Tidelands, Part I

There was a very minor stir last week when an old laundry cart appeared next to the west door of Anderson Hall. Several emailers alerted me to it and another clever reader actually forwarded a picture to me, for which I am grateful. It’s indeed an unexpected treat:


The Tidelands, as most of you surely know, was a motel that sat on the corner of University and Main, where the BRC is today. Every newspaper story gives different dates, but my best guess as of this moment is that the opening was scheduled for the fall of 1958 but they put things into high gear and opened in time for the the Rice-Baylor game on November 30, 1957. Built by Spaw-Glass—run by Rice alums Louis Spaw (’40) and T. Franklin Glass (’39)—and Walter P. Moore and Associates (’27), it was always closely associated with Rice, especially after football star Dick Maegle (’55) became the manager in 1958.

Grad House Tidelands 1958

I only saw the Tidelands in its last years so it came as a real surprise to learn that it was once quite a fancy place, its lounge a big draw for nightclubbers with acts such as Bob Newhart, the Smothers Brothers and–can this be true??–Willie Nelson. By the early 1980’s the glamour had worn off and the motel was acquired by Rice in the summer of 1983 as housing for grad students. This is what it was used for when I first saw it and the atmosphere was about as far from elegant as you could get. I’ll have more about this soon, but here’s a small appetizer:

Grad House front


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21 Responses to Tidelands, Part I

  1. Dan McCormack says:

    Newhart’s first album, “The Buttoned-Down Mind of Bob Newhart” was recorded at Hector’s Club in the Tidelands.

  2. Melinda Clark says:

    Not only did he record it there, that album went on to the top of the Billboard Pop Album chart and won the 1961 Grammy for Album of the Year. Also, he was named Best New Artist at the same awards. I have heard him say in a past interview that he got his start as a stand-up performer at the Tidelands.

  3. almadenmike says:

    Willie Nelson at the Tidelands? This lady (http://gibbonsstreet.com/about-smg/) says it’s true: http://sasee.com/2011/10/01/the-singer-in-the-band/ .

  4. loki_the_bubba says:

    There was also a Tides II a couple of blocks further south.

    • James Medford says:

      When my parents brought me to Rice in 1981, we stayed at the Tides II. There was a portrait of Dicky Maegle hanging behind the reception desk.

  5. Barney L. McCoy says:

    Galveston was the destination in Texas of top grade entertainment from the early 30s until illegal gambling was shut down by Will Wilson and James P. Simpson in the mid-50s. The gambling and entertainment mostly moved on to Las Vegas, but the Sunset Limited made a convenient stopover for Acts heading west . The Clubs at the Shamrock and at the Tidelands and the Cork Club downtown got a boost when the Balinese Room closed.
    Barney L. McCoy, Hanszen 67

  6. effegee says:

    Examiner.Com lists Jonathan Winters and Brother Dave Gardner in addition to Newhart. Nice article here http://www.examiner.com/article/the-tidelands-motor-inn-6500-south-main-houston written by Marie Brannon.

    • loki_the_bubba says:

      I never realized it was originally three stories. I only saw it after they added the fourth floor.

  7. Guy says:

    I may be reading you wrong, but I have never heard that Walter P. Moore started Spaw-Glass (with Spaw and Glass). He did found a structural engineering company, Walter P. Moore and Associates.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Yeah, that was a poorly written sentence. What I meant to say was there were two firms involved, Spaw-Glass and Walter P. Moore, both started by Rice grads.

  8. RobertT says:

    Mr. Moore started his firm, Walter P. Moore & Associates, in 1931 and it is still going strong. He and his son, Walter Jr., were both Rice grads and were both honored as Rice Engineer of the Year during their careers. WPMA was also the structural engineering firm for the Astrodome and Rice stadium amongst countless other important Houston landmarks.

  9. Steve Lukingbeal says:

    At least the old Tidelands laundry basket is not as embarrassing as the “Whites Only” restroom doors which several of us (and Channel 13) discovered behind the Track Stadium about 10 or 15 years ago.

    • marmer01 says:

      Strange. Wouldn’t it have been easier to paint the doors than replace them altogether? Or was the racist text embosssed in them or something?

      • Steve Lukingbeal says:

        For many years, the Track Stadium was very poorly maintained along with a lot of the surrounding area. It was almost like a Tobacco Road shotgun shack where no one would ever dispose of any motor vehicle or home appliance which would break down. They would remain permanent addtions to the grounds. The old wooden doors were either replaced or taken down for some reason. They were good wood doors, and instead of being thrown out, they were stacked up. After several decades, the outermost coats of paint peeled off (kind of like the 100 year old painted advertising signs you see in old downtown areas where the earlier signs are later exposed). To the embarrrassment of all, the black paint which read “Colored” and “White Only” became fully and clearly legible.

  10. john wolda "56 says:

    We saw Brother Dave Gardner at the Tidelands in 1960. He recorded “Kick Thy Own Self” that night. In attendance was Paul Berlin, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who was the top DJ in Houston during those years.

  11. mattnoall says:

    I remember staying at the Tidelands when we moved to Houston. Must have been sometime in 1960, I think We were moving from St Louis when my father took a position in the biochem dept at Baylor Med. It was a nice place then but I cannot comment on the alleged night club entertainment as I was a bit young for that

  12. Steve Cohen (Canyo) says:

    Drove from Galveston to see BROTHER Dave Gardner and then Jonathan Winters. Was.workin K-ILE on air back then.

  13. Matthew Noall says:

    We stayed there during the relocation process to Houston. It must have been about 1960 or so. I do not remember much other than an impression of it being a nice place. There was the original Tidelands and then the Tides II

  14. Trish says:

    Interesting! My husband was just telling me what a well known place it was in the 60s and 70s. Thanks!

  15. Pingback: “The Fabulous Tidelands Motor Inn,” no date | Rice History Corner

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