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GULF COAST ARCHITECTURE
AE 683 & 684
David P. Rigney
Instructor: Blair Reeves
Spring & Fall 1976
TABLE OF CONTENTS
AE 683 Coastal Texas: Beaumont, Galveston, Houston
Geography of Coastal 1
Introduction to the Architecture of Coastal Texas 3
AE 684 Coastal Texas: Galveston and Houston
Galveston and Houston, Extremes in Development 1-A
Preservation in Houston 4-A
Preservation in Galveston 8-A
Galveston Chronology Continued 11-A
Houston Chronology Continued 14-A
1. Summary Harris County Heritage Society 1974 Annual Luncheon
presentation by James Biddle
2. County Building Decision Slaps Preservationists, Editorial-
Bayou City Banner, March 29, 1974
3. "ATale of Two Buildings" by Mrs. Austin Wilson
4. "Landmarks of Houston's History"
5. Preservation at Sam Houston Park, Houston, Texas
6. "Houston Home and Garden Presents Galveston Island Architecture
7. Come Visit History Galveston Island, Texas
8. Excerpts "1894 Grand Opera House and Hotel Galveston
9. Galveston Historical Foundation Annual Report: June 25, 1973-
March 12, 1975
10. Galveston Historical Foundation Annual Report: March 13, 1975-
March 3, 1976
11. "The Strand Why Save It?"
12. "Commercial Area Revolving Funds" by Peter Brink
13. Texas Preservation Framework
14. Texas Catalog H.A.B.S. pp. 20-29, 94-117, 120-123
Slide List One
Slide List Two
COASTAL TEXAS BEAUMONT, GALVESTON, HOUSTON
ARCHITECTURE AND HISTORY
David P. Rigney
Gulf Coast Architectural History
Instructor: Blair Reeves
Scale 1 s OArnett
20 20 40 60 80 100 DALHART
L.. 0_ | 170 CANADIAN
GLENRIO 14 SHAMROCK O K L A H O M A
Tucumcari AMARILLO 14 1-0 Saye
SI CANYON 16o
l\ Altus Lowton
N E W M E X CO O FARWEL 17b
Clovis 2MULESHOE CHILDRESS Ryon Ardmore
S MULESHO PLAINVIEW 16 VERNN Durnt
12 1 2 PADUCAH 130 _( 0
S3E 16b 12 0 bPARISw o Fulton
Roswell LUBBOCK SEYMOUR WIC TA a
BRONCO- 21 GUTHRIE FALLS 0 SHERAN 5a MAUD TEXARKANA
c 2I O 27 16b 10o It 90 DENTON 70 6a GR NVILLM I
TAHOKA SERMON ?INER L 5b PLE SAINT 2
""y^NpR^^MINERAL b 4a
17C 21c 6b 0 TAMFORD WELLS 19c 19b DALLAS 1 MARSHA L \ r
Los Crces Cord ANSON FT.WORTH b 6b 19a Shreveport
o rlsbad o F GLADEWATER B 6l
LAGUNA Csb SPRING ROS AENE ALVARADO TYLER RTHAGE C
LATUNA-- Carlsbad r lJABILEE L,) 1 Loganspor-
-- c29 16c o COLEM STEPHEN ILLSBORO 2oTENAHA
EL PASO \a BALLINGER c I VILLE S1b RIEL 2 TIMPSON U
10 0 29. a PALES 2
19N r, Be BROWNWOOD 2.,b 2 WACO 6 2
VAN HORN PECOS AN ANGELO BUFFALo LUFKIN
4 12 18d EDEN
24c 18d IOb 20b 65
23d FT. STOCKTON 24 24c 16c 1 ROUND 20 HUNTSVILLE 2 ke
28 SOR 24c JUNCTION JOHNSON ROC 20 ROCKDALE Choales
O4b CIEX X A TTINO UBE i
T X E*TDELRIO SRN ANONIb ROSENB
State Boundary ARED P HRISTI ALVESTON
Tour Routes-Main and Independent I i sr /
SEcoN En d n Tu 25b PORTR
Side Tours-Unnumbered "
70 Section Numbers Main Tours 0
23A Section Numbers-Independent Side St Ec T s
Tour Section End-Principal Cities v
Tour Section End- Sm all Cities PRR
0O Principal Cities "
o Small Cities and Towns
GEOGRAPHY OF COASTAL TEXAS
BEAUMONT, GALVESTON, HOUSTON
Beaumont 940 09'
Galveston 940 48'
Houston 950 22'
Average Annual Rainfall
Average Annual Snowfall less than 1"
Average Minimum Temperature (January) 500-600F.
Average Maximum Temperature (August) 800-900F.
Tornado Frequency 1-2 per year
1. Sedimentary bedrock land formation
2. Coastal Plain
Oil Firing Clay
Natural Gas Sulfur
Tall Prairie Grass Oak
Birds Coastal Texas is on the Mississippi Valley and the Great Plains -
Rocky Mountain bird migration routes. Some of the characteristic birds
are: Gadwall, American Widgeon, Turkey Vulture, Golden Eagle, Hawks,
Sandhill Crane, Avocet, Long-Bill Curlew, Western Kingbird, Say's Phoebe,
Rock Wren, Sage Thrasher, Mountain Bluebird, Western Meadowlark, Baird's
Sparrow, Canada Goose, Mallard, Common Teal, Redheaded Woodpecker and
Mammals Skunk, Raccoon, Shrews, Armadillo, Oppossum, Puma, White-tailed
INTRODUCTION TO THE COASTAL ARCHITECTURE OF TEXAS
BEAUMONT, GALVESTON, HOUSTON
The cities in question Beaumont, Galveston and Houston have no
real architectural history prior to their incorporation as towns and
cities during the 1830's. While each of these cities has its own indivi-
duality in terms of architectural development, each followed the basic
trends of architectural evolution exhibited by Texas as a whole tempered
by their individual coastal locations.
The migration of large numbers of Anglo-Americans into the coastal
areas of Texas during the 1820's and 1830's brought the Greek Revival
style with them. This style tempered by the southern heritage of the
settlers who brought it to coastal Texas was to be the major architectural
style through the Civil War. The associative values underlying the design
concepts of the Greek Revival in conjunction with the Texans' newly
founded Republic probably account for the style's popularity in public
and institutional architecture.
The change in life-style and mobility which took place with the
introduction of the railroads after the Civil War marked the first change
in the architectural trend of Texas' gulf coast. From this time on
Texas' architecture could keep step with that of the Eastern states. The
architectural response was an onslaught of the diverse eclectic manifesta-
tions of the Victorian era, the most exuberant of these being the resi-
dences built with lumber money in Beaumont and with cotton money in
Galveston and Houston. The commercial and public architecture also
responded to the change in stylistic trend, but more importantly to
the availability of new building techniques and materials, especially
cast iron. Of the three cities being considered, Galveston was the
least affected by the coming of the railroads since it had maintained
direct connections with New Orleans, the eastern states and Europe through
water transport from its very beginning.
After the Victorian era Texas' coastal architecture managed to keep
step with current trends in the Eastern United States, from the influence
of Beaux-Arts eclecticism to the modern architecture of today. The coas-
tal location has been a constant factor in the architectural evolution of
Beaumont, Galveston and Houston but sensitivity to the factor seems to
have declined since the days of the Greek Revival. Each of the cities
have varied in their architectural development according to each ones
peculiarities of location and economic development.
Beaumont's late emergence as a lumber center and then as an oil
production center precluded the development of extensive commercial
architecture prior to the 1880's and the coming of the railroads.
Beaumont's lumber industry, the southern heritage of its settlers, and
the lack of a diverse economic base produced an anonymous domestic archi-
tecture based on variations of the indigenous plans and forms developed
during the Colonial Period of the southeastern states. The growth that
followed the Lucas gusher at Spindle Top over ran this early architectural
heritage and has nearly obliterated the turn-of-the-century architecture
that resulted from the wealth that followed the oil strike.
Galveston is peculiar among the states being considered. Raised
buildings were a must in the early history of Galveston due to its sus-
ceptability to storm and flood tide. While parts of Houston and Beaumont
were susceptable to flooding from surrounding rivers and bayous the
conviction of the problem is far more evident in Galveston.
The conservative nature of Galveston's early leaders and their preoc-
cuopation with the status quo is what has set Galveston truly apart from
Beaumont and Houston. While Houston and Beaumont were striving for growth,
Galveston, one of Texas' earliest important cities, resisted growth and
expansion. Because of this resistance to growth Galveston, unlike Houston
and Beaumont, retains its architectural heritage, somewhat dilapidated
though it may be.
Ie I r I ~ I
--. .- '- U.S.Highways
MAGNOA 2 State Highways
PARK Connecting Streets
Pointsof Interest- Number
EBG3. o 0I Points of Interest-Symbol
_x _Marsh Bridges
yfaJ Other Property
4 0 5 2000
C 9 Lufkin C YJ
96 Texarkano C
LONG AVE. 90 N4)
-J S INDUSTRIAL ISLAND
S BROADWAY 5
LIBERTY AVE. Oc a. enB
LAUREL AVE S tourist
F WIESS PARK IFnomoio a --
S P P-I | o .Rs3 o L It U Ny
Uno2. O rien Oak
5cKey to Map on Opposite
BEAUONT. Points of Interest
2. O'Brien Oak
3. M nonol Conty ortho
4. Nancy Tevis Market
6. New Crosby Hotel
9. South Texas State Fairgrounds
io. Magnolia Park
a. I 2
i I 1 I
Noah and Nancy Tevis were among the first of a group of settlers to
establish a community on the present site of Beaumont. The settlement
came to be known as the Tevis Bluff and River Neches Settlement. The
community's ecomony centered around the fur trapping activity and the
settlement became the most active fur trading center west of Louisiana.
At the time of its settlement the area that was to become Beaumont was
an ideal inland port. Because of the river's 60' depth at Tevis Bluff
the settlement was accessible by sidewheelers and schooners.
Fred W. Ogden established the first law practice in Beaumont.
Joseph Grigsby established the first cotton farm in Jefferson County.
With fifty slaves, Grigsby was one of the richest men in Texas.
Henry Mt11ardof Thomas B. Huling and Co. purchased 50 acres of Tevis'
property to lay out the town of Beaumont.
Millard, Pulsifer and Co. consolidated their 100 acres with 50 acres
owned by Grigsby and the remainder of the Tevis estate held by the
widowed Nancy Tevis in a bid for the relocation of the Jefferson
The Jefferson County Seat moved to Beaumont.
Beaumont began to emerge as a center of the east Texas lumber industry.
During the 1840's Southern farmers moving into the Beaumont area devel-
oped cotton, sugar and cattle as the areas major agricultural endeavors.
Rice was introduced and became a prominent part of Beaumont's agricul-
ture. The rice grown during the early stage of Beaumont's development
was known as "Providence rice" because natural rainfall was relied on
Beaumont's first saw mill was constructed by Judge Lewis. During the
1850's three more saw mills were constructed. Only the mill owned by
the Long Manufacturing Co. survived the Civil War.
The Jefferson County Courthouse was constructed at Beaumont.
Ruff and Ward erected one of Beaumont's earliest circular saw mills.
Irrigation was introduced for rice production after the Civil War.
Thomas Carroll and James Long established the Long Shingle and Saw Mill.
Valentine Weiss established a general store in Beaumont, which expanded
into a banking and insurance business.
Between 1876 and 1878 four saw mills were built in Beaumont to cope with
the post-war lumber demand.
Beaumont's lumber production peaked at 200,000 feet per day during the
The Crosby Hotel was built for John B. Goodhue, Vice President of the
East Texas Railroad. This hotel came to be known as the "exchange"
during the oil boom.
Connection to the railroad system and silting of the river caused a de-
cline in water transport to and from Beaumont during the 1880's.
Beaumont purchased the Fireman's hall and the Negro Odd Fellows hall
for $567.50 for schools for 253 white and 174 black school age children,
after organizing its first public school system.
