Allen's Landing - Grombach
4-13-1906: Note also the buildings on the opposite shore. The tallest building is a brewery, and on the far right James Bute Co., a paint enterprise, center and left are more brewery buildings, including wharf side loading docks for Houston Ice and Magnolia Brewery.
3-10-2005: The graceful concrete arches of the Main Street Viaduct built in 1913 dominate the scene and the wharf is now quiet, a refuge more for the homeless living under bayou bridges than for downtown workers or tourists. The largest building at left was built in 1930 as The Merchants and Manufacturers Building, the largest building in Houston at the time. In the 1960’s it became the campus of the South Texas Junior College until 1974, now One Main Building of the University of Houston Downtown.
Postmarked: 1906-04-13 from a notation
Not posted, perhaps enclosed within a letter
To: Jean Grombach
New Orleans La.
[André Grombach, Jean’s father]
[on front, in French]
et de, Eau - Avril 13 - 1906 C’est beau - des bateaux
___________ Translation by Joelle Verstraeten___________
It’s lovely [beautiful] some boats and water April 13, 1904
Carefully choosing his words, André Grombach sent this postcard to his five year old son, Jean. As an immigrant from France and member of the New Orleans business community, André was the honorary French Consul in New Orleans and a businessman in import-export with ties in Mexico City, Tampico, France. He probably chose this postcard to show his young son a bit of how he made a living. Allen’s Landing must have seemed a poor cousin to New Orlean’s busy commercial port, but no doubt André recognized its potential.
André was born in Macon, France on 17 January 1870, and at the age of 27 married a Parisian girl of Danish and French ancestry, Marcelle Valentin. Probably in connection with business ties, André immigrated into the United States thorough San Salvador in 1898 and settled in New Orleans. His only child, Jean Valentin Grombach, was born there in 1901. André worked in the dry goods import business, primarily between France and Mexico. In 1907 he had his own company, Grombach, Faisans Co., Ltd. trading “Mexican drawn work,” including a number of postcards of New Orleans and Dallas, San Antonio, and Brownsville, TX. His small family travelled back and forth to Paris, living there 1905-1907 and 1912-1913, maintaining a dual American-French residency.
About the time his son Jean was accepted to West Point in 1919, André shifted his business interests to New York City through an affiliation with Cross Hermanos Ltd with offices at 154 Nassau Street in Manhattan near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. They traded primarily in Mexico City, Tampico, San Salvador, France and Cuba as importers of sarsaparilla, chicle, and liquid amber, and exporter of oil cloth and manufactured goods.
By 1930 Marcelle seems to have remained largely in New Orleans as her husband André and son John lived in New York City. She died in 1939 and is buried in Hebrew Rest Cemetery in New Orleans. André continued to live in New York through at least 1949 living on Nagle Street near the Cloisters, still representing the interests of Cross Hermanos Ltd. No record of his death or burial have been found.