Suzanne Turner Associates Cultural Landscape Review Appendix to the Memorial Park Master Plan 2015 Executive Summary
Chapter 1: Introduction ................................................................................................................................ 3 Chapter 2: Origins of the Park and Its Environment and Early Development .............................................. 6 Environment ............................................................................................................................................. 7 Topography ............................................................................................................................................... 9 Hydrology .................................................................................................................................................. 9 Ecology of the Memorial Park Area ........................................................................................................ 10 Native Americans along the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast ....................................................................... 11 Early European Contact, Settlement, and Travelerâ€™s Accounts .............................................................. 20 Decline of Harrisburg and the establishment of Houston ...................................................................... 26 Changes in transportation and industry patterns................................................................................... 43 American City Planning in the Early Twentieth Century ......................................................................... 54 Camp Logan............................................................................................................................................. 65 The Hogg Family and the beginnings of Memorial Park ......................................................................... 71 The Wiess Family, Horses, and Polo ....................................................................................................... 81 Chapter 3: Existing Conditions .................................................................................................................... 85 Natural systems, features, and topography ........................................................................................... 85 Spatial Organization ................................................................................................................................ 92 Land Use................................................................................................................................................ 110 Cultural traditions ................................................................................................................................. 112 Cluster arrangements ........................................................................................................................... 112 Circulation ............................................................................................................................................. 113 Vegetation............................................................................................................................................. 114 Buildings and structures ....................................................................................................................... 115 Views and vistas .................................................................................................................................... 115 Constructed water features .................................................................................................................. 115 Small-scale features .............................................................................................................................. 116 Summary of Existing Conditions ........................................................................................................... 116 Chapter 4: Memorial Park Significance ..................................................................................................... 117 Criterion C. Properties embodying the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction possessing high artistic values, or representing a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction. ............................................................................ 119 Statement of significance ..................................................................................................................... 129 Criterion D. Properties that have yielded or are likely to yield information important to prehistory or history. .................................................................................................................................................. 129 Other ways of evaluating significance .................................................................................................. 136 Statement of significance ..................................................................................................................... 137 Chapter 5: Memorial Park Integrity .......................................................................................................... 139 Criterion C. The Picturesque/City Beautiful Landscape of Memorial Park .......................................... 139 Criterion D. Properties that have yielded or are likely to yield information important to prehistory or history. .................................................................................................................................................. 141 Chapter 6: Recommendations .................................................................................................................. 143 Mapping .................................................................................................................................................... 146 Timeline..................................................................................................................................................... 152 Bibliography .............................................................................................................................................. 166
Chapter 1: Introduction This Cultural Landscape Review is a survey of available material from books, photographs, reports, articles, newspapers, and archival collections containing information associated with Memorial Park in Houston. Even though it uses standards promulgated by the Secretary of the Interior for research purposes, it does not meet the criteria of a Cultural Landscape Report as defined by same. Additionally, information requested by Nelson, Byrd, Woltz (NBW) has guided most of the initial research emphasis in an effort to provide the Master Planning team with background material for their master planning work in Houston with TIRZ 16 and the Memorial Park Conservancy. These varied research subjects were then organized in context and synthesized into a narrative format tracing the history of the site and region within national trends in park planning and design. Site Reconnaissance and Existing Conditions STA visited Memorial Park in March of 2014 to perform a survey of existing conditions in the park. Field notes were recorded, geo-tagged photographs were taken, and aerial drone flyovers were performed to film the park as it currently exists. Decibel levels were also recorded in various portions of the park and mapped to determine where sound from surrounding areas affects park users. All of this information was shared with NBW in the spring of 2014. Landscape Preservation Historic buildings, interiors, and the artifacts that are contained within them require specialized approaches for their protection and long-term management. Landscapes, by their very nature, require a different approach. They are always in a state of flux, trees mature and die, the understory develops different layers with age, and the elements of a working landscape such as a large urban park are added, changed, or removed as societyâ€™s methods of recreation change over time. Certainly Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) never envisioned the advent and rise of active recreation that has occurred since the time of his signature designs at Central Park, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the Emerald Necklace in Boston, and so many others. Recently, the decline in interest in the sport of golf has resulted in the removal of fairways and greens from some parks, and the replacement of those areas with a new type of programming, or a return of parkland to a more natural, less maintenance-intensive form.
One way to measure and assess a landscape is through the use of standards established by the National Park Service through the United States Department of the Interior. These standards have been in use for almost forty years, and are summarized in Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and the Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes, last updated in 1993. Below are the four primary treatments that outline the basic preservation options: Preservation requires “retention of the greatest amount of historic fabric, including historic form, features, and details as they have evolved over time.” Rehabilitation “acknowledges the need to alter or add to a cultural landscape to meet continuing or new uses while retaining the landscape’s historic character.” Restoration allows for “the depiction of a landscape at a particular time in its history by preserving materials from the period of significance and removing materials from other periods.” Reconstruction establishes a framework for “recreating a vanished or non-surviving landscape with new materials, primarily for interpretive purposes.” (NPS, 1993:1). Sometimes, it is possible that a landscape of the size and complexity of Memorial Park contains areas that could fit into each of these categories. Each landscape and its history are unique. The approach depends on the original elements of the park design, the significance of the elements, and the integrity of the remaining features. Additionally, the current users of the park will drive some of the changes that occur in areas of the landscape that lend themselves to those adjustments, revisions, and updating that any living, evolving property such as a park undergo when a new master plan is developed. Archives Suzanne Turner Associates (STA) visited the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the archival division of the Houston Public Library. There, we surveyed files related to Memorial Park, the early history of Houston, plan drawings by the Kansas City landscape architectural firm of Hare & Hare for Memorial Park, and other archival materials related to Houston parks. These were shared with the master planning team of NBW, and have been used to make design decisions and in public meetings. The Hare
& Hare plan of Memorial Park is included later in this chapter in the section that discusses the Hogg family and their involvement in the origins of Memorial Park and contributions to the City of Houston. STA also visited the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas, Austin, to examine the Will Hogg papers. Will Hogg was one of the driving forces in the creation of the park and in early decisions affecting Memorial Park. He, along with his brother Mike, and most importantly his sister Ima Hogg, were guardians of the park throughout each of their lifetimes, promoting the use of the park and protecting it from inappropriate interventions. STA contacted the University of Missouri, Kansas City, the depository of Hare & Hareâ€™s archives. Archivists at the library at UM copied all materials related to Memorial Park and forwarded them to us for our review and inclusion when applicable. STA also visited the archives of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) and went through the flat and vertical files to survey documents related to the history and development of Memorial Park. Most of the flat file information dates from the last thirty years, with almost no drawings from earlier periods.
Chapter 2: Origins of the Park and Its Environment and Early Development The current master planning process is a direct result of the initial damage inflicted on Memorial Park by Hurricane Ike in 2008 and then the additional loss of already damaged tree canopy that occurred in the devastating drought that began in 2010. With the loss of thousands of trees within the park boundaries, managers of the park saw the opportunity to remake the park for the twenty-first century. A terrible loss has been turned into an opportunity to re-imagine the park for the future. In order for that future to have relevance, it is important to look back at the origins of the park – the development of Camp Logan as a training center during World War I, the Reinermann landholdings before then, the Native-American environment before that, and the geologic structures and land forms that underlie all of it. The earliest photographs of the park at the point of its purchase by the City of Houston are mostly a result of the comprehensive treatment of the land by the Federal Government for the creation of Camp Logan. In Captain W. P. Rothrock’s report on the completion of Camp Logan as a World War I training center, he notes that: Special care and attention was given to cutting of trees so that all oak trees or such trees as would give shade in summer, and protection from cold winds in winter were preserved. Special care was also taken to see that trees left standing gave a pleasing park like effect in the central area of the camp. In this desirable park like effect, as complete success was attained, as funds and conditions would permit. (Rothrock, 1) This was especially important in light of the fact that the vast majority of housing for the trainees was in the form of tents. Only the officers’ quarters and other support buildings were of wood construction. Many of the photographs and postcards from the Camp Logan era show a landscape composed of a mix of mature pine, probably Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda), and oak trees. What the City of Houston purchased beginning in the mid-1920s, through a series of deeds between the city and Varner Realty, was a very “designed” landscape, that design being the manipulation of the land to create a park-like effect, drainage systems to carry excess water away from tents and shower areas, and a tree canopy to provide shade and protection for the trainees of Camp Logan. In the age before the advent of air conditioning, this was the very best that could be achieved in a period of six months to create a complete training camp for soldiers ultimately destined for combat on the European continent.
But prior to this point, this land had been heavily manipulated by former residents, in both historic and pre-historic times.
Environment In order to better understand the park and its environment, it is helpful to gain an understanding of the physiography of the park environs in a broad sense. The part of the coastal plain which extends from the Mississippi Alluvial Plain westward and southward along Texas and Mexico is called the West Gulf Coastal Plain (Fenneman, 1938, 100). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) characterizes the Gulf Coast Plain as follows: The coastal plain of Texas is only a few hundred kilometers wide and consists of strata ranging from the Cretaceous [145.5 million to 65.5 million years ago] to the present. From east Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi this plain extends northward to the southern tip of Illinois in the Mississippi Embayment. The coastal plain of this area is more than twice the width of that found in central Texas. â€Ś Along the northern Gulf of Mexico, the coastal plain is very complicated, due largely to the presence of the Mississippi River and the wide deltaic plain formed over the last 7,000 years. (NOAA, accessed, 05/25/2014).
Figure 1: Map showing the extent of the West Gulf Coastal Plain. (http://www.csc.noaa.gov, accessed 05/25/2014).
Soils in the area are primarily a variable layer of Beaumont Formation clay and mud of low permeability overlaying an underlying layer of the Lissie Formation. At the surface, the Beaumont Formation predominates. The United States Geological Survey further defines the Beaumont Formation as follows: On McAllen-Brownsville Sheet (1976) dominantly clay and mud of low permeability. … Light-to-dark-gray and bluish-to greenish-gray clay and silt, intermixed and interbedded; contains beds and lenses of fine sand, decayed organic matter, and many buried organic-rich, oxidized soil zones that contain calcareous and ferruginous nodules. Very lt. gray to v. lt. yell-gray sediment cemented by calcium carbonate present in varied forms, veins, laminar zones, burros, root casts, nodules. Locally, small gypsum crystals present. Includes plastic and compressible clay and mud deposited in flood basins, coastal lakes, and former stream channels on a deltaic plain. Disconformably overlies Lissi Fm. Thickness 5-10 m along north edge of outcrop; thickens southward in subsurface to more than 100 m. (Http://mrdata.usus.gov/geology/state/sgmcunit.php?unit=TXQbc%3B0. Accessed 02/05/2015)
Topography The topography of the area is primarily flat, reflecting the geological substructure, and width from north to south is fairly narrow, not exceeding 100 miles in any one place. There are small clustered knolls of unknown origin and levee features along the bayous and rivers that somewhat relieve the monotony of the level land (Plummer, 1932, 792-793). Inland from the low, swampy coast lies a belt of prairie covered with tall, deep-rooted grasses. Many trees are now found in this area, but true forest cover begins to the north and east. Joe Ben Wheat, noted archaeologist of the American Southwest, worked in the Houston area in 1947 during the construction of the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs, which were federal projects designed to alleviate the frequent flooding of downtown Houston along Buffalo Bayou. Wheat comments that the area generally consisted of open prairie which provided the easy access to the coast that Native Americans utilized in their seasonal migrations (Wheat, 154). In Memorial Park, the relative flatness changes on the south portion of the site adjacent to Buffalo Bayou. There, barrancos, the Spanish term for “ravine,” incise the landscape down to the bayou edge.
Hydrology To the west of the area are the older pre-Pleistocene rivers – the Sabine, Neches, Trinity, Brazos, and Colorado. These rivers originate further inland upon the older formations of the interior and pass across the coastal plain through deep grooves. Gravel bars of these rivers furnished the Native-Americans with poor-grade flint for construction of weapons, hunting points, and tools. The younger water courses of the San Jacinto River, Buffalo Bayou, Clea, Oyster, San Bernard, and Caney Creeks are confined to the
coastal plain, sometimes forming at strong springs at the edge of its northern border along the Hockley Escarpment, which lies about 50 miles from the coast (Wheat, 154). Buffalo Bayou begins along the Waller-Harris County line, flowing south and east across part of Fort Bend County, and then on through a “relatively deep and narrow channel to the city of Houston” (Wheat, 155). Tributaries to Buffalo Bayou are Brays Bayou, White Oak Bayou, Greens Bayou, Turkey Creek, and South Mayde Creek (Wheat, 155).
Ecology of the Memorial Park Area The below quotation from Energy Metropolis provides a summation of the three ecosystems that intersect in downtown Houston: The Houston metropolitan region spans across three major natural ecosystems: the coastal plain, which continues from downtown south and southeast to the Gulf Coast; the prairie, which stretches from downtown west toward Katy; and the Piney Woods, a heavily forested region that extends north and east of downtown. Houston’s urban expansion into these three ecosystems provides the wide variety of residential options and recreational opportunities found in the region, and also explains the diversity of environmental problems that the Houston area faces. (Bates, 173-174, in Melosi and Pratt, editors) Indeed, it is possible that the landscape that would become Memorial Park initially contained segments of each of these three natural ecosystems, blending into each other in an every-changing variety of ecotones, creating a complex, rich natural landscape. The area that includes Memorial Park has recently been categorized by a multi-disciplinary team of biologists, botanists, forestry, and environmental experts as a “global biodiversity hotspot.” These are regions that are characterized as centers of endemism, but that have lost a great degree of their native vascular plant vegetative cover.” The following definition places this landscape within that context: As defined by Myers et al. (2000), a hotspot has at least 1500 endemic vascular plants and has lost 70% or more of its historic vegetation cover. … Interestingly, protecting centres of endemism captures more species than protecting centres of overall species richness, apparently because centres of endemism sample a broader range of biogeographic diversity (Orme et al., 2005; Jenkins et al., 2013: in Noss, et al., 2015, 236) The North American Coastal Plain (NACP), including South Texas falls within this definition. Although it is widely known that Native Americans used fire as a landscape management tool, fire regimes caused by
lightning have been equally important during prehistory in the maintenance of a particular landscape type. Frequent lightning-producing thunderstorms, especially during transitions between pronounced dry and wet seasons, historically ignited fires that, promoted by flammable fuels, burned through pine savannas and into surrounding vegetation across most of the lower NACP. Frequent fires maintain open space in the ground layer by removing litter, cropping dominant grasses and top-killing trees and shrubs â€Ś (Platt & Schwartz, 1990; Hoctor et al., 2006). (Noss, et al., 2015, 239) Indeed, Noss states that within the North American Coastal Plain, lightning was the primary agent of fire, and that the high degree of endemism in the historic landscape was an evolutionary response to the frequent lightning strikes and extensive natural burns that occurred, not due to anthropogenic forces (Ross, et al., 241).
