refused to give college another dime until his funds were used to build a permanent family residence for President Baylor. Justice Abner McCall and his wife Mary were the original residents of the Allbritton House.

“Baylor University is deeply grateful to Joe and Barbara Allbritton for their generosity which is evident throughout the university, including Allbritton House, the home of Baylor Presidents and their families for nearly 50 years,” said Lori Fogleman, Baylor spokesperson.

In 2017, current president Linda Livingstone and first mister Brad Livingstone moved into an empty house, left vacant for a year after former president Ken Starr was fired.

“As far as the actual physical location goes, I would say when we first got here it was just weird, especially with all the dead cockroaches and stuff like that,” Livingstone said. “But being able to turn this house into our home, we always realize it’s Baylor’s… it’s the college house, but we can make it our home.”

With the first BU puppy at his feet and the HTeaO coconut in his Baylor mug, Brad Livingstone met The Baylor Lariat inside the Allbritton House for an official visit.

Livingstone said when they moved in they replaced most of the furniture with their own and added personal decor to brighten up the rooms. Above the fireplace is a family photo of the Livingstones with their daughter Shelby, now 25, as well as a stone nameplate with the last name engraved on it.

Around the house are scattered memorabilia from Baylor, family photos, some of Shelby’s beloved stuffed animals, and a cabinet with over 100 coffee mugs collected by the first man from various locations.

They were not required to keep the previous furniture, but the family decided to keep a grand piano, an antique grandfather clock with the seal of the university, and a wooden cradle that Brad Livingstone said could have belong to the family of Judge Baylor.

The Livingstones also made a few foundation updates, including raising the main floor door frames to 7 feet to accommodate both the President, who is 6 feet, and the First Man, who is 6 feet. 10 inch. They also wanted a wheelchair accessible bathroom for the guests, which led them to discover a well-kept secret during the renovation.

“This is where it gets pretty cool” said Livingstone. “They started ripping Sheetrock all over the place, and that’s when Linda and I realized number 1, this house was built in 1974 and number 2, the NoZe Brotherhood had sneaked in. here during construction. “

The NoZe Brotherhood is a Baylor secret society founded in 1918, known for its satirical journal, The Rope, and notorious pranks.

“In all the studs of the Sheetrock covered walls, the NoZe Brotherhood snuck in here and stenciled ‘NoZe Brotherhood Construction Company 1974’ on each,” Livingstone said.

But the history of the house is marked by more than just the loving joke of a group of students, said Livingstone. Allbritton House represents the Baylor President’s desire to be involved on campus and visible to students.

“As you walk out that door, you are, and there are thousands of students walking around,” Livingstone said. “When we first arrived here, we made a conscious effort to come out among the students and be visible. And when you’re 6 feet 10 inches tall, it’s really easy to be seen. You are not hiding anywhere.

Mansfield junior Adam Hunt said he appreciates the visibility of the First Family.

“I think seeing them all the time on campus and at other events just shows others that they are determined to make us feel at home and special,” Hunt said. “It’s nice to be on a campus where the president and her family are so involved.”

Baylor spokesperson Fogleman said: “Living on the Allbritton campus has connected [the First Family] to Baylor students in many meaningful ways, from special events on their lawns to the time they spend meeting students as they walk around our beautiful campus.

It’s not uncommon for the first family to be stopped on a walk for a selfie with the students, or for the students to take pictures of themselves around Waco, paparazzi-style. Livingstone said once he was in Chick-fil-A’s queue with his daughter and BU, and before they even got their food, they saw pictures of themselves appearing on the networks. social with the caption: “First BU puppy is at Chick-Fil-A!

Livingstone said he loved seeing photos like this and found them hilarious. BU even has its own Instagram, run by Shelby Livingstone, with over 3,000 followers: @firstpup_bu. But for Livingstone, being in the public eye is more than just funny photos – it’s an opportunity for ministry.

“I’ll put [BU] on a leash and I’ll come out and just say, “Okay, my God, let’s meet at least one person who needs a word of encouragement,” and he’ll honor that prayer fifty times every time we go on a walk, ”Livingstone said.

Another way for Livingstone to use the Allbritton house for ministry is to play music on the backyard speakers. He said the idea came to him a week ago when he felt the anxiety of the test week among the students he spoke to, so he wanted to play some music to brighten up their day. Livingstone said he was asking God from his prayer chair in the house if this day would be a good day for playing music for passers-by to hear.

“There is something about music that makes you feel good or reminds you of things,” Livingstone said. “And so I put together a playlist, just a playlist of funny songs, and most of them are just contemporary songs. But I’m going to throw up a song that’s spiritual, it’s a Christian song, and it is very powerful.

Hunt said he appreciates the effort Livingstone makes with the music.

“It’s nice to walk past on your way to another course and hear a random song that you like,” Hunt said. “Something as small as that can make me smile.” “

In the evenings, the Livingstones attend a variety of banquets, dinners, ceremonies and more on campus.

“Usually there are one or two Baylor events that will take place [each night], but we love it, ”said Brad Livingstone. “If we lived off campus it would be a lot more inconvenient for us to attend all of these events, but living on campus we can walk to almost any event. “

Livingstone said that a unique aspect of their lifestyle is that they don’t have a lot of time for regular housework. Since the first family is to live in the Allbritton house, they do not have to pay the house bills and a cleaning lady comes three times a week. For food, they often eat out at events or pay for a meal delivery service. If they cook, however, they have a few favorites.

“Linda is, among other things, an amazing cook,” said Livingstone. “She makes the best fried okra you’ll ever try. I make the ribs or whatever is cooked on the grill. That’s what I do. It’s my domain.

When it’s time to relax, the couple enjoy biking or watching “Ted Lasso”. The Livingstones said they also try to escape from time to time to a house on the Brazos River, which they bought just before the pandemic.

“As soon as I get to the house by the river, it’s like my whole body is saying, ‘We’re done. We’re just going to chill out for the rest of the day and get out on the boat, jet ski, or pool and just relax, ”Livingstone said. “So it’s a place that we can really decompress. But since school started, we don’t have the opportunity to go very often.

When not using the river house, they open it up to groups like Baptist Student Missions to use for student retreats.

“When I’m at the river, it’s like I don’t want to leave it; it’s so peaceful and so lovely, ”said Livingstone. “But when I get in my car and walk up to campus, it’s just that great feeling, and you see students and you just realize, ‘OK, that’s why we’re here.'”

According to Livingstone, being on the Allbritton House campus has made the president’s work so meaningful. With the marks of history left inside the house over the years, Livingstone said he’s not sure what they plan to leave after they leave.

“I’ll be more than happy to lend Baylor one of my coffee mugs,” Livingstone said. “But we didn’t even think about it because we don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. … We haven’t finished here.

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