Main at Calhoun
(St Joseph Parkway)
About 1910: Houston was a thriving city of 78,000 having doubled since 1900. The intersection of Main and Calhoun [now St. Joseph Parkway] was halfway from the business center and the edge of town where the San Antonio and Aransas Pass railroad crossed Main Street [now where Main flows under the Southwest Freeway]. The tree-lined view south held the homes of most of the city's leading citizens. 1.) 1917 Main: The 7 spinster Scanlan sisters (Mary, Carrie, Kate, Charlotte, Lillian, Alberta, and Stella) lived in a fine mansion built by their Irish immigrant entrepreneur father, Thomas Howe Scanlan, former mayor of Houston 1870-1873 who died in 1906. As a tribute to his memory the wealthy sisters hired noted Chicago architect Daniel Burnham to build the Scanlan Building at Main and Preston in 1909 [see Foley Brothers for a view of the Sanlan Building]. For many decades they inhabited the house, but in 1937 the city wanted to cut down the sisters' favorite oak trees lining the street, and no amount of persuasion could thwart the project. Rather than see the old home so defaced, the sisters took the mansion down and built a new house on a family tract near Arcola. They named it Sienna Plantation after Saint Catherine of Siena, the patron saint of single women [see blog post My Life Behind Bars for details]. After the death of the last Scanlan sister in 1950, the property came under control of the Diocese of Houston-Galveston. It was taken down in 2017, and all that remains is a double row of trees along a derelict roadway [29.478697, -95.482959] stranded amid the sprawling suburban housing development of Sienna Plantation. 2.) 2016 Main: Able Levy in the opulent mansion with his unmarried siblings sister Harriet and brother Haskel as well as his married daughter Fannie and her husband Joseph Goldman. The Levy family owned Levy Brothers Dry Goods store at 309 Main. 3.) 1916 Main: Horace Baldwin Rice was the mayor of Houston 1905-1913, a great benefactor for the city. With him was his wife Mary and a niece, Charlotte M. Allen. Horace's pedigree was an imposing tribute to the founding of Houston and its early political culture. His great aunt was Charlotte Baldwin, wife of Augustus Allen, who founded Houston with his brother John Kirby Allen. His grandfather, Horace Baldwin was 7th mayor of Houston in 1844. His father's brother was William Marsh Rice, whose fortune would go to the founding of Rice University which would be open to students in 1912. And his mother's sister Julia Elizabeth Baldwin, second wife of William Marsh Rice, was the namesake of Baldwin Park at 1701 Elgin Street at Crawford. The niece living with him was the great-grand-daughter of George Allen, brother of the founding Allen Brothers. She would die of pneumonia in 1911 at the age of seventeen. 4.) 1900 Main: Benjamin Franklin Bonner was the manager of Kirby Lumber Company founded by John Henry Kirby, one of the most successful of all Houston's business enterprises. With him in his corner house was his wife Annie and daughters Garland and Annie. His boss lived in one of the few old houses still standing in the neighborhood, the Kirby Mansion at 2006 Smith.
9 Nov 2023: The passage of 113 years on the streets of Houston has produced a transformation on the cityscape at this intersection. The METRORail train has filled all but 2 lanes of the road, and what was once a bucolic tree-lined boulevard has become a mass transit hub. Midtown is now one of the most desirable neighborhoods for young professionals in the city with easy access to glassy corporate high-rise palaces of commerce.
1.) 2850 Fannin: Drewery Place, retail and apartments, 27 floors, 2019;
2.) 3300 Main: The Travis, apartment tower, 30 floors, 2020;
3.) 2727 Travis: Camden McGowen Station Apartments, 7 stories, 2018;
4.) 2310 Main: Midtown on the Rail, 7 stories;
5.) 2016 Main: Condos - In 1965 the Levy mansion was demolished and replaced by 26 story condominium tower, 2016 Main;
6.) 1900 Main: Lee P.Brown Metro Administration Building, 14 floors, office tower, customer services, 2005.