Figure 2: Cloud-go-ground lightning flash density map. Note that Houston is located in one of the highest density areas on the survey. (Noss, 241).
Native Americans along the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast Into this diverse landscape the various Native American tribes that have inhabited the area found food, shelter, recreation, and sources for the subsistence method of living that they engaged in. STA performed extensive archival research on the Karankawa, the Akokisa, Tonkawa, and other Native Americans as they related to the Houston area and Memorial Park. All of these Native American tribes
used a language derived from the Atakapa. Attached is a map showing the extent of each of their ranges at contact through early history of Texas, roughly 1528 to circa 1722.
Figure 3: From Ancient Houstonians, by James L. Glass and Ray Olachia, 2010.
According to the above map, the primary Native American group in the Houston area at the point of contact was the Tonkawa. Maps like these are a very â€œwesternâ€? attempt to define territory according to political and legal parameters. It is much more likely that all of these contiguous tribes moved back and forth over the area depending on the availability of food, the power of each of their current tribal leaders, and other cultural influences. That being said, all of these groups were primarily huntergatherers who lived in temporary settlements that were easily relocated according to the seasons. Robert Ricklis, author of The Karankawa Indians of Texas: an ecological study of cultural tradition and change, and Kelly Himmel, author of The conquest of the Karankawas and Tonkawas: 1821-1859, both look at the prehistory of the Karankawas and use early travelers accounts of their initial contact and
observations with the local Native-Americans to look at these native tribes historic period. Even though it is widely known that the Karankawas were frequently in the area and moved up the bayous surrounding Houston in seasonal migrations, these two authors both support the idea that the Karankawas were only periodically in the Houston area. The Karankawa were nomadic, hunter-gatherers who spent their winters along the Texas Gulf Coast and moved inland during the summer, north of present day Houston. In wintertime, they mainly subsisted on oysters, clams, and fish, and stayed close to the Gulf of Mexico and associated bayous that provided ready access to their food supply. They lived in structures of branches covered with skins, which were then taken up and transported inland as they moved back and forth between the coast and their summer camps to the north. They usually moved inland through the connecting bayou systems in dugout canoes taking all of their supplies and the materials for their structures. Whether they actively managed the landscape surrounding Houston by the use of fire has not been established. However, it is widely known that Native-Americans throughout the North American continent did use fire to keep prairie lands and forested areas open for hunting purposes – mainly for their chief sources of food – buffalo and deer. Beginning with the University of Wisconsin geographer William Denevan, and his ground-breaking work “The Myth of the Pristine Forest,” historians, geographers, and researchers have been revisiting the widely held belief that at the time of European contact, America was a vast wilderness of dense forest and was largely uninhabited (Denevan, 369). Charles Mann’s tome, 1491: new revelations of the Americas before Columbus, explores the American landscape at the time of Columbus, and provides extensive evidence that Native-Americans were intensively managing the native landscape through the use of fire and through extensive agricultural activity, and that Native-American population numbers were much higher than previous estimates. Although there is wide disagreement as to the actual population of the Americas at contact, it ranges from 20 million on the low end to over 100 million on the high end of estimates. The collapse of the population between European contact and colonization has been primarily attributed to the introduction of European diseases such as smallpox, which decimated the Native-American peoples, as they had no immunity to these diseases new to their area. Later genetic research has shown that Native-Americans lack key DNA variants that would have helped them fight off these diseases common in Europe.
As the Karankawa were hunter/gatherers, it is likely that they managed their landscape in a similar manner as other Native Americans further inland, controlling the open prairies and high woods to maximize their potential for successful hunts. It is highly unlikely that they were producing agricultural goods because of their nomadic nature. It has been theorized that they moved away from the coast during the warmer months primarily due to the possibility of threats from hurricanes and tropical storms. One of the earliest accounts of Native American contact in the Houston area is that of Cabeza de Vaca, the survivor of a 1527 shipwreck on Galveston Island. De Vaca was living on the island at the time the Panfilo de Narvaez expedition saw smoke coming from an island/inland location and cast anchor to investigate (Kniffen, 3). While de Vaca was shipwrecked on Galveston Island, he found that bands of hunter/gatherer Native Americans came through the area depending on the availability of food and the time of year. De Vaca befriended the Native Americans who traded goods with him and also taught him subsistence methods of survival while he awaited rescue. While there are no accounts of structures that de Vaca temporarily used while awaiting rescue, there are other travelersâ€™ accounts that have been used to develop ideas about the portable structures used by Native Americans for sleep and protection from the elements in the Houston area. Below is an example of a typical familyâ€™s roundhouse, based on interviews and travelersâ€™ accounts. This form has not been verified through archaeology, as no villages or permanent remains have been located that can be studied. The Native American tribes in the Houston area did not build permanent mounds or ceremonial villages. Their political structure was much looser, lacked a hierarchical structure, and changed frequently. This roundhouse structure is the form that the Akokisa would have occupied in winter, when they sometimes added hides to protect the inhabitants from winter cold and winds. They also opened up a hole in the center of the roof as needed as a temporary chimney.
Figure 4: Roundhouse: http://www.hcp4.net/jones/akokisa.htm, accessed 10/25/2014
Their summertime structure was much more open, which allowed freer air circulation, and had raised platforms to keep them off the cold, wet ground and above insects, snakes, and other vermin that might wander through such an exposed canopy. This form was called a â€œchickeeâ€?.
Figure 5: Chickee: http://www.hcp4.net/jones/akokisa.htm, accessed 10/25/2014
A lean-to type form was used while working in the small village setting, or when they traveled to hunt. That form is shown below.
Figure 6: Lean-to: http://www.hcp4.net/jones/akokisa.htm, accessed 10/25/2014
These different portable structures were then organized in small, village settings. It is possible that their villages could have looked like the image below.
Figure 7: “Texas Beyond History.” http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/coast/patterns/index.html, accessed 10/25/2014.
The above scene is an artist’s depiction of a possible seasonal settlement at the confluence of the Guadalupe River and the Gulf of Mexico inhabited by the Karankawa. The same sort of settlement arrangement would have been the norm at the San Jacinto and Galveston Bay, and at the confluence of other rivers that empty into the Gulf of Mexico. Visible in the above artist’s rendering are chickee structures, dugout canoes, a worker repairing nets, fish drying on a pole, and people engaged in various forms of food preparation. While it is possible that the Karankawa built the same sort of settlements
further inland where middens have been located in the area of the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs, no prehistoric middens have been located in the Memorial Park footprint. The following image is from south Louisiana, but is important because instead of an artistâ€™s depiction of a probable structure, it is an actual photograph from 1881 showing a Houma structure. The Houma continue to live southwest of New Orleans along the coastal area, and this is an example of a wintertime structure. In the summer, the walls were removed and the thatched palmetto structures were open to allow breezes to flow through them.
Figure 8: Palmetto House, ca. 1881. Bayou Lacombe, Louisiana. (Kniffen, 111).
As has already been discussed above, the Native Americans in the Houston and Gulf Coastal Plain were mostly hunter/gatherers, subsisting on wild plant foods, game, and marine species from the Gulf of Mexico and adjoining bays and rivers.
Below is a list of plant items gathered by Native Americans in the region: Wild Hickory Nuts Wild Persimmons “Tuna” – or the fruits of Prickly Pear Acorns – primarily of White Oak, which did not contain as much tannin and required less leaching Groundnuts Wild Sweet Potatoes Kunti (Smilax) Arrowhead (Sagittaria) Jerusalem Artichokes Wild Morning Glory tubers Maypops (Passiflora) Plums Grapes Mulberries Dewberries Strawberries Blackberries Pawpaws Chestnuts Chinquapins Walnuts Pecans Pond-lily nuts Honey Locust Beans Palmetto (both the seed and the heart of the plant) Cane Cockspur Grass Wild Rice Wild Pea Mushroom Puffball (Kniffen, 195). Food was carried in woven baskets to a central area where women prepared the various grains and meats. “Certain chosen seeds, usually of the best fruits, were saved to be planted in places where it was thought they would grow well, thus increasing the supply and quality of even wild plants” (Kniffen, 195). So, even though the Native Americans of the area were primarily hunter/gatherers, there was an element of primitive agriculture that they adopted by promoting the best plants in the areas where they gathered and harvested.
Men were the primary hunters, and pursued a variety of species in their daily quest for meat: White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginia): The whole deer was consumed: meat, skeleton, brain, tongue, liver, and heart. The deer’s fat, marrow, brains, and sinew all had special uses. The mandible, antlers, hoofs, toes, leg bones, scapule, and ribs were carefully kept as a supply for tools and jewelry. Antlers provided projectile points, harpoons, hammers, beads, and tools for making flint items. Ribs were softened by boiling, and then bent into circles to be polished and worn as bracelets. Some ribs were notched to serve as rasps for musical instruments. The deerskins were scraped free of meat and the hair was removed. They were then soaked in a tanning solution, often of eggs or squirrel or rabbit brains. They were finally stretched and paddled dry. The process yielded a skin as soft as chamois and easily cut and sewn into a variety of clothing and other coverings. The skins could be cut into thongs for many uses, and when smoked a golden brown color over pits of smoldering bark or corncobs, they became virtually waterproof. (Kniffen, 198-199) Bear – in the Houston area the black bear predominates: Bear were hunted extensively for their hides, meat, and especially for their grease, or oil (Kniffen, 199). Bear oil was used for cooking, and the grease was used as a hair treatment to brighten the appearance of the hair. It was also mixed with different clays to make paints for face and body. Bison were used in a similar manner to deer, with the entire animal utilized for various purposes. Other animal life consumed by coastal Native Americans were muskrat, beaver, wasps, beetles, locusts, lizards, snakes, turtles, terrapins, passenger pigeons, and quail. Being so close to the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston Bay, and the bayous that feed into larger water bodies in the Houston area, aquatic life was both plentiful and an important source of protein for Native Americans. Sea Turtles – for both eggs and meat Oysters Sharks (especially valuable for their sharp teeth) Drum Croaker Speckled Trout Porpoises Redfish Flounder Mullet Rangia Clams – these are very common in midden accumulations (Kniffen, 201).
Early European Contact, Settlement, and Traveler’s Accounts The first explorers to make contact with Native Americans were the early French explorers sent to claim land for their monarch or government back in Europe. Pierre de La Salle established a colony on Garcitas Creek in 1685. La Salle was looking for the mouth of the Mississippi River, but ended up west coming into Matagorda Bay, and then traveled inland along the bayous and creeks of Texas. This area is southwest of Houston toward Corpus Christi. The colony quickly failed. At the same time that France was attempting to extend its influence over the area, Spain also sent explorers to claim new territory for the Spanish crown and establish outposts on the American continents. Most Spanish efforts in Texas revolved around the conversion of Native Americans to Christianity, as Spain had used that method in previous centuries to drive the Islam faith from the Iberian peninsula in an effort “to re-establish a homogeneous Christian faith and culture there” (http://www.texasalmanac.com/topis/history/spanish-missions-texas, accessed 02/19/2015). Most missions were accompanied by a presidio, which provided protection and which also acted as a conduit for delivery of supplies into areas where settlement had not occurred. The major missions in Texas were located around Nacogdoches, San Antonio, and along the Rio Grande River. Only one mission was remotely close to Houston. The Nuestra Señora de la Luz del Orcoquisac was established in 1756 on the Trinity River in Chambers County. This mission was plagued by illness, insects, and the remote nature of its location. The last person left this mission in 1771, and the area again reverted to open land, unsettled and mostly wild. There were some remnants of European agricultural methods taught to Native Americans still in use at the time, but the vast majority of land was unoccupied. According to noted Texas historian and author Marilyn McAdams Sibley, who studied early settlement and travel in Texas, even with the missions and presidios in existence in various parts of Texas, the state was largely uninhabited by Europeans. During the Mexican War of Independence between 1810 and 1821, there was much turmoil in the region. Native Americans and Anglo Americans, working together, overthrew the Mexican Governor of the territory, Manuel María de Salcedo, and drove most Hispanic citizens south back into what is now Mexico. In 1820, there were only 2,000 Hispanic citizens in the entire state of Texas. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Texas, accessed 02/19/2015). The legacy of the Spanish/Native American influence on Texas is widespread. The names of rivers, cities, and counties linguistically define these elements and places, as do cultural words like barbecue, canyon, 20
ranch, plaza, barrancos, and others. The broader landscape changed in dramatic ways. Large areas of prairie and grassland that had been grazed by buffalo were now grazed by livestock, including cattle, horses, and mules. These new breeds of animals, not native to the area, created different grazing patterns, and encouraged the spread of mesquite vegetation much further inland away from the coast. While the introduced cattle and horses adapted to this environment, the buffalo did not and thus began their decline in the region as they migrated further north to the grasslands and prairies to which they were accustomed (Anderson, 130). In 1821, Spain ceded control of Texas to Mexico, and the region became a province in the “newly formed nation of Mexico, leading to the period in Texas history known as Mexican Texas” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Texas, accessed 02/19/2015). This period of relative stability in the region opened the land up for settlers to begin moving into the area from the United States, seeking cheap land and increased fortunes. After 1821, as the area opened up to settlement from the east, Anglos and particularly German immigrants flooded into the area, seeking cheap land to farm and ranch. Germany during the second quarter of the nineteenth century was undergoing rapid economic change, as England’s dominance in manufacturing forced the closure of multiple industries across the European continent. Economic decline and an effort by regressive German governments to repatriate private lands from citizens back to the government led to a wave of immigration out of the country for those who saw opportunity in the newly opened territory of Texas. Houston was a key entry point within the territorial interior for German settlers coming to Texas. Later visitors remarked on the large German contingent of artisans and merchants who occupied the area. As time went on, Germans tended to self-segregate and moved to the Hill Country north of Houston into several Germanic communities – Fredericksburg, New Braunfels, Bergheim, and Boerne in what many call the “German Belt.” Several early German immigrants applied for and received large land grants from the Mexican government. Johann Friedrich Ernst applied for a land grant from Mexico in 1831 and settled on 4,000 acres in the northwest corner of Austin County (https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/png02, accessed 11/15/2014). Centering on the period of the 1840s, Prince Karl of New Braunfels established the town that bears his name. Similar German immigrants came to the Hill Country and established small settlements that still exist.
