I looked into a box today that I’d never noticed before even though I probably have walked past it several time a week for the last fifteen years or so. It’s a big box, and a flat one. To my amazement it was full of maps and drawings, very old ones, that had come out of the business manager’s office many years ago. Most of these maps and drawings are of Houston and it’s environs in the early part of the 20th century, some of them wide views and others close up depictions of single neighborhoods. It’s not clear what they were for, although at least some seemed to be supporting documents for mortgage applications.

Several of them were frankly pretty exciting. Here’s one that’s well worth a look:

Spur map 1923 smaller

Two things jump out immediately. First, the map is dated 1923 and the rail spur is still intact. I didn’t know it was there so long and I still don’t know when it finally disappeared. Second, of course, is the box labeled “Fraternity Home Addition” out over by the athletic field area where University Boulevard is today. That was a piece of property that the Institute didn’t acquire right away. It had once been home to a gunpowder factory, I believe. The Fraternity Home Addition was meant to be a tiny subdivision, which I know because I also found this is the box:

Fraternity Home Addition c1923 smallest

It obviously didn’t happen, but I’m not sure what the sequence of events was. I’ll see if I can figure it out after Christmas break.

For those of you following my dental saga, my root canal is now complete! Rejoicing can begin.

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11 Responses to Maps!

  1. marmer01 says:

    This is very cool! I’ll bet your former colleague Lauren M. might be interested in this.

  2. Karl Benson says:

    Rice came close to having a major railroad on the south side of the campus. According to the January 1966 Port of Houston magazine (
    “Shortly after the organization of the H.B. & T. (Houston Belt & Terminal Railway Co., 1905), the company decided to build a complete rail belt around the city. Necessary rights-of-way were secured but it soon became apparent that most of the industrial development in Houston was going to take place on the east side of the city near the newly opened Port of Houston. The plan to circle the city was dropped and right-of-way land on the west side was sold off.”
    The right-of-way clearly shows on both these maps. Apparently the sale happened after 1923 but was planned at the time these maps were drawn. Obviously a subdivision couldn’t be built on an active right-of-way. These lots are very small – were they actually to contain frat houses?
    Note that the proposed sanitary sewer line crosses what is now Rice property. I wonder if its still there.

  3. effegee says:

    Gotta love those buried pipes! The sewer line mentioned, or parts of it if it has been “abandoned”, may well be there unless Rice dug it up. Nor is it unique. While boring under Main Street in the late ’80s to install a conduit to the Herman Professional Building Garage, our contractor “discovered” two 36″ storm lines under the west side of Main Street south of Richardson College that were no longer carried on the city’s plans. When he asked the city planning department why they weren’t show, he was informed that they were abandoned and didn’t need to be documented or avoided. Of course, at the driving end of a horizontal bore, it’s difficult to tell the difference between abandoned storms and the major natural gas distribution pipe running down the esplanade…

    During exploration of routes for optical fiber to the Graduate Apartments on Bissonnet in 1998, we were informed that an 84″ storm line ran under Sunset Blvd. but cut the sharp bend just east of the start of Rice Blvd. by passing through Rice property. That incursion on the property ended up requiring design changes to Martel College to avoid building part of it on top of the storm line.

  4. Grungy says:

    Most of the lots appear to be 50′ x 106.25′.
    Where I grew up, in Levittown, the lots are 60′ x 100′ – not that much larger.

    • Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

      There is a small neighborhood near Stanford where some lot frontages are 25 feet (substandard under current zoning, but grandfathered in). The lots look about 100 ft deep or less.

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  8. Bill Bremer says:

    An advertisement in the May 4, 1913 Houston Post for Fraternity Home Addition states, “If YOU wish to locate in an addition where college atmosphere of refinement and culture exists, Fraternity Home Addition offers all you could desire…Fraternity Home Addition is protected from north winds by oak shade trees [along Harris Gully], while unobstructed on the south from the cooling sea breezes.”

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