The school system was placed under the management of the school principals.
George Smyth organized the Sabine Tram Co.
The First National Bank of Beaumont was established.
The North End School was built by popular subscription and bond issue.
Beaumont's first large commercial rice mill opened.
The Savage brothers drilled three small oil wells and built a small
Heisig and Smelker, Real Estate, Fire Insurance and Bonds was established.
The schools closed during 1896-1897 due to lack of funds.
A school tax was instituted.
Beaumont's rice production increased to 62% of Texas' total rice produc-
On January 10, 1901, Anthony Lucas' oil well at Spindletop field gushered.
Between 1901 and 1908 the Beaumont Iron Works and the Neches Iron works
Spindle Top produced 17,420,949 barrels of oil, 96% of Texas' oil produc-
tion during the year 1902.
The Bell Austin Institute was established.
The New Crosby Hotel was built on the site of its predecessor.
Beaumont's Y.M.C.A. Building was erected.
Beaumont High School and two Negro school buildings were constructed.
The Alamo Commercial Block was constructed.
The Beaumont Country Club was organized.
The Civic Federation of Beaumont was organized to promote the communi-
ties welfare and social activities.
A 9' deep channel was completed between the Neches and Sabine Rivers. The
completion of a channel between Port Arthur and the mouth of the Neches
River provided clear access between Beaumont and the Gulf of Mexico.
C. L. Wallis of the Higgins Oil Co. constructed a wharf and loading facili-
ties on Beaumont's canal.
Ten railroads served Beaumont including major trunk lines of the San
Francisco, Santa Fe, Southern Pacific and Kansas City Southern Railroads.
Construction of a turning basin and the deepening of the channel to 25'
Beaumont adopted a city manager-commission form of municipal government.
During the 1920's oil was Beaumont's leading economic asset, rice was
second and lumber was a declining third.
W. C. Tyrrell purchased the former First Baptist Church and donated it
to the City of Beaumont for a public library which opened in7'1926.
An oil strike in the second Spindletop pool resulted in a second gusher
and greater oil production than the first pool at Spindletop.
The Beaumont channel was deepened to 30 feet.
The Beaumont channel was deepened to 32 feet.
The production of the second Spindletop pool reached 75,000,000 barrels.
The purchase of the Yount-Lee Co. (discoverer of the second Spindletop
pool) for $41.6 million was the third largest business transaction in
U. S. history. The Yount-Lee Co. was purchased by the Stanolind Oil Co.
Mechanical loading equipment was installed on the Beaumont docks.
Beaumont's 40,000 acres of rice was furnishing production for three of
Texas' fourteen rice mills.
The paper pulp industry was beginning to emerge as a major economic
factor in Beaumont.
During the 1940's the derricks and tank farms of Spindletop field were
the dominant features of Beaumont's landscape.
S 87. StateHighways
S- Connecting Streets
) Points of Interest-Number
a Points of Interest-Symbol
0 1/8 1/4 1/2 I
S2 3 4 I 5
Key to Map on Opposite Page.
GALVESTON. Points of Interest
I. Mosquito Fleet
2. Galveston News-Tribune Plant
3. St. Mary's Cathedral
4. Trinity Episcopal Church
5. Rosenberg Library
6. Walter Gresham House
7. Sacred Heart Church
8. El Mina Shrine Temple
9. Texas Heroes Monument
10. Ursuline Convent
1 I. Menard House
12. Samuel May Williams House
13. Fort Crockett
14. Principal Hospital Area
Alonso Alvarez de Pindea mapped the Texas coast along with the rest of the
Gulf of Mexico while searching for a western route to India.
Cabeza de Vaca and the remainder of the Narvaez expedition were ship
wrecked and washed ashore at Galveston Island to be captured by the
cannibalistic Karankawas. Cabeza's knowledge of medicine may have been
the salvation of the group. In 1835 Cabeza and three others escaped to
make a historic trek to the Gulf of California. The account was pub-
lished, "Relacion", in Spain in 1542.
During the Mexican Revolution against Spain Don Luis Aury established
a Mexican attack base on Galveston Island to prey on Spanish merchant
Jean Lafitte and his followers established a settlement, Campeche, on
Two French Generals, L'Allemand and Rigaud, with a force of 400 men
established a settlement adjacent to Campeche. An establishment known
as the "Red House" came to be the center of social activity, which was
supposedly somewhat more sophisticated than the past time at the adjacent
The Battle of Three Trees resulted from the kidnapping of a Karankawan
squaw by four of the pirates from Campeche
Campeche was burned when Lafitte and his men were evicted by Lieutenant
Lawrence Kearney, U.S.N. After Lafitte's departure only the Red House
and the buildings erected by the French fortune hunters remained.
The legislature of Coahuila and Texas made Galveston a Mexican port.
The Mexican government established a customs house at Galveston.
M. B. Menard and nine associates were granted 4,587 acres of land in
The provisional government of the Republic of Texas established Galveston
as a naval base for operations against Mexico.
Menard and his associates founded the Galveston City Co. on April 13, 1838.
Samuel Williams and M. B. Menard both erected houses, Greek revival in
style, shipped prefabricated from New England. Prefabricated houses made
un a high percentage of the cargo shipped into Galveston due to shortages
of local materials and skilled labor. The firm McKinney and Williams
capitalized on this. Specializing at first in cargo consignment this
merchantile firm established the trade link between Europe and Galveston
and were responsible for the construction of the earliest wharves in
Galveston. Eventually McKinney and Williams diversified into Real Estate,
lumber, steam shipping and building construction.
John S. Sydnor established a major trade in slaves in Galveston. He was
to become Galveston's first Mayor after the town's incorporation.
The city of Galveston was chartered with 250 house already constructed.
The Oleander was introduced to Galveston. This plant is a major feature
in Galveston's landscape responsible for Galveston's nickname "The
Michael Cronican and Wilbur Cherry founded the Galveston News. In 1843
Willard Richardson acquired controlling interest. The first building
for the Galveston News was constructed for Richardson in 1858. After
A. H. Belo acquired financial control of the "News" in 1881, N. J. Clayton
was commissioned to design a new building which was among the first
buildings in the U. S. to be designed specifically for the publication
of a newspaper. In 1923, the "News" became part of the Moody financial
empire and was combined with the Galveston Tribune in 1926.
The Kauffman Co. established what was to become a major Galveston enter-
prise in cotton and food stuffs.
Mayor John Sydnor established Galveston's fire and police departments,
a city market and attempted to introduce public education. The school
system failed due to lack of public support. Under Sydnor's leadership
Galveston's first City Hall was built and property was acquired for a
City Government-Market complex that was built in 1888.
The Ursuline Convent was established by Bishop John Odin. The first
convent building was constructed in 1854, with additions made in 1861,
1871 and 1892. The nuns operated a hospital in the convent during the
The Powhattan Hotel was constructed for John Sydnor. Its location pro-
hibited its success.
St. Mary's Cathedral was constructed under the direction of John Odin,
the first Bishop of Texas. This is the oldest church in Galveston.
The Galveston Wharf Co. was established. The enterprise began as a
consolidation of the interests of Menard, Sydnor and Lufkin. By 1859
there were ten members of the company. Among the investors were:
Samuel Williams, John Sealy, Henry Rosenburg, A. F. James, E. B. Nichols,
William Ballinger and Robert Mills. The conservative nature of this
group was to be the guiding light of Galveston's development. In 1868
the City of Galveston acquired 1/3 interest in the Galveston Wharf Co.
William Hendley and Co. began construction of the Hendlev Buildinq at
Strand and 20th Street. This was to be Galveston's first major com-
mercial building. The materials, granite and brick, were shipped from
The house built for John Sydnor was probably the second poured concrete
structure built in the U. S.
Construction began on the Galveston Custom's House. This brick and cast
iron building may have been the first architect-designed building in
Galveston, and possibly in all of Texas with the exception of the Spanish
Galveston's first example of Victorian architecture was constructed for
J. M. Brown, a successful hardware merchant. The "Brown House" was
eventually to become the Shriners' Hall in 1927.
A cast iron fronted warehouse was built for E. S. Wood and Sons, which
was eventually to house the Salvation Army before its demolition in 1962.
Galveston's population reached 6,537 with an aggregate business value
The completion of the Offat's Bayou Bridge gave Galveston its first
railroad access to the mainland.
During the period 1861-1866 the Civil War caused a complete halt to
Galveston's building activity.
William B. Renshaw occupied Galveston for the Union Army. Support for
the Confederacy was not as strong in Galveston as in the rest of Texas
due to a complete lack of attempt by the Confederate forces to defend
General John McGruder re-captured Galveston for the Confederacy.
Wallis, Landes and Co. was established. The firm was to become a major
enterprise in grocery, cotton, liquor and import markets.
W. L. Moody and his partners established the firm, Moody, Bradley and Co.
Colonel Walter Gresham, a lawyer and veteran of "Lee's Ranger", moved to
Galveston to establish a law practice. Gresham's efforts eventually re-
sulted in a lucrative practice, the organization of the Gulf, Colorado
and Santa Fe Railroad, and a seat in the U. S. Congress.
St. Mary's infirmary was established by the Sisters of Charity of the
Incarnate Word. The infirmary building designed for this order by
N. J. Clayton in 1874, is the oldest hospital in Texas.
During the 1870's the "Commercial Row" on Strand between 22nd and 25th
Streets was the driving force in Galveston.
During the 1870's Galveston became the Gulf terminal of the Missouri
Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroads.
The Harmony Club, a social-business organization, was organized by
Galveston's Jewish community. The Congregation B'nai Israel Synagogue
was constructed by the successful Jewish element.
The drygoods firm of Arnold and Co. occupied the original Galveston News
Building. This building eventually became Henry's Bookstore in 1945.
The Washington Hotel was built for J. P. Davey.
The first post-war municipal elections were held in Galveston.
The Block-Oppenheimer Building marked a transition in Galveston's com-
mercial buildings from uniform blocks to specialized structures. The
cast iron elements were made locally by the Walsh and Cleary Iron Foundry.
Galveston was hit by a major storm.
Galveston's recovery from the Panic of 1873 during the period 1875-1880
marked the beginning of a building boom and N. J. Clayton's influence
on the architecture of Galveston. Some of Clayton's major buildings:
St. Patricks Church
Masonic Temple (1882)
Galveston County Jail (1878)
Sacred Heart Church (1884)
Ricker House (1888)
John Sealy Hospital (1889)
Galveston's population reached 22,224 with an aggregate business value
During the 1880's Norris Wright Cuney, a black leader, led the drive for
the education of blacks. Cuney's efforts are responsible for the rela-
tively high percentage of black professionals in Galveston.
The city purchased the Powhattan Hotel for an orphanage. The city orphan-
age moved in 1893, to a building funded by an endowment left to the city
by Henry Rosenberg.
The Harmony Club built a social activities center, Harmony Hall. The
building was rented to the Galveston Business University during the
1890's and purchased by the Galveston Scottish Rites in 1902. The build-
ing burned in 1928.
The Galveston Pavillion, designed by N. J. Clayton, was built by contrac-
tor, Harry Devlin, for the Galveston City Railway Co. The Pavillion was
Galveston's first resort building and became Galveston's first to be
lighted by electricity.
The establishment of W. L. Moody and Co. was one step among many leading
to the $400 million empire in Real Estate, Banking, Publishing, Insurance
and all aspects of commerce that Moody's son, W. L. Moody, Jr., left
behind when he died in 1954. The Moody Building designed by N. J. Clayton
represents a change in Clayton's architecture from victorian to Beaux-Arts
The Beach Hotel designed by Clayton, backed in part by the Galveston City
Railroad Co., was constructed, but never proved financially successful.
It burned in 1898.
The J. J. Schott Manufacturing Co. was established. Originally a pro-
ducer of patent medicines the company achieved prominence with the
production of Moxie soft drink syrup in the 1920's.
Walter Gresham commissioned N. J. Clayton to build a Victorian palace
for his wife Josephine. The building became the official residence for
the Bishop of the Galveston diocese in 1923.