Although it is widely reputed that early Texas settler Jane Long camped on the area that is now Memorial Park in 1822, there is no clear or decisive evidence that this is true. She was in Texas and was traveling to and from various points in the state, but the connection to Memorial Park is random and vague at best. Jane Long’s diary is referenced in an archeology report related to the park. This report states that the diary is in possession of the Fort Bend Country Library Archives in Richmond, Texas. Calls to the library have not uncovered the diary, either in its original form or in a typescript which can be researched. STA has also contacted the Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin and spoken with archivists and researchers. No one seems to know where this work is housed. We have also asked archivists at the Houston Metropolitan Library and at the Texas State Archives. Everyone has the same response – one of disbelief that the diary is not listed in any repository in the state or at the National Archives in Washington, DC. There must have been one at some point but evidently it has been lost to history. It is referred to in novels, and the quotations from these novels are all that we have been able to track backwards and locate. However, Long’s claim as “The Mother of Texas” seems to be a bit of boosterism. Other immigrants gave birth to children before Jane Long had her first child within the boundaries of the territory. It is known that Burrell Frank’s wife gave birth to a child on Galveston Island at a boarding house they owned there in 1817-1818, several years before Jane Long’s first child was born in Texas (Gray, William Fairfax, 7). Meanwhile, settlers were arriving in the territory and the first settlement in Harris County was founded at Harrisburgh, which was just south of Houston on Buffalo Bayou toward Galveston and the Gulf of Mexico. Founded prior to 1825 and formally surveyed in 1826, Harrisburgh took its name from John Richardson Harris, the founder of the city. Originally from Pennsylvania, Harris brought his family to the area shortly after the opening of the territory. Other accounts of the time add a great deal to the understanding of the region and landscape of Houston from very early times. In 1824, John Austin, founder of the Austin Colony, was given a grant of land where Houston would later be located. Austin received this grant from the newly formed Mexican government. Austin advertised that the area was open for settlement, and immigrants from the Northeast United States began to arrive in the region. An early settler to the region was A. C. Reynolds, born in Connecticut, who spent most of his youth in New York City, married there, and then migrated south by boat to the Texas Territory. He first settled on 22
Galveston Island and ran a mercantile shop with a partner. He later bought land on the south side of Buffalo Bayou and set up a grist mill and lumber yard (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/frels, accessed 02/19/2015). He shipped logs downstream using the bayou as his mode of transportation. His landholding at the time was 4,428 acres. In 1835, Reynolds sold his landholdings in Houston and moved to a tract of land in Washington County. Even though he left the area very early in its settled history, the use of the bayou as a commercial corridor, utilizing the waterway as a mode of transportation to downstream areas, is an important precedent in Houston’s business development, and Reynolds was one of the earliest merchants to utilize the bayou in this way. The Weiss family purchased a portion of this land in the twentieth century as a country retreat. They donated their land to the City of Houston in the 1940s. This area later became the archery range. In 1828, J. C. Clopper travelled to Houston, entered Galveston Bay and sailed up to Buffalo Bayou. His account of the water body and the banks is illustrative of what Buffalo Bayou was like at the time: This is the most remarkable stream I have ever seen—at its junction with the San Jacinto is about 150 yds in breadth having about three fathoms water with little variation in depth as high up as Harrisburg—20 miles—the ebbing and flowing of the tide is observable about 12 miles higher the water being of navigable depth close up to each bank giving to this most enchanting little stream the appearance of an artificial canal in the design and course of which Nature has lent her masterly hand; for its meanderings and beautiful curvatures seem to have been directed by a taste far too exquisite for human attainment—most of its course is bound in by timber and flowering shrubbery which overhang its grassy banks and dip and reflect their variegated hues in its unruffled waters these impending shrubs are in places overtopped by the evergreen magnolia rising in the grandeur of its excellence to the reach of deserved pre-eminence where it unfolds its far-scented magnificence; softening to the eye of admiration the dazzling luster of its expansive bloom by agreeable blendings with the deep sea-green of its umbrageous foliage—the banks of this stream are secured from the lavings of the water by, what are here termed “cypress knees”—these are apparently exuberances of cypress roots and shoot up along the margin of the waters to the height of three and four feet and from 3 to 10 inches in diameter without leaf or branch; and so closely and regularly are they often found standing in lines as to resemble piles driven in purposely as security against the innovation of the tides. (Clopper, 51-52) While early traveler’s accounts to North and South America tended toward boosterism in many ways, other later accounts related to the Buffalo Bayou water body mostly confirm Clopper’s account of its width and appearance as he saw it in 1828.
A very important event in the history of Memorial Park’s site was the arrival of the Reinermann family into Texas in the winter of 1834 (Aulbach and Gorski, 1). Originating in Oldenburg, the family sailed into New Orleans, along with the Roeder and Kleberg families. They then embarked on the schooner Sabine, but shipwrecked off Galveston Island on December 22, 1834. They temporarily resided in Harrisburg, whereupon some of the immigrants moved further inland to the environs of the Austin Colony. On March 20, 1835, John Reinermann applied for land “on Buffalo Bayou near John Austin’s two leagues on N. side of bayou” (Austin, edited by Williams, in Aulbach and Gorski, 2). Sometime in the interim, John Reinermann, Sr., had passed away. The 1838 grant states that the land was given to “the widow and heirs of John Reinermann, deceased” (Aulbach, et. al., 80). An initial grant was processed on February 21, 1838, but it is the later survey of March 4, 1847 by Henry Trott detailing both the landholding and the corresponding land type that provides the most information. Trott’s survey describes the Reinermann Tract as “containing one league of land, twelve labors of arable, balance pasture land” (Aulbach and Gorski, 2). When calculated out, this would have been a total of 4,428 acres, split between 2,124 acres of arable land, and 2,304 acres of pasture land. League and labor measurements of land were a relic of the Spanish system of land measurement. A league was also the equivalent of a “sitio” or ranch. Various deaths and remarriages occurred over the next decade, and in 1850, Henry Reinermann’s widow Louisa, was married to Christian Ledovic Bethje (1819-1876), a farmer who continued to live and work on the tract until his death. Aulbach, Gorski, and Morin detail the centrality of the land holding to the history of Houston, and the various activities that were occurring there: The John Reinermann Survey was established in a central location in Harris County at a time when Houston was a small, but important town in the Republic of Texas. Although the land was mostly rural farm and pasture land during the nineteenth century, it did bear on its landscape the implementation of early industrial and commercial enterprises in Harris County. (Aulbach, et. al., 82) At the same time that the Reinermann family was arriving and putting down roots in Houston, major changes were on the horizon. In 1836, Sam Houston routed Santa Anna’s forces at the Battle of San Jacinto, separating Texas from Mexico, and turning the eyes of the newly independent Republic of Texas towards the east, to the expanding United States of America.
The Battle of San Jacinto - 1836 The Battle of San Jacinto occurred at the San Jacinto River near the point where Buffalo Bayou empties into Galveston Bay. This early map provides clear evidence of the open, prairie-like landscape that existed on both sides of the bayou.
Figure 9: In this map dating circa 1838, the landscape character of the area at the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and Galveston Bay is shown. The edges of the bayou and bay are lined by groves of trees, behind that is marsh land, while further away from the bay, the land is labeled as â€œopen prairie.â€? http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/da/San-jacinto-battle-map2-1500.jpg
Although this is south of Houston by several miles, it is probable that the general riparian landscape along the bayous and the areas adjacent to the bayous of the region would have had a similar character. The following account of the Battle of San Jacinto describes the landscape character where the different armies lined up their troops. The positions occupied by the two armies on the evening of the 20th, which was also the battle ground of San Jacinto, may be found on the maps of Texas, near the San Jacinto river, immediately below its confluence with the Buffalo Bayou. The Texian army encamped in a narrow open prairie, along the south bank of Buffalo Bayou. In front was a skirting of timber of some forty or fifty yards in width, terminated again by open prairie, which extended to the Mexican line, three fourths of a mile distant. The Mexican army had encamped in a line, with its right resting upon the San Jacinto, and extending 25
into a narrow skirting of wood along that stream. The space between the strip of wood along the Buffalo Bayou, in front of the Texian encampment and the Mexican line, was not entirely open prairie. At midway between, or perhaps nearest to the Mexican line, a point of timber extended from the San Jacinto, into the prairie some two hundred yards, and nearly in the same range further out from the river, was a small copse of wood, or in Texian phrase, an island of timber. (Niles and Pease, 349) With the success of Sam Houston at the San Jacinto battlefield, Texas became seen as a land of opportunity for settlers seeking their fortunes. In April, 1836, Houston’s forces routed Santa Anna’s army at San Jacinto. … “Everyone is speaking of emigration to the Far West. Either Mississippi or Texas,” wrote John Lockhead from Southside Virginia’s moribund tobacco lands. “I should prefer Texas as I feel that there is a great field for enterprise than in any country at present. … All who go there certainly run the risk of stopping a bullet, but if they escape they are handsome paid for that danger.” “You must not be surprised to see me among you, in a few months” wrote one to a Texas contact. “I shall soon have a large Cotton farm, perhaps several of them under weight in Texas.” (Baptist, 267)
Decline of Harrisburg and the establishment of Houston Shortly after the Battle of San Jacinto, the Allen Brothers – A. C. and J. K. – arrived in Texas and attempted to purchase land in Harrisburg from John Harris’s widow. Santa Anna’s army burned most of the town, so there was plentiful open space for redevelopment. Complications in the estate settlement prevented them from completing the transaction and with this news, they moved further north and inland on Buffalo Bayou to the future site of Houston. There they were able to purchase land from John Austin’s widow (later Mrs. T.F.L. Parrott) the land that would become Houston (Looscan, 2). The Allens named the new city Houston, after Sam Houston, the hero of the Battle of San Jacinto. With the purchase and a survey in hand, the Allens began to plat out streets, squares, and the capitol of Texas in their newly created city. State buildings were constructed and the city began. Central to the location of Houston was the transportation corridor provided by Buffalo Bayou. The study for the creation of the Buffalo Bayou National Heritage Area provides a succinct, yet comprehensive narrative that describes the reasons for the choice of location for Houston and its rise to financial eminence since that time. The Houston town site was located along the Buffalo Bayou, which was the only seminavigable waterway running east and west in Texas. The bayou eventually became a major economic access point into the hinterland of the Southwest and a corridor to the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. Cotton was the chief export in the last half of the 19th century. However, the 1901 oil strikes, especially those at Spindletop, revolutionized the 26
area’s economy as Texas soon surpassed Pennsylvania in oil production and refining. The disastrous 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston further strengthened Houston’s case for an inland port. Local efforts to dredge the Bayou were supplemented when federal funding was provided to create the Houston Ship Channel in 1914. Since then, the Port of Houston has become the busiest port in the United States in terms of foreign tonnage, second busiest in the United States in terms of overall tonnage, and tenth busiest in the world. … Buffalo Bayou’s complex of petrochemical plants employs over 35,000 people. Oil and gas refining along the bayou remains the foundation of Houston’s economy, providing 13% of the nation’s refining capacity. The economic growth of the Buffalo Bayou as a center for oil and petrochemical production shaped the community’s character. (NPS, 1) The Buffalo Bayou Study goes on to compare the Houston petrochemical industry to the economic production zones of Detroit and Pittsburgh – and their importance to regional character and to the country. In the next decade after creation of the city in the 1830s, travelers’ accounts of visits to the Houston area mainly discuss the landscape in the surrounding region. Ferdinand Roemer came through the area in the mid-1840s and made the following comments about the Brazos prairie west of Houston. It loomed up as an, “…endless swamp... . Large puddles of water followed one another and at several places a large section of land was under water.” Some people who had intended to settle in Texas, he reported, turned around and left the country after seeing “the sad picture” (Roemer, 69-70; in Sibley, 26). But the promise of cheap land and almost unlimited potential for advancement was too big of a draw. The new energy that came with Texas becoming a member of the union in 1845 brought a flood of energetic Americans to Houston to make their mark on the city’s history and to develop their own brand of American entrepreneurial spirit and capitalism in the burgeoning city. But without a supply of plentiful, cheap labor, the industries of the region would never have been able to meet the demand for their commodities and products. Chief among these were the enslaved and later freed African American communities of the South. John Milsaps writes about the hundreds of workers employed in the maintenance yards of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad for the Houston Daily Telegraph in 1876: “Coal smoke and coal dust, hot fires, much noise of hammers, and brawny men, characterized this place. All the helpers excepting two, a German and myself, were negroes” (McComb, 110). During the 1840s, shortly after the establishment of the town of Houston, a road was constructed between Houston and Washington-on-the-Brazos. The Washington road appears on the Jacob De Cordova Map of Texas of 1849 (Aulbach and Gorski, 5). Early travel on this road was by horseback and in 27
wagons and “followed the route between Houston and Washington that rode the subtle, but well drained ridge between White Oak Bayou and Buffalo Bayou. The Washington Road went west out of Houston, and then it turned northwest as it entered the John Reinermann Survey and passed within a half mile of the Reinermann homestead (Aulbach and Gorski, 5). The Washington Road of the nineteenth century aligns with Washington Ave. today, just slightly north of Memorial Park. After the mid 1850s when the railroad west and northwest from Houston was constructed, it bypassed the town of Washington, and therefore, the road between Houston and Washington became less important – albeit still used (Aulbach and Gorski, 5).
