About a year ago the Houston Endowment donated the papers of Jesse Jones to Rice and they are, of course, housed in the Woodson. (Click here for the Rice News story about the generous gift.) It took some time for the archivists to process the enormous collection and just about a week ago I finally had a chance to look closely at some of the boxes. I was drawn immediately to the photographs, which provide an immensely rich picture of the city of Houston as it evolved over several decades.
Here’s one that caught my eye and held it for several reasons, as you will surely see. It’s labeled “Texas Medical Center, 1967”:
I don’t even know how to begin speculating about the markings except to note with a smile the tract labeled “U of T 100 A.” That wasn’t the first thing I noticed, though. What jumped out at me was how much surface parking there used to be in the Med Center!
Once I calmed down I realized that the open space in the foreground is Rice. It’s interesting for two reasons. First, it’s a nice shot of the back end of the bleachers that were recently replaced at the track and soccer stadium. Even better is the tiny sliver of the entrance gate you can see towards the left of the photo. That’s one of the things that I’ve never been able to get a real handle on. At first that gate had a semicircle of hedges around it, as in this 1931 image:
Then at some point they tore out the hedges and built squared off brick gates that were pulled back from Main Street. That’s what you can just see a glimpse of in the Jones picture. I’m not sure when or why that happened, but this will eventually help me figure it out.
How different the “tree islands” in Sunset, near what later would become the entrances to Brown and Jones Colleges, looked in 1931.
The building in the 1967 Med Center photo south of Holcombe, east of Braeswood, and west of Brays Bayou had an odd history. Originally an apartment building, by May 1968 the lower four floors were the Pavilion Hospital while the upper floors were still full of apartment tenants. (I was a patient at the Pavilion that month.) It was later razed.
I’m not sure what you mean by “tree islands”? There is, of course, a long saga about Sunset. I’m pretty sure I can lay my hands on the materials.
“Tree islands” refers to the two small oblong sections of grassy esplanade in Sunset between Rice and Shadyside. The grass is quite visible in the one closest to Main. A few trees are visible in the esplanades. Harder to see near Main; easier in the one closer to the “fork in the road”. The street bulges visibly along each esplanade to accommodate it.
By 1969, these esplanades had evolved to circles, each with a large (oak?) tree squarely in the middle of the street and with a circular widening of the street at the driveways at Brown and Jones. Going around the trees impeded traffic; failing to go around the trees impaired life and property. IIRC, there was a fatal collision with a tree around 1970 or so.
The trees were removed in the ’70s if memory serves. The strange circular bulge in the street was still there the last time I gave it any thought while driving down Sunset toward Main.
I’d wondered about that circular bulge before. Thanks for the insight!
Wow, talk about reawakening old brain cells! In 1973-74, I was a grad student at Baylor College of Medicine and did a research rotation at what I recall then was “Center Pavilion Hospital,” which was indeed a research center and hospital, but I didn’t realize it was also upper floor apartments. They talked about razing it for the longest time, but it seemed to take quite a long time to happen. Thanks for the memories!
Ah that’s right… *Center* Pavilion. I’d forgotten that part of the name after the sign disappeared.
In May 1968, the doctor about to operate on me told me that the hospital occupied the first four floors and that the next 2 were undergoing conversion as they moved up the building. By 1973, perhaps the process was complete and the apartments were gone?
Aerial photo sources show it was built between 1953 and 1957 and torn down after 1989 and before 1995.
It is interesting to see the trees along Main, especially along near Cohen house, a double row, and compare them to others on the campus. Although the Live Oaks bordering the campus now look like they had been planted about the same time, this picture clearly shows that they were not. Note the trees between “South” Hall and “West” Hall. A time planted study for the campus might be interesting.
From the minutes of the UT Board of Regents, June, 1990:
U. T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: Report on Demolition of Center Pavilion Hospital and Parking Garage.–In accordance with Regental authorization dated October 1988, it was reported for the record that the demolition of the Center Pavilion Hospital and Parking Garage had been completed. The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center acquired the property in late 1988 in return for a payment of $1.5 million and the old M.D. Anderson Annex and Rehabilitation Center near the downtown Houston area. The Center Pavilion Hospital, originally constructed in 1956 as a high-rise apartment house, was remodeled in 1968 to house a hospital, laboratories, and medical offices. The facility was outdated for modern medical use and had been vacant for several years. The value of the property lies in its proximity to the U. T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and its availability for future patient care oriented construction.
Postcard from when it was Park Towers Apartments here. Scroll down. http://www.houstonarchitecture.com/haif/topic/31704-what-building-is-this-in-the-background/?page=2#comment-491125
Melissa, you must find the tangents that some of our comments go off on about these posts amusing, if not downright hilarious.
I do love a good tangent. Would it surprise you to know that sometimes I put something up hoping to get you guys to go off on one?
Sometimes? Hah. She winds up the monkeys and turns ’em loose all the time.
I love you guys.