Morris Lasker moved the M. Lasker Real Estate Co. to Galveston. In
addition to Real Estate Lasker was prominent in banking.
The University of Texas Medical School Building designed by N. J. Clayton
E. 0. Flood began to make a major impact on Galveston's economy in the
wholesale and retail sale of coal.
The Sealy Hospital was constructed with a $50,000. bequest from John Sealy.
This building now serves as part of the teaching hospital complex staffed
by the University of Texas medical and nursing schools.
The U. S. Post Office and Custom House was constructed.
The federal government completed $6.2 million in improvements to make
Galveston a deep water port.
The construction of Fort Crockett, a coastal artillery post, was completed.
On September 8, 1900, the Galveston storm killed 5,000 to 8,000. The
third floor of City Hall was blown off and hundreds of buildings were
leveled. After the wreckage was cleared, the construction of a 17' high
seawall on the gulf side of the island began. Galveston's grade was
raised to the top of the wall on the gulf side tapering to sea level at
Galveston became the first city in Texas to establish a city commission
form of government.
Between 1903 and 1905 the replanting of Galveston took place. The raising
of Galveston's grade eliminated nearly all pre-1900 trees.
The Rosenberg Library opened, funded by a $620,529 endowment left by
Henry Rosenberg for the establishment of a free public library in
Fort Crockett served as a mobilization center during the border disputes
The completed portion of the seawall was tested by another major storm.
The wall held but eight were killed.
Galveston's third City Hall was constructed. The old City Hall damaged
by the 1900's storm was taken over by the fire and police departments.
The main section of the Powhattan became the British Consulate.
A multi-lane causeway connecting Galveston with the mainland was com-
pleted at a cost of $2.5 million.
The Congregation B'nai Israel Synagogue was taken over by the Masonic
To, r 75--
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A. C. and J. K. Allen, New York land speculators who had come to Texas
in 1832, purchased two leagues of land that are now Houston, with the
intent of incorporating a town to be promoted for the location of the
capitol of Texas. The upper league (4,444 acres) was purchased for a
price of one dollar per acre, half in cash and half secured by promis-
sory note, from William T. Austin. The lower league was purchased
from Elizabeth (Austin) Parrott for $5,000, $1,000 in cash and the
remainder secured by promissory note. The town of Houston was promoted
through the Telegraph and Texas Register published by Gail and Thomas
Borden, for all intent and purposes the official mouthpiece of the
government of the Republic of Texas. It should be noted that the Allen
brothers earlier made considerable land purchases in Galveston with the
intention of promoting it for the capitol's location, but failed to
gather sufficient control and support needed for success.
On November 30, the Texas legislature confirmed Houston as the location
for the capitol. By 1837, sentiment was developing for moving the
Texas Railroad, Navigation and Banking Co. was the first Houston
financed railroad in Texas. The venture failed because public opposi-
tion to eminent domain prevailed.
The Telegraph and Texas Register became Houston's first newspaper when
it followed the seat of government there.
On June 5, Houston was incorporated; the first elections followed on
Harris County constructed its first court house.
The use of water transport by steam driven side-wheelers on Buffalo
Bayou was instituted, and was to remain the major means of water
transport until 1878.
The building industry of 1837 Houston is characterized by the Telegraph
and Texas Register comment "We frequently notice on our way to break-
fast a quantity of lumber thrown carelessly in a heap and upon returning
in the evening are greeted by the surprising appearance of a house."
The establishment of the Philosophical Society of Texas, The Franklin
Debating Society, and the "Portrait Gallery at the capitol building
mark the beginning of the cultural development in Houston.
Anti-dueling ordinance was established to reduce violence in Houston.
The first religious activities in Houston were led by Methodist minister,
Littleton Fowler, who became the Senate chaplain.
Thomas House established a business in drygoods and foodstuffs, and
remained prominent through 1880. House was a blockade runner during
the Civil War and expanded into real estate and banking after the war.
The Brazos and Galveston Railroad Company was chartered followed by
Harrisburg Railroad and Trading Co. (1841), Houston and Brazos Railroad
Co. (1839). These early Houston financed railroad ventures failed.
The Houston police force was established with two constables salaried
The National Intelligence became Houston's second newspaper.
In September the Capitol was officially moved to Austin.
William M. Rice established his merchantile business in cotton and
cargo consignment. Rice remained prominent until 1863, branching
into real estate and railroad investment. After leaving Houston, he
founded Rice Institute in 1891.
Texas stage line established Houston-to-Richmond service.
Buffalo Bayou Co. was chartered and contracted for the clearance of
channel between Houston and Harrisburg.
Henry F. Byrne opened one of Houston's earliest subscription library.
The Morning Star became the third of Houston's newspapers to be
followed by: Weekly Telegraph (1852-73), Tri-Weekly Telegraph (1855-64),
Daily Telegraph (1864-77), Houston Union (1868-69), Tri-Weekly Houston
Union (1869-70), Houston Daily Union (1870-74).
Houston was re-chartered to incorporate an area three miles square
divided into four wards (quadrants) with two aldermen per ward.
The Texas Stage Line opened Houston-to-Austin service.
Port of Houston was established and empowered to tax the use of Houston
Harbor and maintain a clear channel. After 1845 this taxation was
Discountinued. Free wharfage was provided in return for the maintenance
of the channel by boat owners.
The Presbyterians built one of the earliest churches in Houston followed
closely by other religious groups:
Roman Catholics (1842)
N. K. Kellum opened a brick factory and began producing masonry units
of quality competitive with the brick manufactured in the East.
R. T. Kane established freight service between Washington, Texas and
Houston for agricultural marketing.
The construction of the Davis Cotton Compress marked the beginning of
major growth of cotton market in Houston. The following sequence
characterizes the development of Houston cotton Market:
Houston Cotton Compress (1860)
Bayou City Compress (1875)
People's Compress (1881)
International Compress (1882)
Inman Compress (1883)
By 1910 there were six cotton oil mills, seven compresses and twelve
cotton warehouses on Buffalo Bayou.
Construction of graded and drained roads in counties adjacent to Harris
County allowed the improvement of overland transport service to and
Sidney Sherman of Houston and a group of Boston investors bought the
Harrisburg Town Co. and contracted with W. J. Kyle and B. F. Terry to
build the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway (B.B., B. & C.)
along the route surveyed by the Harrisburg Co. The construction was
completed to Harrisburg in 1856.
The establishment of a sash and blind factory with horse-powered
machinery by J. Thompson was among the earliest venturesin building
Despite the influx of foreign born immigrants into Houston, the people
migrating from the southeast U. S. dominated the population of Houston
Born in southern U. S. 48%
Born outside the U. S. 33%
These figures do not include slaves.
The Galveston and Red River Railroad began construction of a link
between Houston and Austin. The company's name was changed to Houston
and Texas Central Railroad (H. & T. C.) in 1856. The Galveston, Houston
and Henderson Railroad Co. (G., H. & H.) began a line between Galveston
and Houston with the intention of tapping the H. & T. C. line. Houston
businessmen prevented this connection to cut off Galveston from connection
with the inland railroad system developing at this time.
The Houston Lyceum was established to further the acculturation of Houston.
This organization sponsored numerous cultural events including lectures,
debates and musical programs. The Lyceum also sponsored a library. In
the early years of the 20th century the Lyceum was instrumental in found-
ing the first free Public Library in Houston.
The City of Houston approved the construction of a "tap line" to connect
with the Harrisburg line constructed by the B. B., B. & C. Railway. The
contract was let to Kyle and Terry for $130,000. The "tapline" was sold
to a group of planters in 1858 for $172,000. These cane growers extended
the line south to the sugar growing region, resulting in the nickname
"Sugar Road". The first shipment of sugar and molasses rolled to Houston
The H. & T. C. Railroad reached Cypress Creek.
The state of Texas adopted a plan to connect its railway system, which
centered on Houston, to the East-West transcontinental lines.
In 1856 only 175 of 700 youths ages 16-17 were enrolled in school.
Work began on the Texas and New Orleans Railroad (T. & N. 0.), originally
chartered as the Sabine and Galveston Bay Railway and Lumber Co., to
by-pass Galveston in favor of Houston. The major purposes of this line
were to bring lumber from east Texas' timber region and to enhance com-
mercial ties with New Orleans, siphoning of goods that would normally be
consigned to merchants in Galveston.
James H. Stevens endowed the city with $5,000 to establish a permanent
The H. & T. C. Railroad reached Hempstead. To this point the venture
had cost an average of $22,650 per mile of track laid.
The $5,000 endowment of J. H. Stevens was supplemented by $15,000 from
a fund drive. The Academy Building superintended by Ashbel Smith opened
in 1858. The following year the school was attended by 140 students and
taught by 5 teachers.
Up to 1860 Houston's major sources of revenue were wharfage, licence
fees, bond issues and special taxes. After 1860 wharfage fees were
abolished due to railroad competition. At this point ad valorem
property taxes became Houston's major source of revenue.
Major municipal expenditures up to 1860: streets, bridges, city hospital,
salaries; secondary expenditures: schools, cemeteries, sanitation, police
and fire protection and market control. After the Civil War municipal
indebtedness became a major expenditure.
During the Civil War Houston served as an administration and distribution
center. Houston Confederate Civil War units were:
Bayou City Guards
Rough and Ready Guards
Houston manufacturers numbered 21 with 158 employees and production
valued at $240,868. Merchantile establishments numbered 150-175.
The first train passed between Houston and Galveston over the Galveston
Bay causeway built by the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad Co.
(G. H. & H.).
The T. & N. 0. Railroad reached Beaumont. The line never reached New
Orleans under the T. & N. 0. ownership.
Houston businessmen financed a venture, commanded by Confederate General,
John B. McGruder, that resulted in the re-capture of Galveston from Union
C. S. A. forces turned the Academy Building into a military hospital.
The end of the Civil War marked the beginning of efforts by the African
Methodist Church to educate blacks.
The G., H. & H. Railroad bridged Buffalo Bayou and connected to the
H. & T. C. line.
The first serious attempts to enlarge Buffalo Bayou began. Houston
steamers began mid-channel cargo transfer to by-pass Galveston and
its wharfage rates.
The Houston Direct Navigation Co. formed to combat Galveston's hold on
incoming cargo. The efforts of this combine resulted in a 75& reduction
in shipping costs between Galveston Bay and Houston by 1871.
Special legislation established The Young Men's Real Estate and Building
Association of Harris County, the fore-runner of later Building and Loan
Associations. Prior to the Civil War popular prejudice prevented the
establishment of formal banking institutions. In 1860 the First National
Bank was established by Thomas M. Bagby, Followed by:
City Bank of Houston (1870)
National Exchange Bank (1873)
Houston Land and Trust Co. (1875)
The Houston Gas Light Co. began providing service for private gas light-
ing in Houston.
Operation of a horse drawn city transit railway system began operation
on the "Houston Tap" rails. The Houston City Railroad Co. opened for
business operating mule-drawn cars on wooden tracks. Eight of these
cars were in operation by 1874. The use of mule-drawn city transit
continued in Houston until 1891.
The Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel Co. formed to dredge a nine foot deep
channel from Houston to Galveston Bay cutting through Morgan's Point to
avoid Clopper's Bar.
Houston City Cotton Mills opened, employing eighty for $1,500 per month
The German community in Houston initiated its sponsorship of the spring
Volksfest, an annual event that continued through the 1870's, drawing
crowds from all over southern Texas.
The U. S. government declared Houston a Port of Entry.
Houston manufacturers numbered 64 with 583 employees and production
valued at $305,359.
The dominance of immigrants from the southern U. S. continued to dominate
Born in the southern U. S. 67%
Foreign born 17%
In spite of the heritage of Houston's population the town was dominated
by frontier characteristics:
Emphasis on commerce
Leadership by merchants
Racial distribution in 1870:
The racial distribution of
slum that developed on the
Ward 5 characterizes Vinegar Hill, a post-war
north side of Buffalo Bayou.