Figure 10: This 1856 version of the Jacob De Cordova Map of Texas clearly shows the bayous, roads, existing rail line between Houston and Richmond, and the proposed rail lines between Galveston Island, Houston, and points further north. The original was published by De Cordova in 1849, followed by revisions in 1850, 1851, 1853, 1856, 1857, 1858, 1861, and 1867. (De Cordova, 1849. Revised by Colton, 1856)
The father of landscape architecture – Frederick Law Olmsted – was another early traveler to the Houston area. As sectional tensions mounted over the issue of slavery and the vast fortunes created throughout the South, Olmsted received a contract as a journalist to write about the “western” frontier and the slave holding states. He visited Texas in 1856, touring the entire state, and published his 28
observations the following year, entitled A journey through Texas; or, a saddle-trip on the southwestern frontier: with a statistical appendix. Below is included the section of his book that details his arrival in Houston and his observations about the area: Five miles from Houston we entered a pine forest, that extends to the town. Houston. Houston, at the head of the navigation of Buffalo Bayou, has had for many years the advantage of being the point of transshipment of a great part of the merchandise that enters or leaves the State. It shows many agreeable signs of the wealth accumulated, in homelike, retired residences, its large and good hotel, its well-supplied shops, and its shaded streets. The principal thoroughfare, opening from the steamboat landing, is the busiest we saw in Texas. Near the bayou are extensive cotton-sheds, and huge exposed piles of bales. The bayou itself is hardly larger than an ordinary canal, and steamboats would be unable to turn, were it not for a deep creek opposite the levee, up which they can push their stems. There are several neat churches, a theatre (within the walls of a steam saw-mill), and a most remarkable number of showy bar-rooms and gambling saloons. Houston has the reputation of being an unhealthy residence. The country around it is low and flat, and generally covered by pines. It is settled by small farmers, many of whom are Germans, owning a few cattle, and drawing a meager subsistence from the thin soil. A large number of unfortunate emigrants, who arrive with exhausted purses, remain in the town at labor, or purchase a little patch or cabin in the vicinity. The great part of the small tradesmen and mechanics of the town are German. In the bayou bottoms near by, we noticed many magnolias, now in full glory of bloom, perfuming delicately the whole atmosphere. We sketched one which stood one hundred and ten feet high, in perfect symmetry of development, superbly dark and lustrous in foliage, and studded from top to lowest branch with hundreds of delicious white flowers. (Olmsted, 361-362) It is interesting to note that Olmsted was familiar with the European lineage of the area residents, noting that the farmers, tradesmen, and mechanics were primarily German. One wonders if he met the Reinermann family on their tract of land west of the city in his tours through the area. Olmsted also commented on the situation with the railroads. He states that the Texas legislature has recently offered to loan “$6,000 per mile to all railways in actual construction. … But one road is yet in operation, so far as I can learn, in Texas, at the end of 1856—that from Harrisburg and Houston to Richmond, on the Brazos, a distance of twenty-five miles” (Olmsted, 417). Olmsted includes a footnote that: “This road is intended to reach Austin. Two competing lines from the Gulf at Galveston, northward, 29
are in course of construction – the ‘Galveston, Houston, and Henderson,’ and the ‘Galveston and Red River’” (Olmsted, 417). As a trading center, Houston became the stopping off point for goods coming from the center of the state, with cotton as the major driving force and agricultural commodity, shipped through Houston and processed in one of the many cotton mills that sprung up in the region. A recent entry into the history of cotton comes from Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of American History at Harvard University. His tome on the international impact of cotton, Empire of Cotton, A Global History (2014), provides key information about cotton in the United States and specifically in Texas. Why did cotton become a singularly American commodity and export? Beckert surmises that a confluence of variables enabled the rise of the cotton kingdom: “What distinguished the United States from virtually every other cotton-growing area in the world was planters’ command of nearly unlimited supplies of land, labor, and capital, and their unparalleled political power” (Beckert, 105). First, with the supply of free labor in the antebellum era, and then later, with the influx of cheap labor in the cottonproducing regions, the growth of cotton became ubiquitous with the American South. In a sign of things to come, Richard Kimball, president of the Galveston, Houston, and Henderson Railroad Company toured England in 1858, and visited the manufacturing center of Manchester. He made the following prescient comments about what he saw there: As I entered your city, a sort of hum, a prolonged, continuous vibration struck my ear, as if some irresistible and mysterious force was at work. Need I say it was the noise of your spindles and your looms, and of the machinery which drives them. And I said to myself, what connection shall there be between Power in Manchester and Nature in America? What connection shall there be between the cotton fields of Texas, and the Factory, and loom, and spindle of Manchester?1 (Beckert, 81-82) Cotton culture on a large scale came to Texas much later than the rest of the South. The growth of cotton was fueled by three primary factors: 1. the availability of fertile land to the east of the Balcones Escarpment, in what is called the “Blackland Prairie”2 of Texas, 2. the construction of a network of railroad lines radiating out from Houston to interior parts of the state in order to move large quantities of raw goods through the port, 1
From J. De Cordova, The Cultivation of Cotton in Texas; The Advantages of Free Labour , A Lecture Delivered at the th Town Hall, Manchester, on Tuesday, the 28 day of September, 1858, before the Cotton Supply Association (London: J. King & Co., 1858), 70-71. 2 The Blackland Prairie is an area of Texas that is similar to the Black Belt of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, where dark, calcareous, rich soils particularly suitable to cotton production exist in a broad band through the centers of these three states.
3. and the influx of cheap labor into Texas following the Civil War, providing large landowners the human capital they needed to harness the production of the land and get vast quantities of cotton goods to market. This map shows the general location of the Balcones fault system (escarpment). To the west is higher, rockier land not suitable for cotton farming, but better suited for cattle ranching.
Figure 11: http://aapgbull.geoscienceworld.org/content/92/3/359F1.large.jpg, accessed 11/15/2014.
Figure 12: Vegetation Regions of Texas. Number 4 shows the extremely productive Blackland Prairies where cotton production was the predominant commodity from the 1870s to 1920s. http://texasprairie.org/index.php/learn/about_prairies_entry/what_are_the_ecoregions_of_texas/, accessed 12/01/2014.
The expansion of cotton agriculture in Texas certainly did not happen in a vacuum. Both national and international efforts were taking place that encouraged increases in production. Edward Atkinson, a Massachusetts cotton manufacturer, was a co-creator of the National Association of Cotton Manufacturers and Planters, â€œwhich sought to promote the expansion of cotton agriculture, primarily in Mississippi and Texasâ€? (Beckert, 350). This occurred in 1868. The group promoted two actions for increased production: the first was the continued removal of Native Americans from their ancestral 32
lands to open up more acreage for production, and the second was the expansion of the railroad network to bring cotton from the hinterlands to the coast (Houston and Galveston). Other efforts promoted by the group were the construction of levees along the Mississippi River to protect more land from seasonal flooding and movement of large numbers of inexpensive laborers into the burgeoning cotton economy. With the growth of the cotton economy, associated industries also increased in importance. Since compressed cotton took less room to ship, various compresses arose such as the Davis Compress in 1844, Houston Cotton Compress in 1860, Bayou City Compress in 1875, Peoples Compress in 1881, International Compress in 1882, and the Inman Compress in 1883.3 Several seasonal cottonseed-oil factories which produced oil, coke, meal, linters, hulls, and soap stock also operated.4 In 1910 there existed in Houston six oil mills, seven compresses, twelve cotton warehouses, and forty-seven cotton factors.5 (McComb, 111) Following the Civil War, interest in Texas increased, as Americans from the South migrated in large numbers to the Texas prairies, seeking opportunities in a new region of the country different from the plantation culture that had supported them in the past and into a state that had not been ravaged by battles and warfare. Waves of migrants arrived from South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia to take advantage of the plentiful cheap land available to arriving residents. Edward King, journalist for Scribnerâ€™s Magazine and author from Massachusetts, toured the area to investigate this wave of economic and cultural refugees who principally arrived at Galveston and then Houston. The surge in population changed the demographics and political culture of the region in remarkable ways (King, 99). King relates that there were about 20 million acres of cotton-producing lands available for settlement in Texas. King points out that at the same time that this surge of new residents were arriving in East Texas, competition for control of the flow of the cotton trade was shifting from Galveston to Houston; Houston had become a major railroad hub that connected the interior of Texas back to Houston and then on to New Orleans for transshipment of material to the East Coast and Europe, principally the cities of Liverpool, London in the United Kingdom, and Bremen and Hamburg in Germany (King, 104-105).
In McComb, 111: Telegraph and Texas Register, March 6, 1844, March 13, 1844; Weekly Telegraph, March 26, 1861; Daily Post, July 1, 1883; Houston Post, August 11, 1883. See also Ellis, â€œThe Texas Cotton Compress Industry.â€? 4 In McComb, 111: Houston Post, September 1, 1904. 5 In McComb, 111: Houston Post, September 1, 1910.
At the same time that all of this growth in cotton culture was occurring in the hinterlands of Texas, Houston merchants had begun to invest in manufacturing of cotton cloth, having the raw materials readily at hand to feed the growth of the loom business in the city (King, 110). King notes that â€œHouston is one of the most promising of Texan towns. It lies fifty miles inland from Galveston, on Buffalo Bayou, and is now the central point of a complicated and comprehensive railway systemâ€? (King, 111). King arrived in Houston in the winter of 1873 and gave the following eloquent and somewhat romanticized account of his arrival in the city. Stepping from the train, I walked beneath skies which seemed Italian. The stillness, the warmth, the delicious dreaminess, the delicate languor were most intoxicating. A faint breeze, with a hint of perfume in it, came through the lattice of my window at the hotel. The magnolias sent their welcome; the roses, the dense beds of fragrant blossoms, exhaled their greeting. Roses bloom all winter, and in the early spring and May the gardens are filled with them. The bayou which leads from Houston to Galveston, and is one of the main commercial highways between the two cities, is overhung by lofty and graceful magnolias; and in the season of their blossoming, one may sail for miles along the channel with the heavy, passionate fragrance of the queen flower drifting about him. Houston is set down upon prairie land; but there are some notable nooks and bluffs along the bayou, whose channel barely admits the passage of the great white steamer which plies to and from the coast. This bayou Houston hopes one day to widen and dredge all the way to Galveston; but its prettiness and romance will then be gone. (King, 111-112) That last line about the widening and dredging of the bayou between Houston and Galveston certainly could not have been more prescient as far as the aesthetic quality of the bayou. No one could have foreseen the dense, industrial corridor that now lines each side of the bayou between Houston and Galveston.
Figure 13. Image showing Buffalo Bayou. (King, p 122)
King also talked about the, “pineries along the bayou, there are numbers of steam saw-mills, which furnish lumber to be worked into the ‘saloons,’ hotels, and shops of the ambitious new town in the recently opened northern region” (King, 115). While cotton agriculture was increasing all over the cotton growing zones of the United States, Texas stood out for the exponential increases that occurred in the state: The most dramatic expansion of cotton agriculture, however, occurred farther to the west. In Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, the production of cotton exploded from 1,576,594 bales in 1860 to 7,283,000 bales in 1920—a factor of 4.6 in the half 35
century after the U.S. Civil War. By far the most important expansion took place in Texas, a state whose farmers had only produced 431,463 bales of cotton in 1860, but produced ten times as many, 4,345,000 bales, in 1920. Indeed, the cotton growth of 1920 in Texas alone equaled about 80 percent of that of the entire South in 1860. (Beckert, 352-353) Much of the cotton brought through Houston was destined for Europe and the large network of mills that used so much of the raw cotton production of the United States. After a brief period when cotton production slowed following the Civil War, cotton resumed its steady growth as the primary commodity of the Texas economy. In 1872, a flood of new Americans and some Europeans came to Texas to engage in the cotton trade, and production multiplied by leaps and bounds. “The cotton crop in 1900 was more than 3.5 million bales from 7,178,915 acres” (https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/png02. accessed 11/10/2015). To give more credence to the importance to the explosion of rail lines and traffic in Texas, Beckert provides statistics that demonstrate how this vital infrastructure investment enabled vast increases in production of cotton: In Texas, there were 711 miles of railroad in 1870, but 16,113 miles in 1919, including into the fertile lands of the blackland prairie, which the Houston and Texas Central had connected to Dallas in 1872. Once it had done so, cotton production exploded: Dallas County cultivators grew 3,834 bales of cotton in 1870 but 21,649 bales in 1880—an increase of 465 percent in only one decade. (Beckert, 353) With the movement of cotton from the Texas hinterlands into and through Houston, it was only natural that investors would look for ways to capitalize on the plentiful raw materials and open mills that transformed the agricultural commodity into a finished product that they would then be able to charge more money for. Just north of Memorial Park at Eureka Junction, investors constructed a combination sawmill, woolen mill, and cotton mill. Listed in The Texas Almanac for 1867 was the Eureka Manufacturing Company; “located about four miles from Houston adjacent to the tracks of the Houston & Texas Central” (http://www.treetexas.com/research/sawmill/?actopm=voew&cod=675, accessed 10/21/2014). The following year, The Texas Almanac reports the following entry about manufacturing mills in Texas, with special mention of Eureka and the Houston City Mills: The Texas Almanac for 1868 reported that the Bastrop Manufacturing Company, the oldest in the state, had 1,100 spindles and could supply 1,000 yards of cloth daily. The 36
Waco Manufacturing Company had 800 spindles. The Eureka Mills at Houston could produce 2,000 yards of cloth daily, but the Houston City Mills Manufacturing Company, with 2,288 spindles … was the largest in the state.” (Harris, http://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/drt02, accessed 10/21/2014) Information related to the operation of the cotton mills at Eureka and the lumber operations there is especially important in describing the character of the land just to the north of what would become Memorial Park. The following extensive entry details the effects of logging, the appearance of the landscape, and the condition of the land in 1872. The sawmill that S. S. Munger acquired along with the land for the Eureka Mills was in operation at the same time as the textile operations. The sawmill was located on the nearby prairie lands, and it produced 5,000 feet of plank per day. The lumber was shipped from the adjacent railroad depot.6 A report in the newspaper in June, 1872, however, indicated that the shipments from the Eureka sawmill had declined because “the mills had already cut the best pines from the forest.”7 Even though the forest may have been cut extensively for commercial purposes, the woodland and the adjacent prairie near Eureka were still an impressive sight. A reporter for the Houston Daily Telegraph wrote this in late April, 1872: Our locomotive drew up at Eureka Mills, five miles out, when we spent a few minutes admiring – and who can fail to admire – those superb pine forests that loom up in dark grandeur around what is really one of the loveliest spots about Houston. … The fact is the pines of Eureka are lofty as those that fling somber shadows across the gloomy bosom of the Sabine. … To the westward [where there] were feeding cattle and horses, stretched the immense prairie and which lost itself in a dark rim of low timber.8 (Aulbach, et. al., 83) The railroad junction at Eureka Mills served as an important intersection where goods shipped from the agricultural interior of Texas were unloaded, transformed through manufacturing processes, and then reshipped for sale as raw material or to clothing manufacturers. The junction was served by a tower, where railroad workers ensured that train traffic flowed smoothly and that crashes were avoided, much like air traffic controllers sit in towers and watch the movement of modern day airplanes in their viewshed and on their computer screens.
Houston City Directory, 1866. “City Items. Two hours at Eureka – Summer view of the prairie.” 8 Hornburg, David. Personal communication, May 21, 2006. 7
Figure 14: Tower 13 at Eureka Junction. (Bernstein)
Commerce in Houston depended on the â€œwhole of the transportation networkâ€? that connected Houston with the interior of Texas, Galveston on the coast, and the rest of the world (McComb, 111). Without the ship channel, railroads would not have made Houston the connecting point for so many of their lines.
Figure 15: This image from circa 1900 shows a rail yard in Houston with cotton bales awaiting shipment. (Library of Congress) http://lcweb2.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3a30000/3a30000/3a30100/3a30145r.jpg, accessed 01/31/2014.
Figure 16: 1880. “First through train from Houston, Texas, to New Orleans, Louisiana, upon the opening of Morgan’s Louisiana and Texas Railroad.” It is not entirely clear whether this photograph was taken in New Orleans or Houston, but the landscape character more closely resembles that of Houston. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress. Photographers McClure & Gormley, New Orleans, Louisiana. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3a25697/, accessed 1/28/2014.
In 1887, the network of railroads to and from Houston was greatly expanded. The O.W. Gray Company created the map below, showing the different rail lines radiating out in all directions from the center of Houston. Houston had become the trans-shipment point for the Texas cotton business. Following the Civil War, Texas became the leading cotton-producing state in the country. Several large spinning mills were constructed in Houston and vicinity to take advantage of this plentiful, raw resource.
