First Presbyterian Church
18 January 1909: The Presbyterian Foreign Mission sent an emissary to The Republic of Texas in 1838 to found a congregation. The first church buildings were at Main and Capitol until this grand church was built at Main at McKinney in 1896. It served as one of Houston's finest church buildings until it burned in 1932. Through a long period of dislocation continuing through the disruptions of World War II, the congregation met at a number of locations in town, including The First Methodist Church, Temple Beth Israel, and the Metropolitan Theater. Finally, in 1948 the new building at 5300 Main at Oakdale was completed, opening as the first air-conditioned church in Texas.
17 July 2004: After First Presbyterian Church was demolished, Woolworths bought the lot in 1948 for over $3,000,000 and erected their Houston store. After five decades as a downtown landmark, Woolworths was demolished in 1999, and the site lay vacant until a multistory parking lot was built.
The fountains in the foreground front onto Reliant Energy Plaza at 1000 Main Street, a 36 story skyscraper completed in 2003. In the 1920's through 40's the block was the most visited spot in town as Loew's State and the lavish Egyptian-themed Metropolitan Theater drew long lines to the cinema. By 1973 the cinemas were demolished, and the site became a surface parking lot which was flooded in the winter for a skating rink, "Miracle on Main Street." Present-day Metro light rail line and pedestrian plaza create a transportation center which links to the city's underground tunnel system.
Postmarked: Houston, Tex. Jan 18 1909 5:30 AM
Stamp: 1c Blue Green Ben Franklin #300
To: Mrs. E. W. Cartwright
Message: Houston Texas
Jan 17 -09
This is the prettiest church in the city. Wish I were there today to see & visit with you instead of idling away the time here by myself. Write often and I will do the same. Love to you all.
Fred Wallace Cartwright had barely turned 22 when he wrote this rather lonesome note to his mother, Lona Loomis Cartwright. He was a tall young man of medium build with blue eyes and light hair, perhaps striking out to see if he could make his fortune in Texas. His visit to Houston was apparently brief, and he may not have been away from home very much before this trip. The Cartwright family was originally from Nantucket, MA. Fred’s grandfather Edward S. Cartwright immigrated to Summit County, OH as a young man. There he married Laura Wallace in 1843 and Fred’s father, Edward Wallace Cartwright was born in 1846 on the family farm. He grew up in Talmadge, Summit County, OH, married Emma S. Thompson (daughter of Hiram Thompson (1797-1889) and Sabrina Danforth (1806-1889) and settled in Hudson a little north in the same county. Their son, Howard Thompson Cartwright, was born there 27 September 1868, but within a year and a half his mother had died of consumption.
E. W. travelled to Chicago where he married Lona Clarinda Loomis in 1872. By 1880 the family was back in Ohio living in Columbus, Franklin County where Edward worked as a railroad ticket agent. In addition to 11 year old Howard were daughters Mabel (4) and Florence (1). Richmond, Wayne County, IN on the border with Ohio was the family's next stop on their continuing migration as the railroad drew workers westward. It was there on 2 February 1887 Fred was born. By 1900 Edward had returned to farming, moving to South Haven, Van Buren County, MI where the family lived through 1910. Nona by then had buried all five of her children except Fred. By that time Fred had moved to Chicago, working as a railroad ticket agent while staying with his half-brother Howard Cartwright, a floor walker in a Department Store, and his wife Mary Elizabeth (Mayme).
During Christmas 1911 Fred returned to his parents farm where he married Delta Pearl Beezley in South Haven. Delta was the daughter of James M. Beezley and Myrtle Michels of Watervliet, Berrien County, MI. After their marriage they returned to a suburb of Chicago, Maywood where Fred worked as a bondsman for a stock company, then an auditor for a packing house. His half-brother Howard continued his work as a floor walker for a department store. Both families were childless and remained so through the rest of their lives.
It is not certain which of the Cartwright families first moved to California, but by 1924 all three families were in Los Angeles County. Howard continued his work in department stores and Fred worked for various companies as a bookkeeper. Nona died in 1924, Edward Wallace Cartwright died in 1932, and both are buried in Mountainview Cemetery in Altadena, Los Angeles County, CA. Delta Pearl died in 1953, Fred W. in 1955, both are buried in Richmond, IN. No death record can be found for Mayme; Howard died in California in 1955.