Armory - Interurban Station
14 April 1914: One of the busiest blocks in all of Houston, on the left at the corner is the Armory [see other], and just adjacent, the Interurban Station Building, with shops and offices on the second floor. The gray building above the trolley car is the Milby Hotel, once a competitor for the Rice Hotel across the street.
On right, the corner red-brick four story Moore-Burnett Building at 1013-19 Texas held the offices of various professionals: oil men, physicians, real estate and insurance agents, detectives, needlework and china painting artisans, tailors and detectives. Further back at 1009-11 Smith Ed C. Furniture Store, and at the corner of Main, the Binz Building, another professional building, at one time the tallest building in town. Past Main on the next block is the Rice Hotel, rebuilt in 1912 but here the image predates the newer building.
6 February 2017: On the left, the parking garage for 609 Main at Texas, a new 48-story skyscraper. Across Main Street is the J. P. Morgan Chase Center and 75 story Chase Tower, the tallest building in Houston. Furthest of all is Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, Houston's premier venue for the Houston Symphony built in 1966.
On the right at 1015 Texas the Binz Building Garage, another multistory parking garage, followed by the Binz Building itself at 1001 Texas, completely rebuilt in 1982 as a 13-story structure. The Rice Hotel is farther down Texas Street, and at 717 Texas, 34-story Calpine Center built in 2003.
To: Mrs. V. P. Philippi
1125 E Moreland
Postmarked: April 14, 1914 Houston, Texas
Stamp: 1c Green George Washington #405
From" "Your Hubby"
Message: Houston 4/14
Will Close lease this week for store on other side X one half from Main St one of the Best Streets today 1/2 Block from Rice Hotel Next to Interurban RR Station.
Victor P. Philippi was a businessman. With barely concealed enthusiasm he reveals his plan for a Houston enterprise to his wife back home in Memphis. The block he marked on the postcard was indeed one of the busiest in town. There one could find the Interurban rail line that left every hour for Galveston, but in addition there was G. L. Reigned Typewriter supplies, C.L. Skinner tailor, McClellan & Co. China, John Stagno shoemaker, Theodore Frank fruit stand, Southern Optical Co., and James Bute Paint Company offices. The Houston Light Guard Armory with its 150 members took up the nearest corner building with the parapet, long a memorable landmark for Houstonians. Victor Philippi’s Sporting Goods store was to be in a prime location.
Victor Pompaius Philippi was born in Memphis on August 3, 1866, son of Victor P. Philippi and Henrietta Haak. He was, at the time he wrote this postcard, 48 years old, and well-experienced in the sporting goods business. He had been a Memphis gun salesman in 1900, a merchant in a sporting goods store in 1910. While in town for his business arrangements, Victor boarded at 405 Welch in a new part of town that would one day be called “The Montrose.” But his heart was in Memphis with his wife, Laura Clericus Philippi, their son, Louis Victor, and daughter Edna. The family remained behind whenever he was off on business.
The household had always included Laura’s bachelor brother, Louis Clericus, a fresco painter and lithographer. [reference Houston ‘s Lost Heritage] As a profession, fresco painters in the late 19th and early 20th century, often functioned as interior designers. Wealthy patrons who had taken the Grand Tour in Europe had seen the great frescos of antiquity, and wanted to demonstrate their good taste with original art in their homes. Frescos took great expertise to execute, were painted in place, and took some time to complete. These cultured men could establish rapport with their employers, and often consulted on other aspects of art and culture in the home [see reference below].
Louis Clericus and his sister Laura had been together since their childhood in Cincinnati. Their father died before 1870, and their mother about 1877, leaving the young adult children struggling to keep the family together. As long ago as 1880 Louis, a fresco painter even then, and Julius, a lithographer and printer, were head of household, even though Julius suffered from debilitating consumption. Laura helped her brothers as adopted sister Otilie teetered between home and orphanage.
Victor J. Philippi was born in Cass County, IL northeast of Springfield, son of Pompaius Philippi and Caroline Louisa Richelman. Victor J. served in the Civil War in Company A from Cass County in the 14th Regiment of the Illinois Infantry. The regiment served in Shiloh, Metamora, Memphis, Vicksburg, and Big Shanty, GA. He moved to the Memphis area some time in the 1870’s, perhaps having seen it first in the Civil War. At the time of his death on 25 August 1884 the family lived just south of Memphis in Hernando, DeSoto County, MS. Henrietta was left with eight minor children to take care of: Victor P., Lula, Mamie, Dora, Max, Lena, Henry Julius, and Henrietta. She moved to Memphis and became the head of the family. As the eldest, Victor P. no doubt Inherited special responsibilities. Except for travel associated with work, they stayed in Memphis all of their lives.
Louis Clericus died in 18 August 1934, at age 77, and his sister Laura Clericus Philippi died September 4, 1935 at the age of 74, after a sad accident in which she fell from a high porch and fractured her hip. Two months and one day later, Victor held a pistol to his right temple and shot himself on November 5, 1935, dying almost instantly.
[Reference: Houston’s Forgotten Heritage: landscape, houses, interiors, 1824-1914, Dorothy Knox Howe Houghton [et al], Rice University Press, 1991, p. 280.]