Figure 17: By 1887, Houston is connected to the Gulf of Mexico at Galveston and the Columbia on the Brazos River, east to New Orleans, and inland to San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and various other points serving as connections and transshipment points. (O.W. Gray & Son, 1887-1888. Courtesy: Library of Congress. G4031p ct000559 http://hdl.loc.gov.loc.gmd/g4031p.ct000559m, accessed 01/30/2014).
A side business that also developed was that of cotton oil and meal. For every pound of cotton that was cleaned and carded, there was a yield of two pounds of seed. Two of the largest cottonseed mills and oil presses were south of Chaney Junction, or Junction Tower 14 on the Galveston Houston and San Antonio Railroad. This rail line went south through the city and connected with the Houston and Texas Central, which was the other large rail line serving Houston (http://www.epperts.com/1fa/BB74.htmo, accessed 09/30/2014). At the same time that cotton production was at its peak, the clearing of land for lumber (which enabled the increase in cotton acreage) was occurring with timber as a commodity in high demand in other parts of the United States. William Brady in Glimpses of Texas, Its Divisions, Resources, Development, and Prospects, noted that:
Houston situated in an intermediate position with the vast timber lands of Texas east of her parallel, and the vast expanse of country where that timber can and will be utilized west of the parallel, must become the great central depot for the lumber trade of Texas. That trade with all others will increase with the progress of our railroads, and for every ten miles further into the interior of the State that the “iron horse” finds his way, millions of feet of lumber will be required to relieve the necessities he has created. (Brady, 51; in McComb, 112). In 1899, 420,000,000 [board] feet of lumber was harvested from Texas timber lands. John Henry Kirby and Jesse H. Jones were two Houstonians who made their fortunes in the Texas timber trade during this period (McComb, 113). While the two commodities of cotton and timber were still producing large amounts of employment and wealth, a new and even more profitable commodity arrived on the scene. With the wildcat strikes at Spindletop and other locations in the Beaumont and East Texas areas, the rise of the oil economy took off with a vengeance. Memorialized in such later movies as “Giant” and other cultural venues, oil became the driving force in the Texas economy in what became known as the “Gusher Boom.” On January 10, 1901, a wildcat derrick owned by a syndicate of Texas investors including former Governor of Texas James Stephen Hogg, struck oil just outside Beaumont, Texas, in what would come to be known as Spindletop. The driller on duty at the time, Allen W. Hamill, recorded the experience through an oral history project at the University of Texas Archives: At about 700 feet or a little over in, why the drilling mud commenced to boil up through the rotary, and it got higher and higher and higher up through the top of the derrick and with such pressure, why, the drill pipe commenced to move up. It moved up and started to going out through the top of the derrick. … It didn’t last so awful long, but it died down very gradually. Well, we three boys then sneaked back down to the well after it quieted down and surveyed the situation. … I walked over and looked down the hole there. I heard—sorta heard something kinda bubbling just a little bit and looked down there and here this frothy oil was starting up. But it was just breathing like, you know, coming up and sinking back with the gas pressure. And it kept coming up and over the rotary table and each flow a little higher. Finally it got—came up with such momentum that it just shot up clear through the top of the derrick.9 (Hamill, in McComb, 113-114) Thus began the Texas oil boom that would remake the landscape of so much of Texas, and transform the economy of the state, especially Houston, as the center of exploration, refining, investment, and the resulting vast amounts of wealth that oil as a commodity would and continues to generate to this day. 9
Allen W. Hamill, “Spindletop, the Lucus Gusher,” Oral History of the Oil Industry, Tape No. 84, September 2, 1952 (The University of Texas Archives, pp. 18-19).
While the earliest oil strikes were primarily shipped in rail cars to refining facilities, soon the network of oil pipes that has become ubiquitous as a way to move oil from field, to refinery, to ships, to consumers were constructed across the landscape. The volume of drilling, discovery, and refining quickly overwhelmed the process of shipping in rail cars, so that oil pipelines became a necessity in the growth of the industry. Associated with all of this industrial expansion were the large suppliers of pipeline, machinery, and tools that grew in size as the oil industry exploded. “Hughes Tool Company, established in 1908 as Sharp-Hughes Tool Company was the result of a patent by Howard Hughes, Sr. of a roller cutter bit that dramatically improved the rotary drilling process for oil drilling rigs” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hughes_Tool_Company, accessed 12/16/2014). Hughes drilling bit was invented by a millwright by the name of Granville A. Humason, and the rights to the bit were purchased by Hughes for $150.00. He patented the idea and created an industrial supply giant that was inherited by his son, Howard Hughes, Jr. Hughes, Jr. used his wealth to found Hughes Production Company in the motion picture industry, an airline company in 1939 that would become Trans World Airlines, and Hughes Aircraft Company. Hughes Aircraft would go on to become America’s largest defense contractor and to create untold wealth for Howard Hughes, Jr. Hughes became a recluse in later life and died in 1975 (Barlett, Donald, and James B. Steele).
Changes in transportation and industry patterns Once industries associated with cotton began to decline, the city rapidly expanded into the area that had been occupied by cotton mills along the rail lines, and the neighborhoods of Montrose and Houston Heights were platted and constructed. These neighborhoods effectively lobbied to have the Chaney Junction line taken out of service and Chaney Junction was closed by October 31, 1915 (http://www.towers.txrrhistory.com/014/014.htm, accessed 09/30/2014). At that point, Eureka Junction, served by Tower 13, became the major north-south railway artery between the GH&SA rail line and the H&TC. Within two years (Dec. 24, 1917), the GH&SA had constructed a parallel rail line along the former existing line, and these are the dual tracks that currently bisect Memorial Park.
Figure 18: This map shows the different junctions, towers, and connecting lines of the railroads in the Memorial Park area.
The closing of Chaney Junction and the transfer of traffic to the tracks intersecting at Eureka Junction placed the majority of railway traffic away from residential neighborhoods and out of the core of the city as it existed at the time. Constructed in 1914, â€œthe H&TC built a 9-mile connecting line south from Tower 13 to West Junction on the Sunset Route. This provided an alternate route for trains on the Sunset Route to access downtown Houstonâ€? (http://www.towers.txrrhistory.com/013/013.htm, accessed 9/30/2014). This rail line became the major point of entry for construction materials, troops, supplies, and ammunition when the United States declared war on Germany in 1917. Spurs were quickly added to park railway cars and for a munitions drop-off in the Eureka Junction area.
Figure 19: Eureka Junction, Tower 13 showing the rail line east to Houston, the K&TY (or Katy line), and both the H&TC and GH&SA tracks running parallel south through what Camp Logan and what would become Memorial Park. (www.txrrhistory.com/013/013.htm, accessed 09/30/2014).
These spurs are north of the boundaries of Memorial Park. There has been confusion as to the various dates that the Eureka Junction track was installed, but this probably stems from the fact that the H&TC constructed a track in 1914, and the GH&SA constructed a parallel track in 1917 after the closing of Chaney Junction. With the closing of Chaney Junction, the rail line maintained yet another easement through the park. This was later settled through sales of land to adjoining residents and by an act of donation by Houston Belt and Terminal Railway to the City of Houston to provide clear title to the right-of-way through Memorial Park. Will Hogg acted as intermediary in the request to have the rail line donate the land. Below are two documents that show his involvement in the negotiations.
Figure 20: Letter from Will C. Hogg to Mr. D. P. Pace of the Houston Belt & Terminal Railway, requesting that the railway transfer by â€œquit-claimâ€? to the City of Houston those portions of railroad right-of-way in Hermann Park and Memorial Park. June 24, 1929. (The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, Will C. Hogg Papers, Miscellaneous Folder M).
Figure 21: This page in the Will Hogg papers shows the value of the donated land to the City of Houston for rightof-way transfers in Hermann and Memorial Park. Total value was $53,556.47. (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas Archives, Austin, TX, Miscellaneous Folder M).
Once these right-of-ways were legally cleared, the only remaining rail intrusion through the park remained the two lines heading south from Eureka Junction.
With continuous growth, the infrastructure needed to provide clean, potable water and for citizen transportation was always stretched to its limits. A prime example was Houston’s water supply. Originally obtained from Buffalo Bayou, water quality was a constant problem in early Houston. The city water works was sold to the public through a stock sale in 1881 and former Mayor Thomas Scanlon became the first private president of the waterworks, but the system was plagued by both quality and pressure problems from the beginning. In 1891, a major fire started at the Phoenix Lumber Mill in the Fifth Ward and then swept through twenty acres of urban property, creating one of the city’s first major conflagrations. The day of the fire, there was no water flowing to the fire hydrants. It took forty minutes before water flowed into fire hoses and then, at pressures too low to be effective (McComb, 127). In addition to the pressure problems, water quality was a constant concern of citizens. In 1886, the Houston Post reported that: A great many people think that the water furnished by the waterworks is unfit for drinking or culinary purposes, but in that they are greatly mistaken. The supply is obtained from a portion of the bayou which is pregnant with springs, and the water is free from all impurities and is pure and wholesome to drink. Of course, after heavy rains the banks of the bayou wash into the stream and the water is then discolored slightly. But even then it is good and much better at all seasons than Mississippi river water, especially at St. Louis, where the river is muddy and dirty. (McComb, Houston Post, September 19, 1886) When reading this today, you can sense the degree of “boosterism” that went into the article. Obtaining the city water supply from a portion of the bayou where there were plentiful springs only meant that the dirtier water was diluted by the flow of the springs, which would give no comfort to citizens relying on the water supply for drinking and cooking. In 1887 a large artesian reservoir was discovered in the Second Ward, which then became the city’s primary source of potable drinking water. This reservoir was not sufficient to supply all needs, so the city still relied on the connections to Buffalo Bayou for fire-fighting (McComb, 128). However, artesian wells soon sprang up all over the city, and these wells became the chief source of drinking water for Houston residents. McComb points out that, “this incited a rush to tap what later proved to be the nation’s third greatest artesian reservoir” (McComb, 128). This aquifer is the Gulf Coast Aquifer, which has been in serious decline for years. Groundwater pumping in excess of recharge rates has caused huge rates of subsidence in the Houston area. Sections of the city have fallen almost ten feet due to the large amount of subsidence that the area is experiencing (Gray, Houston Chronicle, 2013).
Because of pressure problems, the city continued to rely on water from both sources, but: “Increasing pollution of the stream through the 1890s created a difficulty. In 1893 people complained that tap water was no better than bayou water.” Even with the city aquifers, in 1901 City Hall and market burned, and water pressure was not sufficient to reach the roofs of these two structures, thus ensuring their complete loss in the fire. The struggle to provide clean, sufficient water continues to this day. In addition to the dilemma of providing safe, potable drinking water for Houstonians, the problem of too much water created a series of crises in the city. The Hogg family was intimately familiar with flooding problems along Buffalo Bayou in the 1920s and 1930s. Their own home, Bayou Bend, had flooded in 1928 and 1935. Before the construction of the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs northwest of the City of Houston, flooding had been a repetitive and devastating occurrence along Buffalo Bayou and in downtown Houston. The flood of 1935 was the final straw for Houstonians grown weary of the repeated loss of lives and damage to property. The largest flood occurred on December 6th of 1935 through December 8th, 1935. Rains fell throughout Harris County, which resulted in Buffalo Bayou reaching a flood height of “52 feet above normal” (http://www.hcfcd.org/flash/FloodHistory.html, accessed August 18, 2014). In downtown Houston, buildings were “under water up to three floors high” (ibid). To put this event into perspective, Aulbach (2012) notes that, “The gauge at Shepherd Drive registered 40,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on December 9, 1935. This flood can be compared to the flood caused by Tropical Storm Allison in June, 2001, when the guage at Shepherd Drive read a mere 14,000 cfs on June 9” (Aulbach, 12-13). This event was the impetus two years later, in 1937, for the creation of the Harris County Flood Control District by the Texas legislature. Nationally, congress passed the Flood Control Acts of August 11, 1938, which allowed for the appropriation of federal funds for the construction of the two reservoirs, acting in concert to reduce downstream flooding along Buffalo Bayou (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addicks_Reservoir, accessed 03/19/2015). The two reservoirs were completed in 1945 (Aulbach, 13). Planned as large impoundment reservoirs that reduce the amount and speed with which water flows into Buffalo Bayou, these areas have successfully protected Houston for the last 70 years, except in the case of extreme weather events like Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. Barker is the larger of the two reservoirs, covering 13,000 acres. “Protected from development and allowed to remain in a mostly natural state,” the reservoir is home to extensive wildlife within its boundaries (Aulbach, 12). 49
Figure 22: This image from the Harris County Flood Control District shows downtown Houston during the flood of 1935. To the right, you can see collapsed buildings and exposed facades as the water rushed through the downtown area. Many local bridges were destroyed and tens of thousands of homes throughout the city were flooded.
The Harris County Flood Control District has worked diligently since its creation to lessen the occurrence and severity of flooding along Buffalo Bayou and the other bayous that drain into it. After its creation, the representatives of the district successfully lobbied congress to provide funding for the creation of the two reservoirs mentioned above â€“ Addicks and Barker. Currently, the two reservoirs are going through a process of reinforcement and improvement. The work on the two is planned for completion in 2020 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barker_Reservoir, accessed 03/19/2015). While the original layout of Houston by the Allen Brothers was sufficient for horses, carriages, wagons, and mule or ox-drawn drayage, the advent of the modern era soon overwhelmed the city grid of streets and highways servicing Houston. From the 1890s to the 1920, the electric streetcar system fueled suburban growth in Houston, providing easy transport between the newly established suburbs on the outskirts of the city and the downtown area (Slootboom, 3). By the middle of the 1920s, it had become obvious that the flexibility provided by automobiles, and a burgeoning middle class would require more, wider, and better quality streets. The advent of busses also provided competition for public ridership, and as the number of busses grew, the street car lines 50
declined in a corresponding fashion (Slootboom, 4-5). One of the advantages of busses was that it was much easier to adjust schedules, establish new lines into ever further distant suburbs, and when a bus went down or required maintenance, it was a simple process to send out another bus waiting on standby to pick up riders and continue the designated route. By 1940, the Houston Electric Company ended street service, and bus and automobile transport were the remaining modes of transportation. It would be sixty-four years before streetcar service would return to Houston with a light rail service on Main Street (Slootboom, 5). With the growth of bus and automobile transport, Houston needed a new system of roads outside of the downtown area. In 1942, a new plan was produced that included three corridors where freeways were introduced: the Gulf Freeway, Memorial Parkway, and North Freeway. With Memorial Parkway, downtown was now connected to Memorial Park via a direct route that residents could take either to the new suburban enclaves on the outskirts of the city, or to the park for recreation purposes (Slootboom, 6). In 1955, “Houston’s ‘Major Thoroughfare and Freeway Plan’ became the first official plan to include the freeway system” (Slootboom, 7). This was also the point in time when the country as a whole was developing an interstate system, in order to connect the larger cities of the country and create a national grid of high speed interstate that would allow the post World War II population to travel around the country and to enable a trucking system to develop that transported goods and services quickly and with a flexibility that rail lines did not afford. At this point, the core freeway system that still exists today had been defined within Houston (Slootboom, 13). The need for a loop around Houston was first identified in 1931, when Harris County officials were proposing bypass routes to divert traffic from the city center (Slootboom, 275). These plans developed and changed over the ensuing years until the expansion of the 610 loop in 2007 (Slootboom, 276). Initial plans in 1991 called for the transfer of 3.5 acres of Memorial Park to be used for a widened version of the West Loop. These plans were vehemently opposed by an organization called “Park People,” who prevailed in their fight to prevent any use of park land for that purpose. The initial expansion plans of the West Loop were cancelled in 1992 in acceptance of the well-organized and effective opposition mounted by the citizens group (Slootboom, 292). The following early freeway plan dating to 1947 shows existing roads along with proposed freeways radiating from downtown Houston. 51
Figure 23: “The first freeway plan, 1947: The first plan was actually more of an ad-hoc collection of the freeway routes that had been approved by the Texas Transportation Commission. The plan consisted of five spokes converging on downtown Houston. … The Houston office of TxDOT developed a plan for constructing these routes in late 1947, and this map was drawn in 1949.” (Slotboom, 12).
