Cullen building, family celebrated at dedication

Made of Texas cream limestone and built in a modern deco design, Baylor’s Roy and Lillie Cullen Building has stood at the heart of the medical center since it opened in 1947. Now, in recognition of its significance locally and beyond, the building has been dedicated as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.

The official dedication took place under the building’s portico on Friday, May 1, a celebration not just of the building and the family that supported its construction but of the people who have occupied its classrooms, offices and labs.

Baylor President, CEO and Executive Dean Dr. Paul Klotman opened the ceremonies with special guests former Texas Gov. Mark White, former Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Corbin J. Robertson Jr., board member and grandson of Roy Cullen, for whom the building is named. Other members of the Cullen family also were in attendance as well as representatives from the Harris County Historical Commission.

“Baylor has played an important role in the history of this city and state, and we are very proud of that,” said Klotman. “It was made possible through the incredible generosity of the Cullen family, and we are grateful for their support.”

The Cullen family, The Cullen Foundation and The Cullen Trusts for Health Care and Higher Education have been deeply involved in the support and growth of Baylor for 71 years. In 1947, Roy and Lillie Cullen’s gift of $800,000 helped complete construction of the building, which had been delayed due to the war and escalating building costs. Since then, their commitment has continued with the establishment of the $160 million Cullen Foundation to provide continual aid to education and medicine.

Dr. Edward C. “Ed” Ming Chen, representative of the Harris County Historical Commission, talked about the importance of Baylor to the community as well as the significance of the Cullen family, not just on Baylor but other institutions as well.

White also spoke about the important contributions of the Houston family. “The Cullen family has made an unparalleled investment in the future of our state and world. They truly have made a difference in the lives of all of us,” he said.

“We have a lot to be proud of in the state of Texas, especially our history. Part of that history is this building,” said Dewhurst. “The Cullen family’s love of Houston and the Texas Medical Center has impacted us all.”

Dr. William Butler, chancellor emeritus at Baylor, who was instrumental in acquiring the designation, spoke on the history of the Cullen building, which was the first building to open in the Texas Medical Center. The building’s notable elements include intricate aluminum relief panels and carved limestone panels with detailed Greek and Roman mythological creatures. But more than just its architectural features, the building provided modern space for Baylor to attract renowned faculty. Learn more about the building and its history on the Baylor blog.

Robertson, who unveiled the marker, emphasized that it’s not just the building that is important, but the work that goes on inside of it.

“Today is about the people that those buildings attract, including doctors, trainees and researchers,” he said. “Their shared knowledge will continue to be beneficial to us all. The quality of life we all enjoy is because of the work of the people at Baylor and others. As the Cullen family, we are happy to be a part of this.”