Armory - Interurban Station
14 April 1914: Texas between Fannin and Main was one of the busiest blocks in all of Houston in 1914. Although postmarked in 1914, the image dates from before the old Rice Hotel was demolished in 1911 to be replaced by a 17 story state-of-the-art hotel and after the Chronicle Building replaced Shearn Methodist Church and the Milby Hotel was built in 1910. [Data below based on the 1911-1915 Houston City Directory and other sources.]
1. 1016-1020 Texas: The Armory Building [see other], three stories with a tower built in 1890, was occupied by James Bute paint store on the first level and the Houston Light Guard Armory organization meeting rooms and hall above; 2. 1010-1014 Texas: Houston offices of Frisco Lines, a railroad company connecting Texas with Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Florida [The city of Frisco, Texas was named for this railroad, whose logo is modeled after a stretched-out raccoon skin.], and upper floors with typewriter sales, china, sporting goods, a shoemaker and a tailor; 3. 1006-1008 Texas: Interurban Building with ticket office and waiting room, offices of Galveston-Houston Electric Railway and The Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation, with shops and offices on the second floor; 4. 601-3 Main: Wicks & Company ice cream parlor and soda fountain, Theodore Frank’s fruit stand, and J. N. Taub's cigar stand (The Taub family, including father Jacob N., & sons Max, Sam, and Ben, lived at 1302 Main); 5. 602 Main: The Brown Building at the southwest corner of Main and Texas contained the offices of the Western Land Corporation, as well as various other real estate agents, and on the third floor, the factory for the Hamilton Brothers Shirt Factory [James Brooke Hamilton (1863-1945), George Haywood Hamilton (1866-1925), William Edward Hamilton (1868-1942), Bernard James Hamilton (1876-1949), and Arthur Louis Hamilton (1881-1947). Also – 1: George Sterling Beach (1876-1943), professional photographer [whose work was used in another postcard in this series LINK Viaduct], 2: Hattie Belle Hunsaker DeSpain (1875-1962), public stenographer, 3: Real estate agents, 4: Sam B. Kaiser (1881-1963), artist, designer, illustrator; 6. 902-06 Texas: The Milby Hotel, 6 floors, 1910; Banner across Texas Avenue, perhaps advertising the newly constructed Majestic Theatre; 7. 801-809 Texas: The Chronicle Building, 10 floors, 1910;
8. 909 Texas: The [Old] Rice Hotel, 5 floors, 1883-1911; 9. 513-519 Main: When built in 1895 by Jacob Binz (1828-1913), the Binz Building was the tallest building in town, 6 floors, with Binz & Settegast the major tenant [Arthur Jacob Binz (1875-1955) and Julius Joseph Settegast (1875-1942)]; 10. 1009-11 Texas: Ed C Smith furniture store, Edward Clinton Smith (1870-1958), proprietor, son of Daniel Cargill Smith (1836-1915), mayor of Houston (1886-1890); 11. 1013-1019: The four-story Moore-Burnett Building held the offices of various professionals: oil men, physicians, real estate and insurance agents, detectives, needlework and china painting artisans, tailors and detectives.
6 February 2017: 1. 609 Main: Reflected in the glassy face of the 13 story parking garage for Hines Tower North (48 floors, 2014-2017) are the Rice Hotel and the Calpine Center (see below); 2. 601 Travis: JPMorgan Chase Center, 20 floors, 1982; 3. 600 Travis: JP Morgan Center (Texas Commerce), 75 floors, 1982; 4. 615 Louisiana: Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, Houston's premier venue for the Houston Symphony, 1966; 5. 615 Texas: The Alley Theatre, of the most prestigious resident performance spaces in the US, 3 floors and 2 underground levels, 1966-1968. The Alley was named for its first studio entrance, a brick corridor leading down an alley from Main Street; 6. 717 Texas: Calpine Center, 34 floors, 2003; 7. 909 Texas: Rice Hotel, 18 floors; 8. 1001 Texas: Binz Building, 13 floors, 1982 (the third by the same name on the site, the first 1895-1951, the second 1951-1981); 9. 1015 Texas: Binz Building Parking Garage [Replacing the Ed C Smith Furniture Store and the Moore-Burnett Building], 9 floors, 1991.