Under Thomas Scanlan, the mayor appointed by Texas' post-war Radical
Party governor, Houston's indebtedness increased from under $300,000 to
$1,414,000. Scanlan, who was re-elected in 1872, effected major municipal
improvements: Bridge and road improvements, extension of sidewalks,
Caroline Street sewer and the construction of a City Hall-Market-Theater
complex which burned in 1876. Scanlan brought about social reform as
well by opening the city council and the police department to participa-
tion by blacks.
A plan for free, city-operated schools failed, but the efforts of public
school supporters resulted in a county school system, which was educating
1,561 students in 24 schools and paying salaries for 37 teachers at
$65.65/month by 1873.
Eureka Mills, financed primarily by local investors, opened with a capa-
city for processing cotton at a rate of 1700 pounds per day.
Houston instituted the practice of quarantine against the residents of
surrounding communities threatened by outbreaks of Yellow Fever.
The grounds for the state fair of the Agricultural, Mechanical and
Blood Stock Association were played out, complete with racetrack, grand-
stands and exhibition hall.
$10,000 Federal Grant was made available to aid in the improvement of
the Houston shipping channel.
Charles Morgan, a major gulf coast ship owner, instigated a personal
crusade against the Galveston Wharf Co. that resulted in near monopoly
of water transport to and from Houston by Morgan in the following years:
1. Purchase of the Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel Co.
2. Promotion of the construction of a twelve feet deep channel
by the Army Engineers.
3. Purchase of controlling interest in the Houston Direct
4. Purchase of the Texas Transportation Co. with its railroad
right-of-way between Houston and Brays Bayou.
5. Founding of Clinton, below Harrisburg, with rail service to
H. & T. C. Railroad reached Denison, Texas completing the rail link
between Houston and St. Louis. This was the first connection between
east Texas and the National railroad network.
The Houston Board of Trade was chartered on May 15, 1874, to promote
business interests. The formation of this group marks the climax of
Houston's commerce orientation and the beginning of a trend towards
Paul Bremond headed the formation of the Houston East and West Texas
Railway to provide rail connection between Houston and the east Texas
lumber producing region.
The Houston channel promoted by Charles Morgan was completed and the
Clinton delivered 750 tons of cargo directly to the Houston docks.
A new city government and market building was erected on the foundation
of the previous building erected during the Scanlan administration.
The Texas legislature provided for municipal control of schools and
a pro-rata sharing system for state education funds.
Houston adopted a free public school system, segregated by race and
governed by a School Board of Trustees appointed by the Mayor with
approval of the City Council.
Charles Morgan completed storage facilities, a cotton compress and a
stock yard at his Clinton transportation transfer point.
James M. Lowree contracted to build and maintain a public water works
of 3,000,000 gallons per day capacity with a 150,000 gallon reservoir,
at a maximum charge of 5 cents per 100 gallons to subscribers.
Western Union established a private telephone service.
Between 1879 and 1903 various attempts at street improvement resulted
in paving as follows:
6 miles asphalt
9 miles brick
6 miles gravel
3 miles bois d'arc blocks
1 mile macadam
The connection of Houston and New Orleans by the Morgan Railroad
started a period of de-emphasis of Houston as a port. The selection
of Galveston as "the Gulf Port of the America West" by the Army
Engineers contributed to the de-emphasis of Houston's port activity.
A segment of the H. E. & W. T. Railroad opened and Houston began
acting as the distribution hub for the Texas lumber industry.
The City of Houston bought Lowree's public water works.
Houston Electric Light and Power Co. was franchised to provide
electrical service in Houston.
The first exterior public lighting was installed in Houston along Main
Street at the intersections of Franklin, Preston, Texas Rusk and Lamar.
The H. E. & W. T. Railroad reached the Sabine River. This line was
purchased by Southern Pacific in 1899.
The Southern Pacific Railroad opened maintenance facilities in Houston.
J. F. Dickson established the Dickson Car Wheel Co. to manufacture
railroad car wheels. This company later became significant in the
manufacture of pumping equipment.
The Houston Water Works drilled 14 wells to avoid the problem of treat-
ing polluted Buffalo Bayou water.
The Houston City Street Railway merged with the Bayou City.Street
Railway. The consolidated system converted to electric power a year
Five national banks in Houston established the Houston Clearing House.
The charter of the Houston Commercial League was the first in a series
of social-business promotion clubs and associations:
Houston Business League (1895)
Houston Manufacturers' Association (1900)
Merchants' and Business Men's Association (1900)
Industrial Club (1906)
Houston Bankers', Jobbers' and Manufacturers'
2000,000 Club (1908)
Young Men's Business League (1916)
The subdivision of South Houston marked the beginning of suburban
development around Houston. South Houston was followed by:
Houston Heights (1891)
Deer Park (1893)
Magnolia Park (1909)
West University Place (1919)
River Oaks (1923)
Long distance telephone service was introduced in Houston.
A sewage treatment system was constructed to relieve the effects of
pollution on Buffalo Bayou. The early efforts at sewage treatment
were little more than token gestures.
The city purchased 16 acres for Houston's first public park which was
named after Sam Houston. Sam Houston Park is now a preserve of the
Harris County Heritage Society.
The M. T. Jones Lumber Co. moved to Houston and the years trade in
lumber reached 420 million feet.
Houston's Grand Central Station built by H. & T. C. Railroad served
nine railroad companies posting 20 arrivals and departures daily.
The Spindletop gusher at Beaumont Texas led to the involvement of
Houston's business community in a variety of Oil-related enterprises.
Houston contractors on the Spindletop field founded the Sharp-Hughes
Tool Co. Peden and Co. of Houston expanded into the manufacture of
drilling equipment. Five major Houston enterprises switched to oil
as a fuel source:
Anerican Brewing Association
Houston Electric Street Railway
Southern Pacific Railroad
International and Great Northern Railroad
The U. S. Congress allocated $1,000,000 for a 25' channel down Buffalo
Bayou to Houston.
The Citizens Telephone Co. began burying its service cable.
The number of wells operated by the Houston Water Works had increased
to 69. In 1906 the city government assumed control of the Houston
The Humble Oil field came in and a pipeline was constructed to trans-
port the oil directly to Houston.
The free Carnegie Library opened.
The Texas Co. set up an oil storage depot at the intersection of the
International and Great Northern Railroad and the H. E. & W. T. Railroad
to be supplied by the 8" pipeline from the Humble field.
In this year the auto began to make an impact on Houston with the
cities first recorded hit-and-run auto accident. In October of 1908
Houston added its contribution to the woman driver "myth" with the
city's first recorded incidence of a woman driver running down a
Houston began employing street cleaners to minimize dust and mud on
The Southern Motor Car Co. opened an assembly and marketing operation
for the "Dixie".
The "Cotton School" opened to educate farmers' sons in the judging of
B. F. Yoakum constructed the "Houston Belt" and terminal to provide
car transfer on the periphery of the city.
Houston instituted its first auto control ordinance with provisions for:
Lights for night driving
Minimum age of 18
Right-of-way for horses
The Houston channel was completed to a depth of 18 1/2'.
Texas Co. moved its Headquarters to Houston.
A series of successful oil drilling sites beginning with the Goose
Creek site established Houston as a major oil transport center:
Blue Ridge (1919)
Pierce Junction (1921)
Conroe, Eureka Heights, Mykawa,
Tomball, South Houston (1930's)
The city began burying fire alarm wiring.
The Harris County Houston Ship Channel Navigation District was created
to provide revenue for channel improvements.
The number of autos in Harris County was 1,031 in 1911. The number
grew to 97,902 by 1930.
Houston Electric Light and Power Co. began burying its service cable.
Arthur C. Comey, a landscape architect from Cambridge, Massachusetts,
was commissioned by the Houston City Parks Commission to develop a
plan for land use and zoning in Houston.
A referendum provided for sharing costs of street paving 2/3 property
owner, 1/3 city.
$3 million bond issue passed for port facilities.
Construction of a cross-town trolley service was completed.
Carnegie Library for the colored opened.
Deepening of the channel was completed to 25'.
World War I caused a decline in Houston's commercial activity 1914 to 1919.
Armour completed a 20,000 ton/year fertilizer plant.
Southern Steamship Co. opened Houston-to-New York service.
Total length of paved streets increased to 196 miles.
The Gulf Oil Co. opened a mixing plant adjacent to the Houston channel
and moved their headquarters to Houston. The construction of the
Galena-Signal refinery was completed.
The Texas Portland Cement Co. established a plant at Houston.
Anderson, Clayton and Co., one of the world's leading cotton brokerage
firms moved to Houston from Oklahoma City. After WWI the company diver-
sified into food processing, manufacturing and insurance and became a
major financial empire.
The Reed Roller Bit Co. was established to manufacture oil drilling
The Humble Oil and Refining Co. was organized.
Construction of the Sinclair refinery was completed.
Deep Water Refineries was established in Houston.
Trucking lines began operating out of Houston to supplement the water
and railway transport industries.
Ferd Motor Co. started operation of its Houston assembly plant. The
plant continued to operate until 1930.
Houston's planners committed the city to auto for public transit in
refusing to push mass public transportation and in its expansion of
its street system during the 1920's.
Southern Motors Manufacturing Association, L.T.D. began production of
the "Ranger Four".
The Crown Oil and Refining Co. was established in Houston.
The Texas Chemical Co. established sulferic acid production facilities
in 1920 and expanded into fertilizer production two years later.
During the 1920's a building boom established the architectural
character in Houston that would prevail into the 1940's. Jesse H.
Jones, a major Houston contractor, wanted to establish a skyline
dominated by the uniform height of 10-story buildings. The scheme
failed when a competitor placed a 15-story structure in the midst of
a group of Jones' buildings. Important buildings of the period were:
Cotton Exchange (1924)
Warwick Hotel (1926)
Medical Arts Building (1926)
Petroleum Building (1927)
Gulf Building (1929)
Neils Esperson Building (1927)
Humble Building (1921)
Houston Central Library (1926)
Harris County Criminal Courts and Jail Building (1927)
The value of Houston's 1920 building permits $10,398,000.
Manually operated semaphore traffic signals were introduced to Houston.
Tower-controlled traffic signals were installed at the intersection of
Capitol and Main.
The American Maid Floor Co. established a milling plant in Houston.
Houston Lighting and Power Co. replaced its predecessor.
Mayor Oscar Holcombe created the Houston Planning Commission.
A children's zoo was added to the facilities at Hermann Park.
The city Harbor Board merged with the Board of the Houston Ship Channel
Navigation District to form the Houston Port Commission.
A program was initiated to replace wooden bridges in Houston with
steel and concrete structures.
Bus service was established for Houston.
Houston's lumber market reached 3 billion feet with 68 companies.
Jitneys were outlawed to protect the street car system.
Houston purchased an abandoned National Guard camp for Memorial Park.
The Houston Art League opened a permanent museum.
The total value of Houston's 1925 Building Permits was $35,041,000.
Natural gas became available for domestic and industrial use in
Houston. Major suppliers were:
Houston Gulf Gas Co.
Houston Pipe Line Co.
Houston Gas and Fuel Co.
National Air Transport Inc. started air mail service to Houston.
The "Harris County Road Improvement Plan" was instituted.
Carnegie Steel built warehousing facilities at Houston.
Automatic traffic control signals were implemented in Houston.
Buses and street cars contributed 9.5% to the vehicular presence in
downtown Houston while carrying 79.6% of the passengers during 1927.
Houston Colored Junior College opened. Its name changed several times
in the next three decades:
Houston College for Negroes (1934)
Texas State University for Negroes (1947)
Texas Southern University (1951)
Houston Airport Corp. established an airfield in Houston. The airfield
was purchased by the city in 1937.
Reorganization of the city planning commission under James S. Hogg
resulted in the first comprehensive plan for Houston. Under Hogg the
city appropriated $1.4 million for a civic center.