Figure 24: Freeway and Loop Plan, March 1954. “The general alignments of the core freeways in Houston’s freeway system were finalized in late 1953 and early 1954.” (Slotboom, 14).
Figure 25: This image shows the 610 West Loop looking north with Memorial Park on the right. (Slotboom, 274).
American City Planning in the Early Twentieth Century It is useful to circle back around and look at Houston through the lens of city planning in the United States, and the efforts that various Houstonians made to shape the city for the benefit of citizens and businesses. Although Houston has no general planning authority in the same fashion as most other cities in the United States, that does not mean that there have not been a great deal of planning efforts, and also plans that have been implemented over time. The initial layout of the city itself was an exercise in planning, orienting the initial neighborhoods in proximity to Buffalo Bayou, which was the primary means of transporting goods from the interior of Texas to the Gulf of Mexico, and then to the rail lines criss-crossing the South. 54
Figure 26: This original plan of Houston is not dated, but was included as an inset in a later map from 1869. However, the original survey work was completed in 1836. The layout is oriented along Buffalo Bayou. This plan was commissioned by the Allen Brothers as an advertisement for the development of the city. Original survey work was performed between October 2 and November 19, 1836 by Moses Lapham, surveyor for Gail Borden Jr. and Thomas Henry Borden. (Original Plan of Houston map. 1869. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/p15195coll2/item/29, accessed 02/03/2014; Kirkland, 3).
The urban work of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was an important precursor for the establishment of the practice of city planning in the United States. Olmsted’s first major commission was his design for Central Park in New York City (1858), along with architect Calvert Vaux. This became the standard by which all subsequent park designs would be judged. Olmsted was obsessed with organization and planning, with the suppression of vehicular traffic in favor of pedestrians, with parkways that avoided city centers, and with the humanizing potential of landscapes during the modern era of increased urbanization and industrialization. He envisioned an urban setting that would protect the public from the “turmoil of commercial and industrial zones” (Kirkland, 46). Olmsted’s designs were 55
a reaction to the crowded conditions of New York City tenements, along with the lack of most public infrastructure that we take for granted today. Of course, this was an age when transportation was by horse-drawn vehicles, before automobiles and the ever faster pace of contemporary urban life. By the time that Houston began to grapple with issues related to planning and the pressures of urban living, Olmsted had worked in some of the largest, most-important cities in the country. His plans for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the United States Capitol Grounds, the Emerald Necklace of Boston, and others set the standard for later planners to follow. One of those was his own son, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., (“Rick,” 1870-1957). Before joining his father’s firm in 1895, Rick Olmsted studied landscape architecture at Harvard, apprenticed in the office of architect Daniel Burnham on the World’s Columbian Exposition, and worked on the 10,000-acre Biltmore estate in Asheville, NC. He and his half-brother, John Charles Olmsted, successfully assumed the firm’s leadership in 1897. (http://tclf.org/pioneer/Frederick-law-olmsted-jr, accessed 02/27/2015). Rick went on to teach, “both landscape architecture and city planning in Harvard’s emerging landscape architecture program. He was a founding member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and led the first National Conference on City Planning early in the development of the planning profession” (http://tclf.org/pioneer/Frederick-law-olmsted-jr, accessed 02/27/2015). Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.’s legacy was widespread and would eventually touch future plans for Houston’s most important parks, albeit indirectly through the teaching and mentorship of his son Rick and his own interns and protégés. Olmsted, Sr., corresponded with George Kessler, eventual designer of Houston’s Hermann Park, and helped him land his first job. Sidney J. Hare (1860-1938), founder of Hare and Hare, Memorial Park’s planner, knew and admired Kessler, having worked for him in the Kansas City engineer’s office from 1881-1886. Kessler inspired him to become a landscape designer and he subsequently opened a practice. His son S. Herbert Hare (1888-1960) received academic training at Harvard, and with the partnership of Hare & Hare, the family firm moved to the forefront of the new profession of landscape architecture. The young Hare attended Harvard’s landscape architecture program in 1908, and he, like Arthur Comey (1886-1954); who had graduated one year before Herbert’s arrival), studied under Rick Olmsted. Comey would go on to develop the first plans for a park system for Houston (Bradley). The enormous success of the Columbian Exposition was another milestone that contributed to the establishment of the planning profession; this event also ushered in what later became known as the 56
City Beautiful Movement. The combination of buildings, water features, displays of commerce and industry, and their creation by a team of architects, landscape architects, and city planners quickly became the model that most cities interested in civic engagement sought to replicate in their designs. Described by architect Daniel Burnham as “‘the greatest meeting of artists since the fifteenth century,’ the Chicago Fair went a long way towards “stimulating the practice of interprofessional collaboration” (Newton, 365). The other important result of the Fair “was the unprecedented awakening of public interest in civic design” (Newton, 367). As Houston gained momentum through its economic development, it would follow suit in a desire for civic improvements of notable stature. One of the proponents of City Beautiful planning was Arthur Comey, a Boston landscape architect who would eventually be a founding member of the American City Planning Institute in 1917 (http://web.mit.edu/ebj/www/ww1/Biography=Comey.html, accessed 02/25/2014). Though removed by time and place from Houston’s Memorial Park, these national developments would come into play as the young Southern city began its foray into civic advancement after World War I. Arthur Comey report to the Houston Park Commission - 1913 In 1910 during the third term of progressive reformer Mayor H. Baldwin Rice, he formed a Board of Park Commissioners. In 1912, this commission retained Arthur Coleman Comey, a Harvard-educated landscape architect, taught by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., to come to the city and “analyze local conditions and make recommendations for the sort of park and parkway system which ought to be developed” (Fox, Cite Spring 1983, (offcite.org/wpcontent/uploads/sites/3/2010/BigParkLittlePlans_Fox_Cite3.pdf, accessed 2/24/15). According to Houston historian Stephen Fox, the Comey report of 1913, entitled “Houston: Tentative Plans for its Development,” for the Houston Park Commission was “the first city planning document to be written about Houston” (Fox, Cite Spring 1983). The report was commissioned by the Park Commission because no Planning Commission existed at the time. In Comey’s plan, Houston’s first comprehensive city plan, the landscape architect “envisioned the city’s bayous overlaid with a network of parks and trails.” According to Comey, “Bayous and creeks readily lend themselves to trails and parks and cannot so advantageously be used for any other purpose.” http://www.ideas.swagroup.com/?s=persistent+vision+for+the+bayous, by Kevin Shanley 2/24/2015.
Comey’s report emphasized the importance of both water and rail transportation, and the connections between the two. This was forty years before the advent of the interstate highway system, when water and rail transport were the primary means of moving goods and services. Comey discussed a hierarchy of connections, determined by the relation of water, rail, and roads. Waterways were the most inflexible, as they are mostly determined by topography. Railways were somewhat similar in that they are also located by existing grades. Roads are the most flexible, as they are not as constrained by topography or water features (Comey, 7). An especially important issue for Comey was the lack of parks in the City of Houston. “Certain evils common to other cities do not exist in Houston. … But Houston is far behind other progressive cities in certain respects, notably in its park system, and should act at once to remedy these conditions” (Comey, 9). The following table from Comey’s report is extremely diagnostic in its analysis of the lack of parkland in Houston based on its “Population per Acre.”
Figure 27: The above analysis shows that of twenty progressive cities compared to Houston, that the “Population per Acre” for Houston was 685 per acre, which was greater than any other city in the analysis. Cities of similar size, like Des Moines and Utica, had five times the acreage of parkland per citizen as compared to Houston. (Comey, p 22).
Comey’s report recommended the immediate acquisition of extensive parkland by the City of Houston, and prioritized the type of land and the areas that should be emphasized, ranging from small block parks and school playgrounds to extensive forest preserves outside the city limits to be protected for use as future parks. Comey discusses the general uses of parks for children’s organized play and for areas that provide “complete restfulness and simple appeal of natural landscape in reservations of forest, meadow, and valley” (Comey, 10). Most provocative for Memorial Park are his comments about the Bayou: But the backbone of a park system for Houston will naturally be its bayou or creek valleys, which readily lend themselves to parking [development into parks] and cannot so advantageously be used for any other purpose. These valleys intersect the city and surrounding country in such a way as to furnish opportunity for parks of unusual value within a comparatively short distance of most of the residential areas, including those of the future as well as the present. 59
The normal type of bayou park will include a roadway as a boundary and parkway drive on the crest of the valley slope on either side, walks on the slope, and occasional lawns and playfields among the wooded areas. All the bayous should be parked except where utilized for commerce. There may be enumerated many reasons for this. The bayous are natural parks already. Tree-growth and grass are good even in populous sections; the valleys include the only scenery with slopes, while occasional narrow bends furnish level playfields. A relatively small acreage in park grounds embraces complete landscape units without obtrusion of the city, as the view from within the valley includes the immediate slopes and trees on the crest only. The long, narrow strips along the bayous will serve many communities; continuous walks can be laid out in naturalistic landscape; parkway drives along the banks of the bayou are capable of unusually park-like treatment; and long park frontages for pleasant homes will be provided. The effect on land values and tax returns is equally beneficial, as bayous have little value under private control, and depreciate surrounding property through their poor development, but as parks they greatly enhance the value of their frontage and the neighborhood in general. In addition to these continuous bayou parks there will be several parks along the commercial bayou for the industrial population of that quarter, and at least one large forest park forming a part of the inner system. Later additional forest tracts will be acquired as permanent reservations of wild scenery. Connecting the parks proper there will be broad parkways, - strips of park-like land carrying the effect of the parks far beyond their confines and encircling the district with a drive of great beauty. From the city, approaches to the parks will be formed by certain wide streets designated as boulevards and restricted as to traffic. (Comey, 10-11) While most of the Comey plan dealt with parkland within the city limits of Houston, the report also specifically addressed the “outer system” of possible parks for Houston. Forest Reservations along several of the bayous have been alluded to as a possible element of the outer system. The larger cities of the United States are beginning to realize the importance of reserving extensive areas, to be maintained in a wild state, to which the people can go for excursions and get away entirely for hours at a time from the city and all artificial surroundings. With the present small amount of agricultural land, estimated at eleven per cent, in Harris Country, such reservations might be obtained very cheaply. It should be possible to make them self-supporting in large measure through the cutting of marketable timber, as is done very extensively in Europe, without materially diminishing their value for recreation. Besides those roughly suggested on the general plan, one or more larger reservations will eventually be desired at a greater distance from the city. (Comey, 42-43) The plan that Comey developed primarily utilized the bayous radiating from downtown Houston for the majority of park lands. These were to be intersected by “parked” highways with plantings and trails along them, and all of this was to be connected by a large encircling loop park that linked the edge of downtown to the bayous and highways of the area. 60
Figure 28: â€œProposed Park System for Houston. Arthur G. Comey, Landscape Architect. 1912. (Comey, 22) .
Included in the Comey report for Houston were several photographs of landscape character in the area. Two of these are shown below.
Figure 29: “Forest East of Rice Institute – Within the Proposed Pines Park.” This general photograph shows a pine woodland close to downtown Houston on the east edge of Rice Institute. Note the high canopy and open ground plane shown in the photograph. (Comey, 34).
Figure 30: This image of a ravine close to Woodland Heights shows the general nature of the slopes of the headwaters of the ravines and bayous in the area. Species appearing in the image are magnolia, pine, oak, and other riparian succession trees. (Comey, 34).
Comey’s work on a comprehensive park plan for Houston would become the driving force in the city’s efforts for many years. In addition to all of the analysis he provided and the general schematic plan that showed potential park locations and connections, Comey made specific management recommendations to the city. The four “urgent” recommendations are as follows: 1. Hire a professional superintendent of parks and director of recreation to oversee park activities; 2. Create a civic center around the Harris County Courthouse; 3. Develop a city gate entrance of “architectural merit” at the railway station; and 63
4. Purchase the “beautiful pine woods in the vicinity of the Rice Institute and adjoining the proposed Outer System of parkways, where it meanders [along] Bray’s Bayou.” (Kirkland, 50). The recommendation to develop the piney woods near Rice, called Pines Park in Comey’s report, was perhaps, not coincidentally mostly owned by George H. Hermann, real estate investor, industrialist, and one of three initial members of the Park Commission. In 1914, Hermann announced that he would give 285 acres of these woodlands to Houston for the purpose of creating the municipal park suggested in Comey’s report. Another philanthropist soon added over a hundred more acres to the land holding, resulting in about 410 acres for the park. The Board of Park Commissioners hired celebrated landscape architect George Kessler, who had offices in St. Louis and Kansas City (Fox, 18). German-American Kessler (1862-1923) had Texas roots. Born in Germany, his family had emigrated in 1865, eventually settling in Dallas where his father grew cotton. At the death of the elder Kessler, Kessler returned to Germany to train as a landscape architect, engineer, and horticulturist, before returning to America for a professional position. He wrote to Frederick Law Olmsted in 1882, asking for career advice. Olmsted urged him “to be ambitious to be master in higher fields” than pleasure grounds and home gardens” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Kessler, accessed 02/24/2015). Impressed by Kessler’s program of study in Germany and his broad travel in Europe, Olmsted recommended the young man for a job in Kansas City, “a center for banking, insurance, and railroad interests,” where he went on to establish a successful firm and, in 1893, to design the first park and boulevard plan for the city (Kirkland, 45). The plan was “as bold a vision of the City Beautiful as that articulated by the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition,” while at the same time preserving the stream corridors and river bluffs so important to the city’s character (Culbertson, in Birnbaum and Karson, 212-213). Returning to his childhood home of Texas, Kessler was hired to establish groundwork for the Fort Worth park system in 1907, and in 1910-1911, he began work on a plan for Dallas that reflected “a growing awareness of the need to plan the ‘City Practical’ as well as the City Beautiful” (Culbertson, 214). In Kessler’s 1916 plan for Houston’s Hermann Park, he employed diagonal geometry, devising a landscaped elliptical island—the Sunken Garden—where Montrose and Main Streets cross. Montrose provided an axis around which different features were organized. Beyond this was the Grand Basin, with pergolas, boat landings, and an arcaded shelter house. Stephen Fox says that “Kessler demonstrated a pronounced facility for reconciling the requirements of ceremoniousness and informality in his design” (Fox, 18). The entry sequence of the plan is reminiscent of some of the moves that would be made several years later in Hare & Hare’s proposal for Memorial Park. 64
Comey’s 1913 plan occurred shortly after the citizens of Houston passed a $250,000 bond issue to create parks and parklands in the region. The creation of Hermann Park was accomplished remarkably quickly following on the heels of Comey’s recommendations. At the time, there was probably the impetus to also begin addressing his suggestion that the system include larger reservations at a greater distance from the city. Joseph Cullinan, a member of the Hogg-Swayze oil syndicate, obtained a copy of the Comey plan which he forwarded to Will Hogg in May of 1913. Thus, Will Hogg was intimately familiar with the details of the Comey plan and all of the recommendations that were included in the document. Cullinan was also appointed to a committee considering locations for a municipal park and fairgrounds in 1913, so he and Hogg would have had frequent conversations about the park planning process and the advantages to the city (Kirkland, 53). But any moves in this direction were surely interrupted by the onset of World War I. Beginning in 1914 in Europe and then in 1917 when the United States entered into the conflict, the “Great War” would consume the public mind, assets, citizens, designers, and soldiers until its end in 1918. Kessler, perhaps compelled to prove his patriotism as the child of a German immigrant, worked during the war preparing master plans for the Camp Planning Division, including Camp Travis in San Antonio (Culbertson, 215).