Postmarked: April 14, 1914 Houston, Texas
Stamp: 1c Green George Washington #405
To: Mrs. V. P. Philippi
1125 E Moreland
Message: Houston 4/14
Will Close lease this week for store on other side X one half from Main St one of the Best Streets today 1/2 Block from Rice Hotel Next to Interurban RR Station.
Victor P. Philippi was a businessman. With barely concealed enthusiasm he reveals his plan for a Houston enterprise to his wife back home in Memphis. The block he marked on the postcard was indeed one of the busiest in town. There one could find the Interurban rail line that left every hour for Galveston, but in addition there was G. L. Reigned Typewriter supplies, C.L. Skinner tailor, McClellan & Co. China, John Stagno shoemaker, Theodore Frank fruit stand, Southern Optical Co., and James Bute Paint Company offices. The Houston Light Guard Armory with its 150 members took up the nearest corner building with the parapet, long a memorable landmark for Houstonians. Victor Philippi’s Sporting Goods store was to be in a prime location.
Victor Pompaius Philippi was born in Memphis on August 3, 1866, son of Victor P. Philippi and Henrietta Haak. He was, at the time he wrote this postcard, 48 years old, and well-experienced in the sporting goods business. He had been a Memphis gun salesman in 1900, a merchant in a sporting goods store in 1910. While in town for his business arrangements, Victor boarded at 405 Welch in a new part of town that would one day be called “The Montrose.” But his heart was in Memphis with his wife, Laura Clericus Philippi, their son, Louis Victor, and daughter Edna. The family remained behind whenever he was off on business.
The household had always included Laura’s bachelor brother, Louis Clericus, a fresco painter and lithographer. [reference Houston ‘s Lost Heritage] As a profession, fresco painters in the late 19th and early 20th century, often functioned as interior designers. Wealthy patrons who had taken the Grand Tour in Europe had seen the great frescos of antiquity, and wanted to demonstrate their good taste with original art in their homes. Frescos took great expertise to execute, were painted in place, and took some time to complete. These cultured men could establish rapport with their employers, and often consulted on other aspects of art and culture in the home [see reference below].
Louis Clericus and his sister Laura had been together since their childhood in Cincinnati. Their father died before 1870, and their mother about 1877, leaving the young adult children struggling to keep the family together. As long ago as 1880 Louis, a fresco painter even then, and Julius, a lithographer and printer, were head of household, even though Julius suffered from debilitating consumption. Laura helped her brothers as adopted sister Otilie teetered between home and orphanage.
Victor J. Philippi was born in Cass County, IL northeast of Springfield, son of Pompaius Philippi and Caroline Louisa Richelman. Victor J. served in the Civil War in Company A from Cass County in the 14th Regiment of the Illinois Infantry. The regiment served in Shiloh, Metamora, Memphis, Vicksburg, and Big Shanty, GA. He moved to the Memphis area some time in the 1870’s, perhaps having seen it first in the Civil War. At the time of his death on 25 August 1884 the family lived just south of Memphis in Hernando, DeSoto County, MS. Henrietta was left with eight minor children to take care of: Victor P., Lula, Mamie, Dora, Max, Lena, Henry Julius, and Henrietta. She moved to Memphis and became the head of the family. As the eldest, Victor P. no doubt Inherited special responsibilities. Except for travel associated with work, they stayed in Memphis all of their lives.
Louis Clericus died in 18 August 1934, at age 77, and his sister Laura Clericus Philippi died September 4, 1935 at the age of 74, after a sad accident in which she fell from a high porch and fractured her hip. Two months and one day later, Victor held a pistol to his right temple and shot himself on November 5, 1935, dying almost instantly.
[Reference: Houston’s Forgotten Heritage: landscape, houses, interiors, 1824-1914, Dorothy Knox Howe Houghton [et al], Rice University Press, 1991, p. 280.]