1922: The Armory Building at right was a meeting hall for the Houston Light Guard organization, a precursor to the National Guard, built in 1893. It was sold by the Guard in 1925 and a new building was built at 3816 Caroline Street. The Houston Light Guard was organized by Confederate veterans after the Reconstruction in 1873, and was active in restoring the peace after race crises, political feuds, labor strikes, the Galveston Hurricane, a yellow fever quarantine strike, and other breakdowns of law and order.
Farther down the block was the staton for the Interurban Rail Service to Galveston. And on the right the Rice Hotel loomed over Texas Avenue.
10 June 2009: At the right is the Sterling Building, slowly demolished from the top downwards in 2015 to clear the entire block. The resulting 48 story tower, 609 Main at Texas, was developed by 91 year old Gerald D. Hines, featuring a sharply angled roof-line which evokes Hines' earlier Pennzoil Place, perhaps one of Houston's most iconic structures.
To: Miss Dorothy McLey
424 North Weber
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Postmarked: Houston 2 Texas May 12, 1922
Stamp: 1c Green George Washington #405
From: J. W. Mc.
Message: Houston Texas
May 12 - 1922
Just a line to let you know that I have not melted entirely yet. We are going to Sylvan Beach to night. They are running two special trains for us. The mosquitos about eat us up last night. Them and roaches seem to be the principle product of this part of Texas
J. W. Mc.
15,000 Firemen and Engineers descended on Houston in early May, 1922 for a convention, including Jacob Wallace McLey,a steam railroad engineer from Goodland, KS. As a railroad man, he certainly did appreciate the efforts that his Houston hosts had made to take so many to Sylvan Beach on special trains. When he mentioned mosquitos and roaches, loathsome talismans of disease, it was to highlight the unhealthy climate of the Gulf Coast in contrast with the salubrious character of Colorado.
His daughter Dorothy Axtell McLey was seventeen in 1922, the first of three children of J. W. and Clara Bell Axtell McLey, and the last to survive, but she was not in good health. Tuberculosis was the great health challenge of the early 20th century in America. Throughout the west there were sanitariums catering to the recovery of diseased patients, and no place was more highly regarded than Colorado Springs, both for its spectacular mountainous scenery and the cool, dry climate thought to be of great benefit to patients with lung conditions.
All this was well-known to the McLey family. As an engineer for the Rock Island Railroad, Jacob had worked at the railroad station in Colorado Springs. Indeed, Dorothy had been born there in 1905, so after they moved to Kansas and she sickened, they knew where to send her. Having lost two sons and another daughter to illness in 1907, 1909, and 1913, the health of their daughter dominated all of their concerns, even though it meant her abandoning high school.
For a time she did better, and returned home to Kansas, but she only sickened again. It was an easy matter to arrange a permanent transfer to Colorado, but the move came too late and Dorothy died in the early winter of 1926 at the age of 20. They brought her body back to Kansas and buried her and for 48 years mourned their childlessness. In the end they died within two weeks of each other and were buried in the family plot beside her.