Camp Logan Just four years after Arthur Comey delivered his report to the Houston Park Commission, the United States found itself involved in World War I. The war had already been in progress for three years on the European continent by the time America realized that it could no longer stand by as Germany and its allied forces advanced across Europe. The late entry of the United States into the conflict made it necessary to quickly ramp up training of troops and then efficiently transport the newly trained men to combat in Europe. Houston won a contract to build one of the thirty-two training centers planned around the country – sixteen for the Army and sixteen for the National Guard. Houston’s camp was planned and constructed by the Army but was a training camp for the National Guard. The area located was roughly 3.5 miles west of downtown and the site was chosen due to its rural nature and its proximity to existing rail lines, which provided easy transportation of both construction materials for the camp and supplies for soldiers. The supplies brought in were for the daily life of the soldiers and the larger equipment and ammunition for warfare training. The United States leased the land for the camp from the Hogg family
(Varner Realty). The Hoggs had purchased the land and other adjacent tracts from the Reinermann Land Trust (Moore, 11, in Aulbach, et. al., 12). Clearing of the site started immediately, and W. P. Rothrock notes that: Clearing started on July 25th, 1917. Special care and attention was given to cutting of trees so that all oak trees or such trees as would give shade in summer, and protection from cold winds in winter were preserved. Special care was also taken to see that trees left standing gave a pleasing park like effect in the central area of the camp. In this desirable park like effect, as complete success was attained, as funds and conditions would permit. (Rothrock, 1) As large amounts of construction materials started to be delivered, the army sent veteran soldiers to the camp in August 1917 to secure the area. Some of these men were “fresh from chasing Pancho Villa in Mexico. A few were even veterans of the Indian Wars out West” (Cooke, 1980). Paul Cooke of the Houston Chronicle writes a detailed account of what happened on the night of August 23, 1917: The unusual thing about this troop was that it was an all-black unit: 654 enlisted men and non-commissioned officers of the 3rd battalion, 24th U.S. Infantry, one of several such units in the U.S. Army. The War Department’s choice for the guard duty assignment proved tragic. Acting Mayor Dan J. Moody later said, “The feeling that something was going to happen was in the air.” White citizens were nervous about armed black troops in the city. The soldiers were worried themselves, aware of the racial customs and prejudices of the South. Fearing protests might threaten the construction and its economic promise for the city, the Chamber of Commerce assure the military that, “in a spirit of patriotism, the colored troops would be treated all right.” But the worst fears of some were to be realized. Taking up their duties near where today are located baseball diamonds and picnic grounds, the troops soon ran into Texas’ Jim Crow racial discrimination laws. Accustomed to respect as veteran soldiers and career military men, they reacted angrily to discrimination. Attempts were made by concerned citizens, both black and white, to calm the situation, but finally, on the hot, humid night of Aug. 23, 1917, more that 100 soldiers mutinied. Their anger resulted in a night of violence in which 17 persons were killed—three black soldiers, four Houston policemen, and 10 civilians. It was years before the city of Houston recovered from the shock of that night, known as the Houston Riot of 1917. Most of the black troops did not participate in the violence, but some, in fear, ran into the woods. Records are sketchy, but months later, after the largest court martial in 66
American military history, at least 19 of the black soldiers were executed. Many others received sentences ranging from two years to life in prison. (Cooke, 1980) There now stands a small monument in Memorial Park that recognizes this chapter in the history of Camp Logan and the City of Houston.10 After this incident, construction of the camp resumed in earnest. Documentation for the condition of the landscape prior to its development as Camp Logan is scant, but the “Completion Report of Camp Logan, Houston, TX,” written by W. P. Rothrock, Capt., Engineers, U.S.R Constructing Quartermaster, in January, 1918, provides insight about some site conditions as well as difficulties encountered by the contractors working to build temporary housing and associated structure (mostly tents) for troop training. Excerpts from the report follow: “The camp proper and remount station are situated south of the intersection of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railway and the Houston and Texas-Central Railway” (Rothrock, 1). The intersection of the regional Texas railway connected this system with the interior of the country and on further to the East Coast of the United States, expediting the transport of people and supplies directly to the site.
Figure 31: This map showing connections to Houston and the interior demonstrate the interconnectedness of one of the railroad systems as of 1918. Houston is shown with an arrow pointing to the intersection of the 10
Marguerite Johnston, journalist and author, who wrote for the Houston Post for many years, gives a very detailed account of the mutiny incident in her book, Houston, the unknown city, 1836-1946, pp 200-204.
railways to the interior and the connecting line further south to Galveston. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Missouri%2C_Kansas_and_Texas_Railway_system_ma p_%281918%29.svg, accessed 01/28/2014.
“The rifle range is located about seven miles west of the camp and remount station on the Hillendahl Highway and Missouri-Kansas Texas Railway. The machine gun and artillery range is located about 3 miles west of the rifle range in the Hillendahl Highway and Missouri-Kansas Texas Railway” (Rothrock, 1). While the camp dormitories and ancillary structures were located at what would later become Memorial Park, the gunneries and artillery ranges were actually west of the future park. “The Hillendahl Highway is a tarvia [asphalt-like material] road with a good base and was built by Harris County Texas and is in very excellent shape, making vehicular connection between the camp and the ranges most satisfactory” (Rothrock, 1). So in addition to having excellent access to the interior of the country and East Coast by railroad lines, the site was also connected to the training areas to the west by an excellent, paved road. “The Missouri-Kansas Texas Railway gives excellent train service to the camp and the two ranges” (Rothrock, 1). Additionally, either the army or the railroad lines constructed “about three and three quarter miles of single track railroad siding … used for receiving and shipping camp supplies and materials” (Rothrock, 6). The site of Camp Logan is very flat. The tract was originally covered, for the most part, by a heavy growth of pine trees, oak trees, and brush. Previous to the occupation of the camp site by the Government, no attempt had ever been made to drain any portion of this land. (Rothrock, 1) This photograph shows the landscape character of the then army camp in the distance behind the troops involved in training drills at Camp Logan.
Figure 32: Source: http://www.houstonarchitecture.com/haif/topic/11676-camp-logan-pictures/, accessed 01/28/2014.
While Rothrock specifically mentions oak trees on the site, the predominant tree genus and species visible in the background of the above photograph is pine trees â€“ most probably loblolly pine, Pinus taeda. Loblolly was the dominant succession species of pine that appeared after the original long-leaf pine forests were cut for timber in the late nineteenth century throughout the Gulf South. The army constructed many temporary roads throughout Camp Logan, totaling a distance of ten miles. These roads were graded and paved with shell, which was dredged from the bottom of Galveston Bay (Rothrock, 1-2). Interestingly, a subway [underpass] was constructed under the Southern Pacific Railroad line on the western side of the site to enable safe troop movement back and forth to either side of the railroad out to the machine-gun, rifle, artillery ranges, and remount stations.
The portion of the report on Camp Logan sewerage is important, as it discusses issues related to the soil types that obviously still exist. During construction considerable difficulty was encountered by the open trenches caving in after rainstorms. One of the most severe of the season occurred July 3rd,  causing much damage and necessitating the reexcavation of long stretches of trench. Another difficulty was the very hard condition of the clay in the deeper trenches, which occasioned endless delays, due to the breakage of the trenching machines. (Rothrock, 7) Earlier in the report, Rothrock specifically discusses the soil profiles: The soil is clay loam, in some places sandy. This extends to a depth of 4 or 5 feet and then a yellow clay begins which extends to about 30 feet. The soil does not permit any seepage of water, and there all water must be carried off by ditches or left to evaporate. (Rothrock, 1) It seems obvious that these soils were not soils that percolated well, and thus drainage and sewerage had to be removed from the camp site through ditching and pipes â€“ either to Buffalo Bayou in the early months that the camp was open, and then later to the Houston Sewerage System. The number of men trained at Camp Logan has always been in question, but the division adjutant filed a description of the composition of the soldiers who would be arriving at Camp Logan, and his report follows: The Thirty-third Division, temporarily under the command of Brigadier General Henry D. Todd, Jr., in the absence of Major General George Bell, Jr., in France, is composed in the main of former Illinois National Guard and numbers today 914 officers and 23,205 enlisted men, a total of 24,100, in which are included substantially 2,000 drafted men received during the past week from the Eighty-sixth Division at Camp Grant, Rockford, Ill.; 60 officers and 959 enlisted men belonging to the camp troops, and 57 officers and 2,100 enlisted men of the Eighth Illinois Infantry (Colored). Neither the camp troops nor the Eighth Illinois will be sent abroad, according to present information. The actual strength of the Thirty-third Division proper is, therefore, 797 officers and 19,306 enlisted men â€” including 2,000 drafted men. Camp Grant at Rockford, Illinois, and Camp Dodge at Des Moines, Iowa, are still to furnish this division with 4,400 drafted men, but even so, there will still be a shortage of men, since the tables of organization prescribe that a division shall consist of 27,152 enlisted men. (States Publications Society, in Emmott, 13-14) The above enumerated men were to be transferred south to Camp Logan for actual war training in riflery and artillery and for eventual transport to and arrival on the battlefields of France (Emmott, 14). After the end of WWI in 1918, a portion of the camp became a hospital for injured and convalescing
soldiers as they returned from Europe. At that point, a nine-hole golf course was constructed adjacent to the hospital for outside recreation and recovery. An important story in the history of Camp Logan was the formation of the 370th Infantry on December 1, 1917. Composed entirely of African American soldiers, they were trained at the camp, and then sent overseas to fight alongside the 73rd Division of the French Army. They were first positioned on the front lines of the Saint Mihiel sector, and then were involved with the French 59th Division in the MeuseArgonne Offensive (Aulbach, et. al., back cover). “Individual acts of heroism in battle were recognized by decorations of honor as seventy-five soldiers of the 370th Infantry were awarded the French Croix de Guerre and twelve received the U. S. Army’s Distinguished Service Crosses” (Aulbach, et. al., back cover). Of the 2,500 men in the original contingent, only 1,260 returned to the United States at the end of the war. Many were killed in battle or died from wounds inflicted during fighting, and many of them were either missing, or were incapacitated by poison gas used during chemical warfare (Aulbach, et. al., back cover). On July 15, 1923, Catherine Emmott wrote a letter to the editor of the Houston Chronicle advocating the creation of a park on some of the land that had formerly been Camp Logan. This then led to the adoption of the idea by Varner Realty, led by the Hogg brothers, Will and Mike, along with their attorney and advisor Henry W. Stude. Varner Realty originally planned a large development of new homes on the site, but their civic-minded ideals came forward when they decided to set the land aside for a larger park that would become Memorial Park. Emmott notes that in 1919, “Practically no physical evidence of Camp Logan remains. After it was closed as a military camp on March 20, 1919, and turned over to the Public Health Service, various civilian contractors salvaged the water and sewer pipes, electrical wiring, lumber and other building supplies” (Emmott, 20). The camp hospital continued to operate as a military hospital for recuperating soldiers and as an indigent unit of the City of Houston’s health care system until 1923 when it was permanently closed (Emmott, 20). Of the soldiers who trained in Houston at Camp Logan, 1,000 died on foreign soil and another 6,266 were wounded (Emmott, 21).
The Hogg Family and the beginnings of Memorial Park The Hogg family is closely intertwined with Texas and Houston history. Originally arriving in Texas in 1839 from Virginia and North Carolina, James Hogg’s parents purchased property close to what is now Nacogdoches, Texas, where they owned 2,500 acres, 20 slaves, and had five children (Kirkland, 14-15). 71
The family struggled during the Civil War and eventually lost their original landholding. Both of James Hogg’s parents died during this time. Still a child, he was raised by his sister until he could venture forth to find work in the area at the age of sixteen, where he became a “printer’s devil” in Rusk, Texas (Kirkland, 15). He later became a county attorney, district attorney, Texas attorney general, and then Governor of Texas (Kirkland, 16). In 1891, Jim Hogg [James Stephen Hogg] was elected governor of Texas as a progressive Democrat. He served in that position until 1895, the same year as the death of his wife and mother of his four children, Mike, Will, Ima, and Tom. Although not a rich man when he left the Texas governorship, Hogg had accumulated enough assets to purchase an existing plantation in West Columbia, Texas, to the southwest of Houston. This plantation became the rural family seat, and was renamed Varner-Hogg Plantation. Situated partially on a salt dome, oil was discovered on the property in the late 1890s, and Hogg leveraged this early wealth into syndicate positions in Spindletop and other early Texas oil fields. These landholdings and syndicates cemented the family’s fortunes for the rest of their lives. James Hogg was injured in a train accident in 1905 and died from complications related to the accident in January of 1906. Upon his death, Will Hogg became the executor of the family estate and the titular head of the family. With Mike away at school, Tom at Varner, and Ima studying music in Europe, Will set up offices in Houston, and thrust himself into the daily life of the city, working closely with his father’s former associate, Joseph Cullinan, and the Texas Company, later called Texaco. During the 1910 decade, Ima and Mike returned to Houston, and the three siblings established a residence together and began their professional and civic life in their adopted city. Tom moved on to San Antonio, Colorado, and Arizona, and never participated in philanthropic activities in Houston like his siblings (Kirkland, 25). Oil discoveries at Varner Plantation in 1917 and 1918 elevated the Hogg siblings to “Texas’s oil aristocracy” (Kirkland, 26). These wells continued to produce millions of barrels of oil annually for decades. In the early 1920s, Mike Hogg and a friend from law school, Hugh Potter, began to explore the area west of downtown Houston along Buffalo Bayou. Their first area of investment was a hunting retreat called “Tall Timbers” to the south of Buffalo Bayou. Other developers were looking at the area for a new country club and golf course. At that time, the area was accessible by a gravel road, which was later paved as Westheimer Road, and by bridle paths cut through the trees (Kirkland, 58).