A concrete road was built between Houston and Galveston.
The Houston Airport Corp. opened Houston's first municipal airport on
193 acres on Telephone Road.
James Hogg completed Houston's Land Use Plan. The zoning proposed
Houston was ranked 8th among the nation's ports.
Shell Oil Co. constructed a refinery. In 1933 Shell's regional office
moved to Houston.
A flood caused $1.4 million in damages.
The Houston Property Owners' League, an anti-zoning group, repeatedly
defeated zoning attempts in Houston during the 1930's.
Depth of the Houston channel was increased to 30'.
During the 1930's
Texas railroads were consolidated under 6 companies:
Southern Pacific Railroad
Missouri Pacific Railroad
Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad
Santa Fe Railroad
Rock Island Railroad
Inland cotton transport was facilitated by the completion of an all-
weather road between Houston and the Rio Grande valley.
Builder, Jesse Jones, organized Houston's bankers preventing the
collapse of any of Houston's banks under the pressure of the depression.
Jones was appointed to the Board of the Reconstruction Finance Corp.
Houston's annual Building Permit value dropped to $2.9 million.
Southern Pacific constructed a $3 million depot.
A flood covered 2/3 of Harris County, killed seven and damage $2.5
million in property.
The 570' San Jacinto Monument was built for the Texas Centennial.
Jesse Jones obtained a $1 million grant from the U. S. Centennial
Houston's annual Building Permit value climbed to $18.5 million.
The Harris County Flood Control District was created.
Houston's annual Building Permit value was $25 million.
Jesse Jones served concurrently as Federal Loan Administrator and U. S.
Secretary of Commerce 1940-1945.
The Army Corps of Engineers built two flood control dams west of
Houston's urban center.
Houston Airport was designated an International Terminal.
Washburn Tunnel under the Houston Channel opened.
Missouri Pacific opened the Settegest railyards.
The Houston International Airport opened.
Southern Pacific opened the Englewood switching yards.
Houston Channel expansion began to achieve a 40' depth and a maximum
width of 400'.
The construction of the N.A.S.A. Manned Spacecraft Center took place
throughout the 1960's.
The World Trade Center opened.
The Santa Fe Railroad opened a 600 acre industrial park.
The Houston Astrodome opened.
The Houston Civic Center opened.
The Houston Intercontinental Airport opened.
COASTAL TEXAS GALVESTON AND HOUSTON
ARCHITECTURE AND HISTORY
David P. Rigney
Gulf Coast Architectural History
Instructor: Blair Reeves
GALVESTON AID IIOUSTQO, EXTREMES TI DEVELOP'EMT
Comparison of the development of Houston and Galveston after 1900,
provides a view of the extremes that are possible in urban development
within a distance of fifty miles when a basic difference of philosophy
prevails between the respective business co-munities. In the second
half of the 'Jineteenth Century, Houston was a frontier city in the
:l.o:od of its development while Galveston was a thriving financial
center and the third largest Fort in the United States.
r'.hile men like Thomas Bagby, Charles Morgan and Paul Bremond
;ere driving Houston forward in its unbridled development, others like
.illia M'oody, John Sealy and the owners of the Galveston ivWharf Company
were more concerned with maintaining the 'status quo'. In retrospect
it isdifficult to say what motivated Galveston's city fathers to re-
-tL'ain the growth of their city, but at least one historian indicates
tihat their desire to remain '"big fish", even if in a small pond, over-
cmle any inclination they might have had toward allowing continued
-rapid growth in Galveston. But on the other hand wisdom may have been
Lneir guiding light. Their action, that eventually strangled Galveston
ec~no:iically, has left their city with an architectural heritage known
only in a few cities of the United States.
It is possible that the Moodys and the Sealys of Galveston under-
stood the limitations of their city's island location with its fore-
luding exposure to the sea. Given the physical limitations of its
location alone, Galveston could have only grown so far and that would
not have begun to approach the expansion Houston has undergone. The
incorporated city limits of Galveston remain approximately where they
were when the city was chartered while Houston has doubled its
incorporated area by annexation at least twice and at one point came
near to taking over Harris County in its entirety in reprisal against
surrounding smaller communities that wished to share in the revenues
of its citizenry's enterprise.
It is interesting to note that in given periods strong sirilari-
ties exist in the development of Galveston and Houston, but when it
came to the question to grow or not to grow one said "yes' and
one said "no". The reason for this may go back to the difference in
philosophy and background of the founding fathers of the two cities.
V.hnile the men that developed and came to power in Houston exhibited
the drive and devil-may-care spirit of the frontier that is generally
associated with Texas and Texans, the men of power in Galveston were
a different breed, more akin to the southern aristocracy of Charleston
or Savannah. While economic power came easily to Galveston, largely
because of its location, Houston had to fight for economic power.
Houston had to be ready to take advantage of any toehold it could get
on the climb to economic power.
Between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the twentieth
century the Galveston Wharf Company literally handed Houston its status
as a port on a silver platter. While Galveston was exerting its in-
fluence in the Texas legislature to maintain access to the developing
inland railway network the men that built Houston were doing their best
to minimize that access. As inland transportation became increasingly
iTportant and water transport began to decline, Houston was ready for
the change but Galveston was caught in its own trap. After the turn
of the century, the decline of the cotton market struck Galveston a
final blow. For the following seventy years Galveston's Strand, once
labeled "the Wall Street of the Southwest" was to decline into rows of
decaying, vandalized empty warehouses and coanercial buildings. On the
other hand Houston's downtown has continued to develop and remain an
economically viable area. The concentration of facilities provided by
the recently constructed Civic Center provides for a range of activities,
but the downtown's economic viability is really provided by the financial
institutions and the business enterprises that find it convenient to
locate near the municipal government's center of activity.
The development that did occur in Galveston after the turn of the
century was primarily recreational in character and was directed at
visiting tourists. This development occurred mostly along the beaches
outside the downtown area. By the 1920's Galveston had gained quite a
reputation for its casino gambling. This is not to say that all com-
mercial and industrial activities suddenly ceased, because the opposite
is true. The wharf area continued to generate economic activity but
Galveston's heyday was a thing of the past. Ii this same period
Galveston adopted a zoning ordinance to segregate land use functions.
A major target of the early zoning law was to prevent the burgeoning
tourist business from over-running the city.
PRESERVATIOlN lT HOUSTONI
iouston's penchant for growth seems unlimited and likewise its
citizenry's disdain for managing that growth. With Jesse Jones act-
ing as Houston's guardian angel the city came through the Great
Depression as if nothing had happened in comparison with the impact
on other major urban area's across the United States. How many other
cities had not so much as a single bank to fail; how many saw total
bank deposits grow constantly throughout the Depression? Houston
answers yes to both questions. The building that took place in the
quarter century following the 1929 Stock Harket Crash represents the
majorityy of Houston's clain to an architectural past. Houston's
:;owth in the first half of the twentieth century was so rapid that
potentially important buildings met the demolition ball of progress
before an assessment of their value could be made. Annexations in
the 40's and 50's quadrupled Houston's land area in efforts to main-
tain a tax base on par with Houston's economic growth. The problems
of uncontrolled growth were multiplied by Houstonians' rejection of
zoning, land-use planning and in general the use of police powers in
the restriction of property rights. In addition to making law enforce-
;aent in the central city area near impossible it severely limited
wouston's potential for receiving Federal funding for urban problems.
ioustonians who have spurned federally funded urban renewal point to
projects like the Old Market Square and Allan's Landing which have
been realized totally by private funding. These projects, backed by
downtown business interests and the Harris County ileritage Society
won out over the objections of the lMayor and developers who wanted to
raze the area in question for a hotel. Now, over a decade later
nearly one fourth of the Old Market Square along with two buildings on
the nationall Register are slated for demolition to accommodate a new
County Administration Building. Both of the buildings in question have
all the protection that can be provided at the State and Federal levels.
What they lack is legitimacy within the legal framework of the local
government. While these buildings, the Sweeney, Combs and Fredericks
Jewelry Building (1882) and the Pillot Building (1857) will be regret-
able losses there are even more important architectural assets that
could be lost in the future.
Ih his 1974 speech to the Harris County Heritage Society, James
middle, the president of the national Trust for Historic Preservation,
addressed the future of the Sabine area on the north side of Buffalo
rayou. This blighted area is virtually the only :ineteenth Century
neighborhood remaining intact in Houston. There is no foreseeable
reason that Houston business would back the revitalization of this area
without the displacement of the low income residents. Th this respect
Houston has.been notoriously neglectful. In the late 1940's a survey
revealed that at least twenty percent of Houston's residences were
sub-standard. Ih 1967, while the Houston Housing Authority operated
2,500 living units there were as many as 21,000 families living in
sub-standard housing according to the "Houston Post' (Sept. 7, 1967).
A partial turn-around in this stance may be indicated by the
Housing Code Eniforecernt guidelines that have been developed for
Houston's municipal government. t is doubtful that any Federal
assistance will be available for this program due to Houston's gen-
eral non-compliance with the Iousing Act of 1949, and more recent
Federal laws that outline the need for master planning and zoning
in order to meet guidelines for Federal aide.
Should Houston not qualify for Federal aide the Code Enforecement Pro-
g.ram may be turned into a tool for clearing old neighborhoods to accom-
modate commercial development. This may have been the original
intention of the program which provides for aid to resident homeowners.
The program guidelines carry provisions for mandatory demolition of
buildings that continue to be substandard and are owned by absentee
landlords. Houston is no exception to the trend toward slum housing
ownership by individuals other than the occupants. Consequently a
large portion of the remaining architectural heritage of Houston
could be slated for demolition if Houston's slumlords do not see fit
to upgrade their buildings. The effect could be similar to the des-
tructive results of early urban renewal in cities across the United
At this point it is all too clear that Houston lacks the legal
framework by which to legitimize preservation at the local level.
At various times in iHouston's history elements within Houston's
business community have exhibited a degree of sensitivity towards
the city's architectural assets but this has for the most part been
offset by the "growth ethic'' that is prevalent in Houston. The bur-
den of Houston's preservation efforts have for the most part been
carried by private organizations like the Harris County Heritage
Society. The Heritage Society along with the Rice Design Alliance
and Creative Restoration are member organizations of the national
Trust for Historic Preservation. All evidence I have uncovered
points to the Heritage Society as the leader in preservation efforts
kWhile the heritage Society is dedicated to a broad range of
cultural pursuits, its efforts in the field of architectural
conservation have been applied most successfully to individual buildings
and have in a number of instances required moving the building in ques-
tion. The spearhead of their continuing preservation effort is repre-
sented by Sam Houston Park. Sam Houston Park was acquired by the City
of Houston in the last decade of the ineteenth Century to become
Houston's first public park, -and at-one time housed a city zoo. The
twenty acre park has been made the site for the Heritage Society's
collection of preserved buildings including: the ellum-J oble IHouse,
the San Felipe Cottage, the Long Row, the Pillot House, the Michols-
Rice-Cherry House, The Old Place and the St. John Church. Only the
Iellum-JLoble House is located on its original site which is part of
the Sam Houston Park. This house was originally the residence of
ithaniel edllum who operated the first brick factory in Houston
capable of competing with the quality of brick imported from Eastern
The most recent addition to Sam Houston Pork is the adjacent
-ite of the Old Fire Alarm Building, a 1938 example of Art Deco,
currently being rehabilitated for use as the Houston Museum of History.
Educational projects like the Museum of History are perhaps the most
important of the Heritage Society's accomplishments. ,Whnat Houstonians
need most in regard to preservation is an awareness of the value of
the remnants of their cultural past. Unfortunately an educational
program of the necessary magnitude takes tine and that seems to be
, factor not on the since of Houston's architectural heritage.
