St. Agnes Academy
8 March 1909: Saint Agnes Academy (Saint Agnes (291-304), the patron saint of girls and chastity) was opened 12 February 1906 at 3920 Fannin as a Catholic Girl’s School. It was founded by the Dominican Sisters of Houston from their Sacred Heart School at 1111 Pierce adjacent to Sacred Heart Church. The energy behind the school’s founding came from Prioress Mary Pauline Gannon (1864-1921) mother general of the order in Galveston since 1891, who started a number of catholic schools across Texas.
22 November 2019: Initially a boarding school for all grades, St. Agnes changed with the times and the growth of Houston, abandoning boarding after 1939 and changing to a 9-12 High School in 1954. The school closed the building in September 1963 and moved to a larger campus at 9000 Bellaire in Sharpstown. The building stood vacant after the school moved to the suburbs in 1963, and was later demolished. In 2001 a grand 8-story, 254 unit apartment complex was built on the site, Ventana at Midtown.
Postmarked: 8 March 1909; Houston, Tex. “D”
Stamp: 1c Blue Green #300
To: Mr. H. Pastoriza
Utah (c/o Telluride Power Co.)
Message: Mon. 9:00 a.m.
Am off with a package to be expressed to San Antonio. Will write later. Recd. your letter of the 3, yesterday.
The sender of the postcard gives only an initial, sure that the recipient would know their identity. It is tempting to speculate that “M” signifies “Mother” but without a handwriting sample for comparison, this would be an unwarranted assumption, Choosing a postcard of St. Agnes Academy may not have been random, however, as the Pastoriza family was Roman Catholic, members in good standing of Annunciation Church [See Annunciation for a view of the church on Texas Avenue].
Hugh Gerard Pastoriza was a 22 year old electrical engineer recently graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he received this postcard at what may have been his first job. He had been active at MIT, secretary of the Civics Club, president of the Texas Club, and member of the Electric Engineering Society. He had grown up in Houston with many advantages. His father was Joseph Jay Pastoriza, founder of J. J. Pastoriza Printing & Lithographing Co. with offices at 304 Main, branch offices in Dallas and San Antonio, and a grand home at 2204 Austin. The company engaged in bookbinding, printing, the production of forms, lithographing illustrations, and selling tabulating machines and typewriters as sole local agents of Smith Corona. Joseph Pastoriza married Lulu Girard on 14 January 1886, and on 13 December 1886 she gave birth to Hugh Girard Pastoriza in Houston, her only child.
Joseph Pastoriza was a driven man, starting out life as an orphan, and making good through hard work and perseverance. His father, José Pastoriza, was a merchant from Barcelona, Spain, coming to New Orleans on the Brig Adams Gray from Havana on 22 September 1851 (listed alone on the passenger manifest as “Josepf Pastorise”). José and his wife Encarnacion Grama Pastoriza brought their six-year old son, Peter Pastoriza to New Orleans, and soon the family grew with the addition of Alexander on 20 October 1855 and very shortly after, Joseph on 19 July 1856 and the tragedy of Encarnacion’s death. José brought his boys to Houston soon after, but died in 1858, leaving his sons to an uncertain future.
Joseph and Alexander were placed in the home of Elizabeth and Andrew Daly and their adult sons. Andrew (b. 1809 in New York) was the editor and publisher of The Weekly Houston Republic newspaper, Edmond (1829) a carpenter, Laurence (1832) a printer, and Augustus (1837) a clerk at the district court. Joseph was brought up in a printing family, so it is no surprise that he went into the printing business, Alexander choosing a career in warehousing groceries and notions.
Peter Pastoriza was taken by the family of Alexander McGowen, foundry owner, who apprenticed 12 year old Peter in the foundry. McGowen (1817-1893) was himself raised by foster parents, and although he had 8 children of his own, brought young Pastoriza under his care. Alexander was a prominent citizen of Houston, having come to the fledgling community in 1839 to open a tinsmith shop. He became active in politics six years later when he became a delegate to the Constitutional Convention as the Republic of Texas petitioned to be annexed by the United States. He served as Chief Justice of Harris County, Tax Assessor and later Treasurer for Harris County, Houston Alderman for several terms, and Mayor for three terms, 1858, 1867, and 1868. McGowen Street in Houston is named in his honor. Peter Pastoriza became an engineer and machinist, and worked in Mexico to establish their Railway system. He never married and died in 1890 at the age of 45; he is buried in Glenwood Cemetery.
Following in the footsteps of his brother Peter’s foster parent Alexander McGowen, Joseph Jay Pastoriza himself became mayor of Houston in 1917 after Ben Campbell declined to run. Pastoriza had been the Houston Tax Commissioner 1911-1917 and had instituted some cost-effective reforms. He was an advocate of the Single Tax Movement, sometimes called Georgism after Henry George, American economist who wrote the influential book “Progress and Poverty” in 1879. The book explored why poverty accompanies progress in economics and technology, and how to ameliorate the cycles of boom and bust that seemed to be inherent in capitalism. The underlying premises of the movement were that people should own the value of what they produce, and that value derived from the commons (land, natural resources, natural opportunities) should equally belong to all members of a society. Pastoriza believed that in America where land titles had already been granted, revolutionary policies should not be followed as some branches of Georgism advocated. Rather than nationalizing land and leasing it to private users, government should instigate taxes on unimproved land values and leave the control in private hands. The Single Tax Movement, he believed, would accumulate a more equalized wealth across the classes of society, end urban sprawl, reduce poverty and homelessness, encourage public transportation, support basic income, and integrate economic efficiency with social justice. These were high-sounding aims, but Pastoriza would not be able to carry out this program, dying in office after only a little more than three months. He was the first mayor of Houston to be of Hispanic heritage.
Hugh Pastoriza was no longer living in Houston when his father died at home on June 5, 1917, having just registered for the draft from his home at 514 West 114th Street in New York City. He is described as 6 feet tall, slender with blue eyes and brown hair, a electrical engineer for “Coffin & Burr” at 6th & Broadway. Hugh would soon join the war effort, becoming a 1st Lieutenant in the Ordnance Department on September 18, 1917 assigned to the Washington, DC. office. He was promoted to Captain on January 12th, and sailed for France on October 12; there promoted to Major 4 May 1919 and returned to the US on August 17 and discharged November 1. Within weeks he would marry Lucie Babcock on 15 December 1919, daughter of Alfred Jerome Babcock and Henrietta Birth Ripley. Lucie had been an actress entertaining the troops in England and France with the YMCA’s America’s Over There Theatre League in the fall of 1918. Her passport application of Aug 7th reports her height as 5’ 3 7/8”, quite a bit shorter than her husband’s.
Hugh settled into the life of a practicing engineer as he and Lucie had five children: Hugh Girard, Jr (1921), Ralph Babcock (1923), James Jerome (1927), and twins Peter and Dorothy (1930). They would move to the suburban Westchester County community of Bronxville, where they lived at #10 Oriole street in a prosperous neighborhood. Hugh worked for Coffin & Burr, Inc. a banking investment firm, with which he was affiliated at least 1917-1942. Lucy died 1 September 1956 in Bronxville, NY and Hugh died 22 March 1966 in Greenwich, Fairfield County, CT. Their burials have not been located.