Main at Rusk
10 November 1911: Just out of view to the left at the corner of Main and Rusk was once the home of “The Mother of Houston,” Charlotte M. Allen, wife of Augustus Chapman Allen. Charlotte used her $5000 family inheritance to finance the founding of the city, and pressed to have it called Houston. They separated in 1850 and A. C. Allen moved to Mexico after being named U.S. consul In Tehuantepec. He died in 1864 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY. Charlotte remained in her house at 718 Main Street for the rest of her life. She died in 1895 and is buried in Glenwood Cemetery.
1. 714 Main: The advertisement for “Automobiles” was that of Hawkins Automobile and Gas Engine Company. The proprietor, George Wickton Hawkins, originally from Burlington, Sullivan County, NY, owned one of the first automobiles in Houston, a 1902 Oldsmobile curved dash Runabout. His shop was one of the first places where Houstonians could have their automobile engines serviced. The Hawkins family including his four daughters lived at 1111 Heights Boulevard in a house still standing today. 2. 712 Main: The Texas Building was the headquarters of The Texas Company, one of the first petroleum firms. Formerly headquartered in Beaumont, The Texas Company brought its headquarters to Houston in 1908, but soon outgrew the Texas Building on Main and relocated to a much larger building at San Jacinto at Rusk in 1915. 3. 702 Main: The crenelated tower at the corner of Main and Capitol contained the Adoue-Blaine hardware store; 4. 614 Main: Capitol Hotel, Richard Rodgers, proprietor; 5. 518-520 Main: The Rice Hotel, built in 1883, 5-stories demolished in 1911; Further up can be seen the Lumberman’s Bank, the Kiam Building, and the Commercial Bank Building at Franklin Street.
6. 403 Main: The Scanlan Building, 12 stories, 1909; 7. 513 Main: The Binz Building, built by brothers-in-law Julius Joseph Settegast and Arthur F. Binz; 8. 709-711 Main: Thomas Groggin & Brothers, pianos in the former Temple Building; 9. 701-703 Main: Stowers Furniture Company, which burned to the ground a year later; 10. 717 Main: Oliver Music House, with offices in The Mason Block on upper floors.
25 June 2018: 1. 712 Main: The Gulf Building, 36 Floors, built in 1929 under the influence of Jesse Jones. It was a realization of the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen’s Art Deco design for the competition of the Chicago Tribune Tower, a second-place entry that was highly regarded by the profession. Until 1963 when the Humble Building (now the Exxon-Mobil Building) was built on the south side of downtown, it was the tallest building in Houston. 2. 708 Main: The Great Jones Building, 10 floors, filling the north portion of the block by 1921 after expansions from the initial structure in 1908, also by Jesse H. Jones; 3. 601 Travis: JP Morgan Chase Center, 20 floors mostly parking with shops on street level, 1982; 4. 909 Texas: The Rice Lofts (The Rice Hotel), 17 floors, 1912, 18th floor 1950-1951; 5. 1001 Texas: Binz Building, the initial 6 story building was demolished in 1950, rebuilt to 13 floors in 1982; 6. 609 Main: Hines North Tower (609 Main), 48 floors, 2017; 7. 705 Main: St. Germain Lofts, remodeled from S.H. Kress Five and Dime Department Store, 8 floors, 1913 after the Stowers Furniture Building burned to the ground in 1912; 8. 711 Main: Capitol Lofts, remodeled from the M. E. Foster Building (publisher of the Houston Chronicle), 10 floors 1908; 9. 723 Main: AC Hotel was renovated in 2019 from The Houston Bar Center Building (Rusk Building, Mason Block), 10 floors, 1917.
Jesse Jones eventually took the Texas Company building and extended it to encompass the Hardware store on the corner. The Capitol Hotel and the entire block up to the Rice Hotel is now replaced by J. P. Morgan Chase Center, a 20 story building with commercial properties on the first floor. Jesse Jones purchased the Rice Hotel in 1912 and demolished it to rebuild on site the 17 story building now a familiar downtown landmark.
Just across Main Street at Texas Avenue the Binz Building, Houston’s first skyscraper when it was built in 1898 with 6 stories, was replaced in 1982 by a sleek 12 story building. Between Texas Avenue and Capitol Street where the Temple Building once sat, now lies the 48 story building currently called "609 Main," a Gerald Hines interest, opened in 2017. The Stowers / Gimbels Building was demolished and replaced in 1913 by the Kress Building, now St. Germaine Lofts.
Postmarked: Houston, Tex. Nov. 10, 1911
Stamp: 1c Green George Washington #374
To: Mrs Helen A. Hobbs.
Friday A. M. Dear Mother
Haven't rec'd a word from you this week. The weather is hot here. just like Cuba. We got our uniforms and they look fine. Will be here all next week. Haven't heard the next place we will be in.
Love to all
When The Maine was blown up in Havana’s harbor on February 15th 1898, Frank was 25 years old, and like many young men his age, anxious to prove his manhood and patriotism. He was born in Maine, making the assault in Havana on the ship honoring his state of birth doubly an insult. He volunteered for service during the Spanish American War, enlisting in Marion, IN near Indianapolis for Company A, 160th Indiana Infantry, serving as a band musician and emerging from the conflict in the Caribbean a disabled serviceman. 1n 1900 he is found on the census at the National House for Disabled Soldiers in Danville, IL.
Frank Winfield Hobbs was from East Knox, Waldo County, ME, but before he was 6 years old, the family went west to Iowa then Yankton, South Dakota. Frank’s father was James Madison Hobbs (1843-1907), and hIs mother was Helen Alida Barlow (1846-1940); they were married in 1865 in East Knox, ME.
Helen was the daughter of Francis R. Barlow and Lavinia Swift, daughter of Zypha Swift and Deborah Morton. Francis was born about 1820 in Freedom, Waldo County, Maine, and volunteered for service in the Civil War, where he was a Sergeant for Company H of the 4th Maine Infantry. He died 17 July 1862 aboard the Daniel Webster enroute from Harrison Landing, VA and New York City. He is buried at Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY. His widow Lavinia was 49 years a widow, dying in 1911 at Searsmont, Maine. She is buried in Mt. Repose Cemetery in Waldo County, ME.
Helen had three children: Walter Clifford Hobbs (1867-1943), Frank Winfield Hobbs (1873-1959); and Edith Grace Hobbs (1886-1980), who married George Walter Gurney. Walter C. Hobbs and Edith Gurney had children and remained in Yankton. Frank seems to have recovered from his unspecified injuries, and returned to South Dakota soon after the war, pursuing the trade of tinner (electroplating tin to preserve metals from corrosion). In 1912 he married in Yankton at the age of 39 to Nora D. Lingle. He and Nora remained in Yankton until his death in 1950. They had no children. James Hobbs died in 1907 and Helen in 1940; Nora Hobbs (d. 1966), Walter C. Hobbs (d. 1943) and his wife Anna (1866 – 1941), George Gurney (d. 1977) and Grace Gurney (d. 1980) are all buried in Yankton City Cemetery.