PRESERVATION IN GALVESTON
Post 1900 development in Houston and Galveston offer the extremes of
a broad spectrum of possibilities. The contrast in potential for the
success of meaningful architectural conservation preservation programs
in these two cities is just as startling as the differences in develop-
ment. While Houston developed so rapidly that it over-ran its archi-
tectural heritage before it could be appreciated; Galveston's lack of
economic growth has left several areas intact substantially as they were
in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Ironically it took an
architect, Howard Barnstone, from Houston and his book, The Galveston
That Was, published in 1966, to awaken Galvestonians to the treasure house
of architectural heritage in their own back yard.
The timing may be coincidence, but the Old Galveston Quarter was
legislated into legitimacy by the State of Texas (Texas Revised Civil
Statutes, article 6145-4) in 1970, just four years after the publication
of Barnstone's book. That same year the City of Galveston established
the Old Galveston Quarter by local ordinance. This may be the start of
a new era for "Old Galveston." Among those responsible for "driving
home", to the people of Galveston, the importance of Galveston's archi-
tectural heritage are:
Emily Whiteside, formerly the associate director of the Texas Fine
Arts Commission, currently the executive director of the Galveston
County Cultural Arts Council, requested by the Cultural Arts Council to
evaluate Galveston's cultural resources in 1971;
Ellen Beasley, a preservation consultant, commissioned by the
Galveston County Cultural Arts Council to organize an "Awareness campaign"
to promote architectural preservation in Galveston in 1973;
Daniel Fred, currently the director of Galveston's Office of Community
Development which is responsible for a program sponsoring low interest loans
and grants for preservation of existing housing;
Peter Brink, the executive director of the Galveston Historical Found-
ation, who has implemented the Strand Revolving since 1973 and has headed
a drive for support in the business sector;
The mention of these names should not detract from the recognition of
the contribution of all the organizations including: Galveston Historical
Foundation, the Galveston County Cultural Arts Council, Galveston Junior
League, Galveston Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce, who are making
preservation in Galveston a success. The contribution of the Galveston
Historical Foundation alone exceeds 2,000 in volunteer forces alone mus-
tered under the direction of Peter Brink.
The contribution of the business community and the local patrons of
the arts should not go unmentioned. The Moody Foundation and and 'Kempner
Fund provided the $215,000 seed money for the Galveston Historical Founda-
tion's Strand Revolving Fund which is to date responsible for the preser-
vation of fifteen Strand buildings. It is interesting to note that the
descendants of nineteenth century Galveston's powerful entrepreneurs are
among the foremost contributors in Galveston's preservation efforts. These
include Harris Kempner and Mary Moody Northen who purchased and rehabili-
tated the 1919 Moody Bank Building with her own personal funds for use as
the Galveston County Historical Museum. Three of the six banks that have
made a permanent pledge of $1 million in financing to the revitalization
of the Strand are owned or controlled by descendants of entrepreneurs that
helped build the nineteenth century "Wall Street of the Southwest."
In conclusion, preservation in Galveston unlike in Houston, has roots
in every aspect of the community. The various community organizations
including the municipal government have their own projects but are joined
in the common bond of the overall effort and in many cases combine their
efforts in tackling larger projects like the Strand revitalization and
the Grand Opera House rehabilitation. The objects of preservation range
from vernacular cottages for use by low income families to mansions like
the Ashton Villa, Galveston's symbol of the bicentennial. The results
of Galveston's preservation efforts are usable buildings for use by
people rather than relics in a twenty acre museum.
GALVESTON CHRONOLOGY CONTINUED
1966 Howard Barnstone published "The Galveston That Was".
Under the direction of John C. Garner, Jr., Galveston Historical Founda-
tion volunteers began an inventory survey program. The program
included approximately one thousand structures of which twenty-five
were chosen for preparation of H.A.B.S. photo-date books complete with
Architectural and Historical documentation.
1967 A H.A.B.S. team of four student architects supervised by Melvin M.
Rotch of Texas A & M University produced measured drawings of nine
Galveston buildings including:
1. Galveston Bagging and Cordage Company Factory
2. Gresham House
3. Hendley Building
4. St. Mary's Cathedral
5. Trinity Episcopal Church
6. Truehardt-Adriance Building
7. U. S. Custom House
8. Williams-Tucker House
1970 The old Galveston Historic District, a forty block area, was legiti-
mized by state enabling legislation and local ordinance.
1971 Miss Emily Whiteside, then associate director of the Texas Arts
Commission was brought to Galveston by the Galveston County Cultural
Arts Council to evaluate Galveston's cultural resources.
Ashton Villa was purchased by G.H.F., after its demolition was blocked
by City Council, for Galveston's Bicentennial Headquarters.
1973 The Strand Revolving Fund was initiated by the G.H.F.
The G.C.C.A.C. received a grant from the National Endowment for the
Arts to study the feasibility of the revitalization of the Strand.
G.H.F. entered an exclusive brokerage contract with fourteen real
estate firms for marketing Strand properties. The agreement was
terminated two years later.
1973 1975 The work on restoration of the Samuel May Williams HOuse began
with Ellen Beasley, preservation consultant, occupying the house as
Seven Strand Revolving Fund Buildings were sold with deed restrictions
on facade alteration.
Knapp Printing Building was rehabilitated for apartment use by
preservationist Emily Whiteside.
The Texas Historical Commission granted $40,000 for facade restoration
on the Stewart Title Building and Hendley Row.
A $9,000 N.E.A. grant funded the compilation of a legal guide to pres-
ervation revolving funds.
The East-End Historical District Association was founded.
The Old Strand Emporium, Georgette's Cafe Torreflie, the Strand Sur-
plus Center, Loft on the Strand and the Galveston Art Center opened
on the Strand.
The G.H.F. received a commitment for $1 million in permanent financing
from six Galveston banks for its Strand revitalization program.
With $300,000 in grants from the Houston Endowment and the Kempner
Fund the G.C.C.A.C. purchased the Grand Opera House and Hotel and
began planning for a six-phase rehabilitation program.
G.H.F. initiated a series of Galveston Bicentennial Heritage Tours
as an educational tool for Galveston's preservation.
The Ashton Villa was opened to the public as Galveston's Bicentennial
1975 1976 Six to eight new shops, a home furnishings store, four restau-
rants and a Victorian Pub were scheduled to open on the Strand prior
to the end of 1976.
Fifteen Apartments and four artist's studios have been added to the
Whiteside Townflats on the Strand.
The City of Galveston provided $54,500 in general funds and H.V.D.
Community Development funds for permanent historical exhibits and
improvements on the Strand.
The Action Plan for the Strand was completed by Venturi, Rauch and
Brown with funding from the N.E.A. and the Moody Foundation.
The esplanade on 20th Street south of the Strand was landscaped to
help provide a link with Galveston's central business area.
The Silk Stocking Historical District was founded.
Completion of the comprehensive historical survey work in Galveston
is due prior to the end of 1976.
H.U.D. and N.E.A. funds were provided for a study for the integration
of neighborhood preservation more completely with the city planning
1900 1930 A number of the older suburbs, among them Bellaire, West
University Place, and Southside Place developed their own zoning
laws, which were to remain in effect after annexation by Houston.
1902 Federally funded channel 25' deep down Buffalo Dayou-$1 million.
1910 $1.25 million bond issue supplemented by federal matching fund.
Houston's Union Station opened. Late in 1967 major renovations
1913 $3 million bond issue passed for port expansion.
1914 Chlannel completion to 25' depth completed.
1i'G 1917 The Federal Road Act (1916) and the creation of tile
Texas ; ighway Department (1917) riark the beginning of develop-
:itet of high-way travel in Houston. This is the starting point
for the develoj]-ient of the auto's dominance as a means of per-
sonal travel for the citizens of Houston.
1922 The Harris County Houston Ship Channel Navigation District
hQard merged with t-.e City harbor board forming a Port Cou.ais-
sion empowered to acquire facilities to -aximize use of the
Auto count in Harris County grew to 34,869 from the 1911 count
1923 Beginning with Bayshore Bus Lines nine bus lines proviIded
service to Houston by 1950.
1925 The practice of dele restriction in rany of the upper class resi-
dential subdivisions, i.e. River Oaks, provided the sane effect as
localized zoning without the acccroanying beauracracy. In the
case of River Oaks the restrictions have been renaeed th-rough
1970, but not without considerable opposition.
1929 Frcn 1924 the patronage of Houston's transit syst em increased
only 10% while population grew: G0;. The balance of the necessary
accamrodation for in-city travel was directed at -the a uto bilce.
Houston's pre-depression construction ]boon peaked at $35,320,000
in penuit value.
.1'q CoMipletion of channel e' ansion to 30' deptht7,4nn t. of public
docks with 17 berthsi72 niles of service railroad. 1930 .ark.ed
the peak of the pre-depression boon of THouston's cargo traffic.
1932 riarked the low point in ternas of cargo value and volumte.
By 1935 cargo volume surpassed 1930 level. Dy 1939 cargo valLue
passed the record level of 1930. tetee)n 1930 and 1.943 the
channel was deepened to 32'; tihe 34'; and 36 feet. During the
1930's lighting was liiproved allowin-g ngli-tf iC use of the
Auto count reached 97,902 in Har-ris County.
Relief funds provided during the period 1i30--33 helped provide
.iouston with ten paved roadways providing connection -o: Gan
Antonio, Beaunont, Alvin, Angleton, uest Coluiia, Luf:kin,
Texarkana, Dallas and waco.
1932 1935 Local agencies (400,000), state agencies (1,215,000),
Federal agencies (6,648,000) funneled money into Harris County
to revive its econorr projects included: county roads, slum
clearance, park inproverents, public buildings City Hall,
San Jacinto 11onutmt, Lar:r High School.
1935 As Chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Jesse
Jones secured a federal appropriation of $1,337,000 for the
construction of the Sam Houston Coliseum.
1335 1936 UPA activity peaked with the employment of 12,000;
expenditure of $2,179,000 spread over 69 projects in Harris
193~ Duilding penit value reached $18,500,000.
193' 1937 Under J!ayor O. F. HIolccrbe studies were m -de of the
deficiencies of Houston's air service and Houston acquired the
airfield established in 1927 by Houston Airport Corporation.
The interest in air travel was generated by Capt. Eddie
Rickenbacker of Eastern Airlines.
1933 Duilding pemrit value reached $25,000,000.
Zoning was defeated in a public referendum due to the opposi-
tion.'s inuendos equating the planning process to Corinunism.
1939 30% of the vehicles entering Houston's C. T. D. were autos
transporting 72% of the passengers entering the area while
buses and streetcars accainodated 15% of the total entering
passengers while comprising only 2% of the vehicular traffic. The
IPA survey that revealed these statistics also produced the first
attempt at comprehensive thoroughfare planning for Houston.
The Sears Building erected on South : lin Street was anong the
first of Houston's major suburban retail outlets.
1940 170,000 registered autos in Harris County.
Operation began at Houston Shipbuilding Corporation's Irish
Bend yard on the Channel.
The municipal airport on Telephone Road was ePqanded and im-
proved with federal funds and increased the airlines providing
scheduled service to four: Braniff, Eastern, Chicago and
San Felipe Courts became Houston 's first major low inccne
housing project. The 1000 unit apartment cormle:: as built on
30 acres on Buffalo Drive near the Jefferson Davis Hospital
with $585,000 in federal funds after a survey showed 25,680
families in substandard housing.
1940 1950 ibrld Har II provided major impetus for the petro-
chemical industry in the Houston area with $600 million in
investments during the war and $300 million in investi;ents
iinediately after the war.
Ilouston's population increased 54%; ]ank deposits increased
1940 1963 There was considerable decline in service oriented
office use in the downtown.
Doctors: 70% to 14%
Engineers: 76% to 24%
Architects: 30% to 10%
1941 Houston Planning connrission began preparation of its first
master plan for Houston's thoroughfares and buses replaced
streetcars in Houston.
Sheffield Steel Corporation began plans for a steel plant
with $12 million in aide from the Reconstruction Finance
Corporation (on the Houston Channel).
14j2 Between Spring 1942 and suarier 1943 the nxu er er.ployed by
Houston's shipbuilders increased fran 6,000 to 40,000.
