13 January 1924: The Milby Hotel occupied the southeast corner of Texas and Travis from its completion in 1912 until it was demolished in 1971. The builder and sole owner was Charles Henry Milby, born in Indianola in 1852 and moved to Harrisburg in 1873. Milby was a successful entrepreneur, investing in coal, brick manufacture, real estate and banking. He died in 1925 and is buried in the oldest cemetery in Harris County, Glendale Cemetery near Brady Island where Brays Bayou joins Buffalo Bayou. Namesake Milby High School, one of the largest high schools in Texas, was built in 1926 to replace Harrisburg High School. The hotel prominently shows the external fires escapes, a legacy of the disastrous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 in which 146 mostly female garment workers lost their lives. The tragedy heightened awareness of fire safety, and local jurisdictions across the country, including Houston, mandated their use.
1. 912 Texas: Charles Meredith Kitchel (1873-1945), plumber; 2. 910 Texas: McKinnon's restaurant and saloon, William M. KcKinnon (1876-1940); 3. 908 Texas: The Milby Hotel, 6 floors, 1910; 4. 902 Texas: Beacon Shoes, a national retail store founded in 1903 with outlets across America, Herman Danielsen, Houston store manager; 5. 611 Travis / 915 Capitol: W. C. Munn Department Store (Wiley Cooper Munn, 1861-1938), 6 floors, 1913 [LINK]; 6. 701-707 Travis: Haverty Furniture Company, an atlanta based furniture company founded in Atlanta by James Joseph Haverty (1858-1939), Robert T. Macon Manager.
12 September 2014: 1. 908 Texas: The Milby Hotel was demolished in 1971, and the block bounded by Texas, Travis, Main and Capitol is now part of 20 story JPMorgan Chase Center at 601 Travis, accessory building for the 75-story JPMorgan Chase Tower across Travis Street. The Tower and its satellite building were designed by I. M. Pei and completed in 1982, the Center’s 20 floors include over 2000 parking spaces for employees and offices for various support activities for the tower, as well as retail outlets on the first level; 2. 901 Rusk: The Gulf Building Annex, 16 floors, 1946-49;
3. 801 Travis: 801 Travis, 21 Floors, 1981; 4. 820 Main: Walker at Main Garage, 12 floors, 2007; 5. 1000 Main: Reliant Energy Plaza, 36 floors, 2003; 6. 916 Dallas: Barely visible just in front of the light-colored Travis Tower is the 9 story Courtyard Marriott renovated from the old 1921 Humble Building (which was supplanted in 1963 by the 44 story headquarters building at 800 Bell); 7. 1300 Main: Travis Tower (Conoco Building), 21 floors, 1955.
Postmarked: 13 January 1924; Houston, Texas
Stamp: 1c Green George Washington #405
To: Mrs. Thos. Hilwick
Wonderful weather down here. Better have the hubby travel south.
Thomas J. Hillwick was a citizen of Lansdale, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He was owner of a blacksmith shop in Lansdale, Montgomery County PA from 1900 through at least 1910 when the occupation became outmoded as the automobile began to supplant horse traffic. Later he worked at various occupations such as Traveling drug salesman (1920) and Road Inspector (1930). His wife in 1924 was Lillie E. Springer, to whom the postcard is directed, the daughter of Mary Uebele and John Springer. The author of the card, “Edith,” reveals too little information to permit an identification, but the tone of the message suggests she is an acquaintance from Lansdale on a trip to Houston.
Lillie was born 17 February 1870, so she was 46 years old when she received the postcard from Edith. She had married Thomas Hillwick on 6 September 1899, her first marriage, and his second. His first wife was Elmira C. Barndt, daughter of Camilla and John Barndt, who was also a blacksmith. Elmira and Thomas had a son, Frank Brandt Hillwick born on 22 April 1894. Elmira died 9 May 1894 when she was only 25 and her infant son was only 17 days old. When Lillie married Thomas Hillwick, she became stepmother to little Frank, a little over five years old. Lillie and Thomas had no other children.
Thomas and Lillie remained in Lansdale, where Frank grew up as a youth apprenticed in a machine shop (1910). In 1914-1916 he served as an engineer for the New York National Guard.. Frank’s work took him to Des Moines, IA where on July 23, 1921 he married Catherine Fraser of Cedar Rapids, IA. They had one son, Donald F. Hillwick, born 22 November 1923 in Des Moines. Donald grew up in St. Charles, IL while his father traveled extensively. Frank worked in Bethlehem, PA for Bethlehem Steel (1917), Chicago, IL as a steel company salesman(1920), Minneapolis (1927-1928), back home to Lansdale, PA (1942), and finally to Hendersonville, NC.
Lillie died in Lansdale in 1939 at the age of 69 of cerebral hemorrhage after 4 years of heart and kidney illnesses. She was cremated and interred in the Mausoleum at Lansdale Cemetery. Thomas remained a widower for 8 years and died of a heart attack while visiting his son at his residence in Hendersonville, NC. His ashes are interred at Lansdale Cemetery next to Lillie. Frank B. Hillwick died 5 years later on 12 December 1952, leaving his son by his first wife, Donald F. Hillwick, and a widow, Cornelia Arsula Kibler Helsman Hillwick and 2 stepdaughters. He is buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.