1945 1949 Land value adjacent to tile Gulf Freeway right-of-way
increased an average of 200 300% with choice locations
increasing their value tenfold.
Harris County was first in the nation in industrial construction
value. 1948 $266,802,075 for Harris County
$100,160,322 for Houston alone
1945 -- 1950 $1.5 million Hermann Professional Building designed for
the Heirmann Hospital Estate Board on Fannin Street near Rice
Institute by Kenneth Franzheim.
$970,000 Veterans Administration branch office completed on
1945 1956 Shell Research Laboratories and addition constructed for
over $1 million on Bellaire Boulevard.
1943 Thru the efforts of Senator Tor Connally, Pep. Thomas Aljert
and the politicians of Houston, The Civil Aeronautics Board
designated Houston an international terminal with Braniff,
Southern and Pan American certified for International flight,
paved the way for the airport's expansion and expansion of
Property for the site of Houston's 7ain Street Hoolworth
Department Store sold for $2,000 per inch of frontage total
iHouston businessmen former the Central Houston Improvement
Association to revitalize the downtown area. Over the foll-ow.ing
three years $10,418,000 were spent on remodeling, new construc-
tion and public imTprovements. In addition, bus service for
shoppers and improved police protection were provided for the
1947 City lNational DanJ- opened downtFn.
Federated Departmrent Stores erected a new $9 million six
story building for its Foley's Department store in dao-.mto n.
Construction of new Foley's store sparked a burst of department
store construction. "The Fashion" remodeled for $2.5 million.
1947 1957 Total bus mileage decreased from 23 million to 15.2
million paralleling the intensification of Houston's suburban
orientation which was making mass transit increasingly unprofita-
ble and inconvenient. The number of per capital bus rides corres-
ponded to the decline of annual bus mileage.
1948 Houston's water-transported cargo volume reached a level second
only to New York City. Between 1948 and 1955 Iouston's port
facilities reached their capacity with ilouston declining to
fourth place in volume handled.
Sakowitz Dry Goods Store was enlarged and rexodeled for
$8 million. Joske's and lattelstein's were similarly refur-
Houston made its first major annexation doubling its size en-
compassing the suburbs of West University, South Side Place,
Dellaire, Galena Park, Jacinto City, South Houston, part of
Dy this year Houston was subsidizing only four housing projects
with 20% of its housing substandard: Cuney Homes, Kelley Court
for Jegroes, San Felipe Courts, Irvington Courts for Caucasians.
1948 1958 Downtown's share of retail sales dropped from 51% to 20%.
1949 The Shamrock Hotel opened. Developed by Glenn McCarthy on 15
acres at South lain and Dellaire Boulevard (Holcombe Boulevard)
for $21 million. The caoplex 5 miles from downtown included
accanodations for a wide range of service for the hotel's
clientele. It was taken over by the Hilton Iotels in 1954.
Ended a decade of growth in retail trade in Houston bringing
Houston to the number one position in growth among cities of
population exceeding 500,000 with corresponding development
in the dvowntn area.
Planning for a new Airport commenced under M ayor 0. F. Holconbe.
Houston International Airport (Uilliam P. Hobby Airport) was
constructed between 1951-1954 at a cost of $10 million con-
struction and planning proved unsatisfactory.
1950 Airport utilization increased to six major lines, to local
lines, and one air-freight line.
Total passengers 538,000
From abroad 45,000
(Frcn total 85,000 in 1944)
322,000 registered autos in iarris County.
1951 1954 Humble Oil constructed a $3 million research Center on
1952 A 348 unit $2.6 million urban renewal housing project opened
in the Schrrimpf Alley Slum Area.
The four-lane Gulf Freeway between Galveston and Houston was
completed at a cost of $28 million 86% of which was contributed
by state and federal governments in the first national urban
roadway improvement program. Capacity design at the Houston end
resulted in a cost of $1.6 million per mile in cornarison to the
$573,000 per mile average for the whole project.
A statewide survey recommended a minimum of four lanes for all
Houston's major thoroughfares. Planning began for a $100 million
loop system around Houston's central city.
The 19-story Prudential Building designed by Kenneth Franzheim
opened near the Shamrock Hotel.
1953 Battelstein's opened a branch store on Shepherd Drive near
The new Harris County Courthouse opened.
1954 Frank Tesley Sharp began Sharpstown $400 million 6,500 acre
planned community of 25,000 hames mostly 3 ]bedroon of brick;
average price $14,500; largest subdivision in the U.S. at
The Rehabilitation Cc=mittee of Domntown Houston formed, led
by First National Bank vice-president, J. L. Andrews, to re-
vitalize the downtown area between Duffalo Bayou and Texas
Avenue. The Harris County Heritage Society was formed.
1955 The Texas National Dank opened .dcxntown.
1956 The aluminum-faced Bank of the Southwest opened downtown.
Sak-witz opened a store in the new $20 million eighty acre
Gulfgate Iall on the Gulf Freeway.
Of Texas's $453 million federal highway allotment Houston's
roadway demanded $243 million.
The city's area was doubled the second time by annexation.
1957 Air traffic and the introduction of jet travel resulted in
Ii. I. A. obsolescence three years after opening.
Improvement and modernization of harbor facilities wharves,
warehousing and rail service began with the passage of a
1953 Cuannel expansion to 40' depth and 300-400' width began.
Lobbyists for Houston International were able to prevail over
Dallas's influence on the C. A. B. and opened east-~.est con-
nections thru Houston.
15M S"akowitz opened a $5 trillion store of "colonial" design at
Post Oak Drive and Testheimer Road..
Gibraltar Savings and Loan Association opened a new five-story
building faced in tinted solar glass downtion.
1960 Houston acquired a 3,126 acre jet port site from Jetero, Inc.
caqposed of 17 Houston businessmen for $1,980,463, supposedly
Jetero's acquisition cost for the site at the northeastern
edge of Houston.
Houston annexed sufficient land to enco~pass the International
Airport. Bet .een 1960 and 1962 an annexation war ensued be-
tween iHouston and the surrounding communities. It ended in
ccamprcise leaving Houston with adequate roao for expansion
!when the Houston City Council moved to take in the entire
remainder of Harris County.
19G1 1,000 acre site 22 miles southeast of Houston on the West Ranch
was donated to N.A.S.A. for a $60 million Manned Spacecraft
Center by Rice University. By an unusual coincidence the
property had just been transferred to Rice University by the
Humble Oil Ccmpany. In 1962 with the beginning of construction
the estimated cost had risen to $125 million.
The 32-story glass and marble First City national Building
The former site of Houston's old Courthouse was redeveloped
as a park, Old Market Square, with backing from the Harris
County Heritage Society over the objections of the _layor and
his Cormnittee for urban renewal.
1932 Humble Oil Ccmpany began work on a 15,000 acre industrial-
ccs-imercial-residential complex adjacent to the -I.A.S.A. Complex.
The IU.A.S.A. Development resulted in grants in space-related
problemss totalling $373,050 for Pice University, University
oC L.ouston, and Texas A & M.
Jity of Houston opened the Wtorld 1Trade Center 12-stories of
space costing $3 million and devoted to fosting trade activity
for Ete port.
The 11-story Federal Office and Court Building Qopened in the
civic center west of dcMmt~mn. This building is characterized
as prison-like amidst expanses of glass enclosure.
Zoning was defeated for a second time in public referendum.
Stanford Research Institute produced a master plan for Houston's
Civic Center in part based on Will iIogg's 1920 plan. Construc-
tion in the range of $45 to $50 million was anticipated before
1980 on the 147 acre site west of the downtown office district.
As of 1967 buildings were completed as follows: Public Library,
City Hall, Federal Office Building, Jones Hall, the Colliseum,
the Music Hall and the Convention and ELdhibit Center.
1:62 1969 Houston intercontinental airport underwent construction
at a cost of $100 million, opening four years behind schedule.
1 3 Tle Houston channel reached an investment of $2.55 billion
employing 11% of Houston's lakor force.
The sublivisions of Clear Lake City and Nassat Bay developed
to accconiodate qro-,thl around the H.A.S.A. Corplex.
Joske's opened a store across frcm Sakowitz at Post Oak and
19--story Fannin national Dan1-- opened uptown.
Ten major office buildings increased da-owntown Houston's office
space by 41%. Among them:
44 story Hiumble Duilding $32 mi-llion; covers an
33 story Tennessee Duilding.
21 story Soutlhwest Tcer.
21 Story 500 Jefferson Building, part of Cullen Center,
a cluster of buildings adjacent to the HIumble Building
housing offices, hotels and apartments.
1964 The opening of the Sitnean Building (11-story) marked a new expan-
sion of Houston's insurance industry.
Humble made public plans for a $900 million investment over 20
years in a channel, port and industrial complex at Bayport.
2965 The American General Life Insurance Duilding was constructed
seven miles west of daomntown on Allen Parkway.
Channel facilities service gre to 101 berths 51 public; 50 private.
Service included: 6 railroads
38 trucking lines
8 barge lines
100 stearship lines
35 freight forwarders
19 stevedore firns
Between 1910 and 1965 federal government expenditure for the
channel reached $68 million. The customs revenue for 1965 mas
Ii6G As the Old Ilarket Square project neared canpletion the CharT er
of Cornerce began promotion of Allen's Landing Park on land
donated by the Southern Pacific Pailroad where lain Street
intersects Buffalo ]3ayou.
The L.A.S.A. Center resulted in the establish-ent of 125 private
offices by enterprises dealing with the center. Supposedly the
L.A.S.A. Center resulted in 65 outside jobs for each 100 created
1~CC 1967 Foley's opened two suburban stores one in the southeast
on Almeda Genoa Road; one in the northeast near IIe-stead
Highway and the North Loop.
i 67 The 20 story Houston Iatural Gas Building opened utilizing gas
as its only ipoer source.
50-story One Shell Plaza, was the tallest building west of the
Il1ssissippi in that year.
"ouston's area ex-panded to 447 square .iiles fror 72 scruare riles
survey Iy David G. IcCo:.J). inicated the concentration of finan-
cial institutions, oil related businessess and law fii-ms re-ained
in the dcaltca-m area.
1, :.;eLiiu i~archus closed its do\amtoa,'n store to open in a suburIan
location with ;aohjitz and Joskie's at Post Oa anld ".estheirer.
Im iO dgl
WHERE A NEW LOOK
BRINGS RISING HOPE
In city after city, striking of- .. 'I
fice and apartment towers, re- .
furbished older buildings are
luring people back to the cen-
tral business district.
What you see on these pages is evi-
dence that many cities are trying to end
a slide in their central business districts
that began three decades ago.
Not all the problems of downtown are
solved, by a long shot. Rising crime,
racial unease, flight of the middle class,
decaying buildings still are thwarting ig "RI .
renewal efforts in some cities and slow- "
ing them in others. Pi' 21
Still, downtown-development groups
in one city after another are taking a leaf
from the successful history of suburban
They are trying to create the same
sort of atmosphere, convenience and RICHARDTCHCH
amenities downtown that prevail in the Galveston is restoring its old shopping dis-
outskirts. In many places, this approach trict, the busiest in Texas before 1900.
is paying off.
Building anew. Typical of develop-
ments in cities of various sizes:
a Houston is pushing to completion
the first stages of the I-billion-dollar
Houston Center, a 33-block private de-
velopment in the Texas city. It has a
five-level parking and traffic platform.
On the top of the platform will be office
and apartment towers, retail centers,
hotels, restaurants, even parks.
Houston is replacing decayed areas with a
new billion-dollar office-shopping center.
Guest of Honor/Speaker
Mr. James Biddle (above),
President of the National Trust for
Historic Preservation, was the guest
of honor and speaker at the Society's
Annual Luncheon at the River Oaks
Country Club on February 28th.
The "Trust", which Mr. Biddle
represented, is the only national
private organization chartered by the
United States Congress to direct and
encourage citizens to preserve sites,
buildings and objects of historical
significance. Mr. Biddle is well
known in the field of historic
preservation and has been president
of the Trust for the past seven years.
Prior to assuming that position he
was on the staff of the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York City as
curator of the American Wing. He is
a scion of the illustrious Biddle
family of Philadelphia and a great-
great grandson of Nicholas Biddle of
Mr. Biddle's talk was entitled
"The Future of Historic
Preservation" and dealt primarily
with the subject of what has and is
being done to preserve historic
buildings and districts in various
communities across the United
States. He discussed the philosophy
of historic preservation along with
the problems faced by present day
preservationists. He spoke of the
"continuous battles to prevent
destruction" that preservationist
groups must fight if anything is to be
saved. He referred to the present
threat to our heritage as a "socio-
esthetic catastrophe," an "onslaught
of scaleless, qualityless, value-
destroying, speculative construction
that produces drab look-alikes and
disaffected citizens without pride of
place or community".
Unfortunately, Mr. Biddle was
not very complimentary concerning
most of Houston's efforts in the field
of historic preservation. Although he
did praise the work of the Heritage
Society, he was especially critical of
the fact that Houston has allowed
and is allowing so much of its past
to disappear-"Houston has failed
and is failing to preserve any real
essence of what the city was before
the present economic and population
boom". He went on to say that "the
city's only 19th century
neighborhood still basically in tact,
the Sabine area (on the north side of
Buffalo Bayou between Washington,
Memorial, Houston Avenue and
Glenwood Cemetery), has been
totally ignored or neglected. Yet this
blighted neighborhood contains
many examples of the venacular
Guests at Annual Luncheon, left to right:
Miss Ellen Beasley; Mrs. Garrett R. Tucker,
Jr.; Mrs. James L. Britton, Jr.; Mrs. Gregg
Ring; Miss Ima Hogg.
architecture that is just as important
a part of the growth and heritage of
Houston as the long-gone great
mansions along Main Street."
Mr. Biddle continued by outlining
preservation methods that have been
successfully tried in other cities. He
pointed to the work that has been
done at Ghiradelli Square in San
Francisco and at Larimer
Square in Denver. In his concluding
remarks he said that "we have come
a long way in preservation from the
Annual Luncheon speaker and guests, left to
right: Mrs. Gregg Ring; Mr. and Mrs. Stewart
Morris; Mr. James Biddle; Mrs. Ronald G.
day they saved Mount Vernon from
the resort developer. But change
keeps rolling in; and with each new
wave some footprint is washed away
forever... We need to look to our
past, to the experience of our history
and to the streets, buildings and
parks our forebearers left to us in
trust, to help us chart our way
through the morass of lost ideals,
abandoned principles and untrusted
government that we have today".
Typical late nineteenth-century houses in
Houston's Sabine Area.
One of the greatest examples in
recent years was t)je City Council
decision to destroy the old Buffalo
Hotel. No amount of reasoning or
pleading would cause City Council
to delay even for one day its
determination to bulldoze the old
structure. A parking lot is still
maintained on the site at Preston and
Smith, a monument to the
progressiveness of that particular
The same situation-now
magnified by time and the complete
refusal of the same city
administration to heed a specific
mandate of the voters-exists with
regard.to Old Market Square.
It was in 1961 that the voters, in a
Special election, overwhelmingly
rejected the City Council proposal to
sell that historic block to private
interests. The vote meant an indirect
endorsement of a proposal to
memorialize the site's historic
significance by building a
landscaped park there with
underground parking facilities.
The last city administration
declined to take action on the Old
Market Square Park because of
varying reasons-including, at one
point, "tight money"-but
proceeded to initiate plans for
Tranquility Park in the same general
To have the county government
follow the lead of the city
government in thumbing its
collective nose at those who believe
that tradition is a dear thing is a hard
lump to swallow...
Let's take a look at some of the
specific buildings which are
scheduled to meet the irresistible
shovels, hammers and wrecking balls
of the demolition crews:
The Olle Lorehn Building, the
unusual turreted structure at Main
and Congress which houses
Burgheim's Drug Store. This
building was beautifully restored
several years ago by Lorehn, who
believes that his grandfather was the
architect when it was erected in
The Old Pillot Building, at 1020
Congress at Fannin. Although not as
beautiful structurally,.. .was built
about 1870 [and possibly as early as
An added sad aspect of the
situation is that the announcement of
the destruction of these buildings
follows by only a few weeks the start
of work to bulldoze two buildings,
both erected in 1897, only a few
blocks away. These buildings, the
Martin Seed Co. Building and the
Sternenberg Building, are on Preston
between Louisiana and Smith.
The scarcity of beautiful old
buildings in Houston is amazing to
those who know of Houston's
colorful history; they find little of
that history reflected in the
architecture. Most of the buildings
dating back to the 19th Century
already have been destroyed,
replaced by what is rapidly
becoming a "concrete jungle" or the
ever-present, stark-naked, ugly
parking lots of Downtown Houston.
There is no guarantee, at this
point, that any building in the city-
including the Old Cotton Exchange
Building-cannot be condemned at
the whim of a city, county, state or
The action of the Harris County
Commissioners Court is a blow to
those in Houston who believe that
the heritage of the past is almost
sacred and who have dedicated their
time and activity to try to preserve it
for the future.
We urge the county commissioners
to reconsider their action.
County Building Decision Slaps Preservationists
Reprinted in part from Houston's BA YOU
CITY BANNER for the week of March 29 -
April 4, 1974. (Without comment!)
With stunned disbelief, many
Houstonians read the news that the
Harris County Commissioners Court
plans to destroy not just one but two
blocks in the heart of Old Downtown
Houston which contain priceless
landmarks of the city's heritage.
The county last week announced
the decision to tear down all of the
buildings in the block bounded by
Main, Fannin, Congress and Preston
for a county administration building
on Main Street; and to raze all of the
buildings across Main Street, in the
block bounded by Main, Travis,
Congress and Preston, to make way
for a parking garage.
This would eliminate a fourth of
the area now known as Old Market
Square, in the very heart of
Houston's historical birthplace.
The action of the commissioners
came after a two-hour closed
meeting in County Judge Bill
Elliott's office. The county fathers
said five sites were under
consideration and made public two
months ago, and that a private
meeting to narrow the choices was
allowed under the state open
Thankfully, Peter Rippe, director
of the Harris County Heritage
Society, already has voiced his
personal objection and hopefully his
organization will immediately jump
into the situation with every bit of
strength it can muster to fight the
move. It will take, apparently, more
than money-because the so-called
"power structure" in Houston
already is loudly applauding the
commissioners for their action. This
includes officials of the Houston
Chamber of Commerce and of the
Retail Merchants Association of
The Houston Chronicle has
backed the action editorially, so
apparently the preservationists will
find the "big city press" also
thoroughly insensitive to their views.
It is helpful to note, however, that
the Chronicle's outstanding fine arts
editor, Ann Holmes, wrote the
following, in part, in her "The
Spotlight" page in Sunday's edition,
in an article titled "The Old Town Is
Coming Down Without So Much As
A Souvenir to Say It Existed":
"... why no centrally organized
body with the particular authority to
determine what is quality relic and
what is simply 19th century
"Last week's Commissioners
Court decision to locate its $15
million administration building on
Main Street, and in the doing to
sweep away two highly valuable
19th century buildings including the
turreted Burgheim Drug Store and
the Pillot building which housed an
opera house-unplaqued of
course-is proof of the urgency.
"Had authoritative bodies
earmarked these buildings for Class
A preservation, we might not be
looking at an after the fact proposition."
Unfortunately, for too long the
political structure of Houston has
been able to manipulate the will of
the power structure--or vice versa-
and the significantly historic
structures are among the cultural
elements which have suffered.
A TALE OF TWO BUILDINGS
Compiled by Mrs. Austin Wilson
Sweeney, Coombs & Fredericks Building
1-18-1882 J. J. Sweeney and E. L. Coombs buy southeast corner Main and Congress
with 3-story brick building
By 1889 Firm of Sweeney, Coombs & Fredericks organized; building rebuilt or
remodeled by George E. Dickey with firm name in masonry across Main
4-11-1891 Building sold to Eugene Pillot
9-29-1941 Pillot heirs sell property to Hurlock Realty Company
2-9-1967 Helen Hurlock sells building to O. J. Lorehn
March, 1974 Harris County Commissioners announce selection of site for new County
June, 1974 Sweeney, Coombs & Fredericks building placed on National Regestry of
Historic Places and approved by Texas Historical Commission for a state
6-27-1974 Formal dedication of Sweeney, Coombs & Fredericks Building as state and
8-29-1974 Harris County Commissioners vote 4 to I to condemn the building
10-31-1974 Final condemnation hearing on entire block
2-14-1857 Eugene Pillot buys land and building on southwest corner of Fannin and
By 1869 Sketch of Pillot Building appears on Wood Map of the City of Houston
8-28-1944 Pillot heirs sell property to M. W. Bell
6-1-1959 Bell's widow sells building to Sam Bellesiotis
larch, 1974 Harris County Commissioners announce selection of site for new County
June, 1974 Pillot Building placed on National Registry of Historic Places and ap-
proved by Texas Historical Commission for a state medallion
6-27-1974 Formal dedication of Pillot Building as state and national landmark
8-29-1974 Harris County Commissioners vote 4 to 1 to condemn the building
0-31-1974 Final condemnation hearing on entire block
Mrs. Ann Wilson is currently Coupled with this scientific method
producing articles for the first volume is a humanistic concern for the past
of her projected series covering historic and its relics. The quest for the history
buildings within the city. The two-year of these buildings is a very personal
undertaking should be ready for the matter for Mrs. Wilson; in her
public this fall. Included in the first completed articles there is often a
volume will be the downtown area lyrical quality to the prose as she
bounded by Interstate 45, Interstate reveals her own intimate reactions to a
59, and Buffalo Bayou. The success of structure. The articles become
her search may be measured by the biographies of brick and stone that are
way in which the survey has grown; inextricably interwoven with the
her original list of entries has more people once housed within the walls. A
than doubled as every block of the good share of her research has
city's heart has been examined and focused on the personalities involved
photographed, and each subject has in the creation, modification, and
been carefully weighed for its esthetic maintenance of the structures, for
and historical value, these buildings are the shells of lives of
Very few individuals possess the former Iloustonians whose ideals,
necessary dedication lfor such a skills, and limitations they represent -
monumental task and even fewer are thus providing eloquent testimony of
as gifted as Mrs. Wilson. The quality of our heritage.
her research would make many The published work, however, will
scholars envious. Evidence has been only contain a portion of Mrs. Wilson's
drawn from the labyrinth of county research the "tip of the iceberg."
records, newspapers, published works, The book is to be simply a catalogue of
abstracts of titles, and little-known culturally worthy buildings such as that
sources such as the Sanborn lire suggested first by Ann Holmes and
insurance maps prepared in the latter later by the Texas Iistorical
part of the nineteenth century. Much Commission. Rather than containing
of her work bears the nature of recommendations for their treatment,
discovery, for much has fallen from the book will acquaint the private
the memory of Iloustonians. business sector and city planners as
Information which was once common well as the general public with a full list
knowledge is now buried in seldom- of what remains so that those
used records and often does not supply interested in judicious planning may
enough illumination to satisfy a have an accurate, dependable source-
thorough investigator. To her task of work from which to draw. To be able
discovery, therefore, Mrs. Wilson to weigh thoughtfully every factor for
must also add the talent of unraveling their difficult responsibility the
mysteries. In her process she takes bits historical element must be well
of evidence and forms a reasonable represented. l hopefully the survey will
theory or explanation what appears stimulate an enlightened approach to
to have been the most likely the adaptive re-use of these buildings,
circumstance and then tests it by for if these structures are demolished a
further exhaustive research. Where major part of louston's municipal
data proves inadequate, she indicates history will be gone .irever.
there is a judgement involved. It is that
scholarly approach that will make the
book a trustworthy addition to the
literature in Houston.
Stephen F. Shannon