At the same time that Hogg and others were exploring the area west of downtown for development, “Catherine Emmott was named chairwoman of a committee to rally public opinion behind transforming the campground into a city park” (Kirkland, 59). Through the efforts of Emmott and then Mayor Oscar Holcombe, the Hoggs decided to sell this land to the city of Houston for the purpose of developing a large forest park on the outskirts of the city. In order to facilitate the park’s beginnings, three of the Hogg siblings, Will, Ima, and Mike donated a cumulative amount of $50,000 for the initial down payment for the park land. “The land was to be named Memorial Park to commemorate the soldiers of World War I” (Kirkland, 59). The City of Houston commissioned the Kansas City, Missouri, landscape architecture firm of Hare & Hare to draw up a schematic design for the park and include an eighteenhole golf course. The plan they developed is included below.
Figure 33: “Preliminary Plan for Memorial Park – Houston – Texas. Prepared for the Board of Park Commissioners by Hare & Hare – Landscape Architects & City Planners,” nd – Courtesy: University of Missouri Archives, Kansas City, MO.
The above preliminary plan probably dates to circa 1924, the time that the firm of Hare & Hare was commissioned to begin working on plans for Memorial Park. It shows several features that would become part of the final design; golf course, general play area (baseball, etc), bridle paths and walks
through native woods, a club house with a garden behind it, lakes on the golf course, and a nursery in the upper right corner of the property. Existing surrounding and intersecting uses were Buffalo Bayou, the River Oaks Country Club, and the Southern Pacific R.R. Stephen Fox in his book about The Country Houses of John Staub writes about the origins of Memorial Park as follows: Between November 1923 and April 1924 the Varner Realty Company, the Hogg-Stude real estate operation, bought several tracts of land aggregating one thousand five hundred three acres on the north side of Buffalo Bayou four miles west of Main Street. These purchases comprised the easternmost [sic â€“ westernmost] extension of a dense pine forest that ran for several miles along Buffalo Bayou west of Houston, an outlier of the East Texas piney woods. In May 1924, Hogg Brothers sold this land at cost to the City of Houston and additionally donated nearly ten percent of the purchase price to the city so that it could make the first payment on the tract, which was to be dedicated as a park, Memorial Park, in memory of Houstonians killed in World War I. (Fox, 69) In June, STA visited the University of Texas in Austin and surveyed the Will Hogg papers at the Harry Briscoe Center at the library archives. Many documents relating to Memorial Park were located including newspaper articles, meeting minutes, handwritten memos by Will Hogg, maps, reports, and photographs. Probably one of the most important newspaper articles located during that visit is from the Houston Chronicle, November 30, 1926. Evidently, controversy had arisen about the role of Varner Realty, the Hoggs, and other investors in the River Oaks neighborhood. Below is a transcription of the article:
MEMORIAL PARK DONATION TO CITY EXPLAINED Henry Stude Issues Statement in Which He Declares Hogg Brothers Acted for Interest of City. A detailed explanation of the transfer to the city, through Hogg Brothers, of the Memorial Park acreage, was issued Tuesday by Henry W. Stude, vice president of Varner Brothers, who declared that Hogg Brothers were absolutely disinterested in any personal profit, and acted only for what they thought would be the best interests of the city. In his statement to the editor, Mr. Stude said: Assuming that speakers in the present mayoralty campaign who are making erroneous statements are really interested in knowing the truth, I would thank you to publish this brief statement of the facts which are a matter of public record and are easily ascertainable. 1. In November, 1922. Varner Realty Company (owned by Hogg Brothers and myself) contracted to purchase approximately 875 acres from Ross, Masterson et al at $176 per acre. This purchase was made for prospective development by Varner Realty Company. In April, 1924, Hogg Brothers, our principal shareholders, took the notion that this land would make an ideal woodland park and that it should be made available to the city at our cost, to all of which I, as a minority stockholder, cheerfully agreed. 2. In studying that locality we discover that the Reinerman Land Company, composed of messrs. James A. Baker, C. L. Carter, Jesse Andrew, Clarence Wharton, David Hannah et all, owned 650 adjacent unimproved acres which should be included in the proposed park. 3. After preliminary negotiations by Will Hogg, the Reinerman Land Company agreed to join with Varner Realty in promoting the park, and on the 21st day of April, 1924, they wrote a joint letter offering the city 1503 acres, as follows: Varner Realty approximately 873.68 acres at $175.33 per acre, being actual cost; Reinerman 630 at $600 per acreâ€”a total consideration of $532,057.75, less a cash donation of $50,000, making a net cost to the city of $483,057.75, or $320.58 an acreâ€” which is not over 40 percent of the fair market value of the property at this time. However, when it was discovered that the city could not easily buy this land upon the terms therein offered and when the attorneys for the Reinerman Land Company interposed some technical objection to a direct sale to the city, it was agreed that the Reinerman Land Company should sell its 630-acre section to Varner Realty Company at the price quoted the city and Varner Realty in turn would sell it to the city at cost on the installment plan, with fixed annual payments in the meantime giving the city full use of the entire property. If you really know the details of this method, you will see that Varner Realty assumed a continuing responsibility in the transaction for a period of 10 years, which resulted in no slight inconvenience to it to say nothing of the profit it did forego in selling its 875 acres at the low cost price of $176. 76
4. Anyone, even without legal ability, who will take the trouble to read the documents in the case will see that the discrepancy between the aggregate ecost (sic) of the Varner Realty acreage and the Reinerman acreage, and the price state in the transfer to the city by Varner Realty, is explained by the fact that to enable the city to meet the purchase out of its general fund it was necessary to fix annual amounts which the mayor and council estimate would be available. Such an even-payment plan required that the interest be figured in these annual payments so that the difference in the sum total of the installment notes, including interest, and the cost price to Varner Realty is explained by this loading of interest. I dare say this has confused some honest minds into believing that Varner Realty (Hogg Brothers) made a quick turn at the cost of the city. 5. Between the time that Varner Realty contracted to purchase its 875 acres to the closing of its contract with the city, there was a considerable increase in the value of this land of which all of us were fully aware. Furthermore, it is known by many, although I do not recall any particular publicity at the time, that Hogg Brothers gave the city $50,000 as a few-will gift to enable it to make the first cash payment to acquire this park. All the details of closing this transaction are fully known by C. L. Carter and other members of Captain James A. Baker’s firm who were interested in the Reinerman Land Company, and I have no doubt Mr. Carter will testify to the disinterested zeal evinced by our representatives, as well as himself, in closing this transaction for the benefit of Houston. 6. In March, 1923, Mike Hogg acquired 118 acres in the west end of what is now River Oaks reservation. His acquisition of that property familiarized all of us with the RossMasterson acreage and led to its purchase. When the park idea was evolved, Will and Mike Hogg, myself and others of our organization became very enthusiastic about that whole section, especially as it was a matter of public record that Buffalo Bayou Drive was then definitely under projection by the city. Beyond this ownership of Mike’s, I know Hogg Brothers refused to take any steps in acquiring the original unit of River Oaks and adjacent properties until the Memorial Park purchase was made common knowledge to all the people of Houston—this calculated delay undoubtedly cost the River Oaks Syndicate quite a sturdy premium over the prices prevailing before the park was an established public fact. 7. If you or any one of your readers desire any detailed information about any or all of these transactions, Hogg Brothers are quite willing to show all correspondence, documents, files, et cetera, in connection with all the transactions affecting Memorial Park and River Oaks as well. This is to keep the record straight and to refresh the memory of Houstonians who love their city—for us, it closes the case. A contribution if not the controlling incentive to dedicate the increment in his land to public use was not only that as a park it would delight oncoming generations, but that it should serve as a stimulus to others to make concessions for the common good as they live and thrive; and I do not believe that this spirit of civic patriotism can be dampened by any individual’s misguided political ambition.
So, not only did Varner Realty (Hogg Brothers) forego the 60% increase in value of the land tract set aside for sale to the city of Houston, they also committed their funds to purchase the Reinermann Tract for inclusion in the park property, and then donated $50,000 in seed money to enable the transaction to move forward due to the city’s cash flow schedule and limitations. Memorial Park was just one of many parks developed in the city of Houston during the 1920s. From an article in the Post-Dispatch, December 29, 1926, several parks were discussed and the newly created master plan for Memorial Park was shown. “Memorial Forest park, the newest and largest addition to the system, contains 1503 acres. It is located at the foot of Washington avenue on Buffalo bayou and soon is to become one of the most beautiful and useful parks in the state.” With the plan in hand, one would think that development of Memorial Park would have moved forward quickly. This article from The Houston Chronicle, Sunday, October 16, 1927, probably explains why little action was taken in Memorial Park: Left in Wild State. Not much will be done with Memorial Park at this time, Mr. Hare said, as the park is so large, 1503 acres, and it would require too much money. “Houston does not need this park developed much at present, anyway. We will provide driveways, clear out some brush, do a little planting and leave most of it in a wild state which should appeal to those who desire that form of outdoor recreation.” Indeed, Hare & Hare was working at Hermann Park, MacGregor Park, Cleveland Park, the Sam Houston Monument, Miller Memorial theater improvement, Martha Fleming Park, and many others. Clearly, the city, park superintendent Brock, the Hare & Hare firm, and financial constraints determined what the focus of all of this work would be in the years just preceding the Great Depression. Another interesting fact is that after the establishment of Memorial Park, Will Hogg was attempting to connect downtown to the Park in multiple ways. The following memo recording a meeting of members of the park board with WCH [Will Clifford Hogg] in the Hogg Brothers offices shows that Hogg was very open to swapping Memorial Park property for other parcels of property if it would improve connectivity with the Park, or forward the mission of the Park:
Houston, Texas, November 23, 1927 PARKS Office Memo: Today, at 12:30, Mr. Collier and the following members of the Park Board had luncheon with WCH: Herbert Godwin E. L. Crain R.C. Kerr In discussing drives and parkways along the bayous, WCH pointed out advisability of having Park Board (City) own all property between drives and the bayous and explained why Buffalo Drive was not extended on through River Oaks. Herbert Godwin told those present about the proposed drive on the North side of the Bayou to Memorial Park, which would have private ownerships (Ben Andrews and one other) between the drive and the bayou. HG stated further that he thought the owners would agree to trade their property along the bayou for other property in Memorial Park and WCH stated he would agree to it and that they ought to by all means work on this now and endeavor to get all the parkway between the drive and the bayou. E. R. Spotts will do the negotiating. WCH stated he would waive any restrictions in Memorial Park in order to accomplish this. Discussed MacGregor Park and property owned by C. M. Malone and associates which WCH thought ought to be tied in to MacGregor Park. Discussed Suscholtz property on Buffalo Drive – WCH stated he was working on this now and hoped to close deal for it for the City shortly. Also had man working on Henry Raw and Goodson properties, to see if they will name a price at which they will sell their properties to the City. Discussed Houston Country Club trading their present property for not over 150 acres in Northwest or Northeast corner of Memorial Park and use their present grounds for park and municipal golf course. WCH might agree trade on this basis. It was pointed out that the Country Club would lose their investment in improvements if property disposed of for commercial purposes, etc. HEB [Secretary to Will Hogg] In just this one memo, we see that Will Hogg was agreeable to swap park property for property along Buffalo Bayou east of the park, and was willing to “waive any restriction in Memorial Park in order to accomplish this.” He was also willing to trade 150 acres of Memorial Park with the Houston Country Club for “park and municipal golf course.” From what STA can determine, the Houston Country Club did not accept this proposal. With Will Hogg’s untimely death on September 12, 1930, the flurry of meetings related to Memorial Park and property swaps ended. The boundaries of the Park remained primarily the same until the advent of Interstate I-10 and the 610 Loop. 79
Very few improvements occurred in Memorial Park for the first decade. During the 1930s, the advent of the Great Depression and the activities of the Work Projects Administration provided the stimulus for some of the first major additions of amenities to the park proper. “The WPA put men to work constructing roads, a golf course, and clubhouse, and picnic grounds. The 18-hole golf course, constructed by the WPA, was opened in 1936” (Keltner, 10). The Hogg family was careful to include reversionary clauses in each deed as they sold land to the city for Memorial Park. Over the years, there have been efforts to construct a, “Presbyterian University, the Astrodome, a restaurant, and oil wells” (Kirkland, 59). Because of the constant efforts to infringe on park property, Ima Hogg, the last surviving member of the Hogg family, shortly before her death in 1975, asked her friends Sadie Gwin Blackburn and Terry Hershey to form an organization whose mission was to protect the park from development for inappropriate uses. Starting out as the Memorial Park Advisory Committee, it later became the Memorial Park Conservancy – which is the current form of this protective organization (Kirkland, 59). The Hoggs and Civic Philanthropy The Hogg family of Houston was instrumental in the early development of the “modern” city, and were key progressives promoting civic values for all Houstonians. “The Hoggs believed passionately that everyone can be involved in philanthropic activities: volunteers can pitch in and help dozens of nonprofit organizations; activists can speak up to identify problems and proselytize solutions; donors can give, a little or a lot, to institutions that gain their trust” (Kirkland, xiv). The Hoggs contributed to Houston in six thematic ways: 1. Parks/the Built Environment: In the 1920s, they shaped the built environment through business practices, public service, and philanthropy by building planned residential communities, by advocating city planning, and by donating park spaces. 2. Mental Health: Through the 1920s and 1930s, they adopted the little-understood cause of mental health care through the establishment of the Houston Child Guidance Center and the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. 3. Education: In the 1910s and 1920s, Will Hogg established the alumni organization at the University of Texas and provided student loan endowments at every Texas institution of higher learning; in the 1940s, Ima Hogg served on the Houston Board of Education; all of the Hoggs supported lectures and faculty at the University of Texas and Rice Institute. 4. Music: Ima studied to be a concert pianist, and was instrumental in the founding of the Houston Symphony Society. 80
5. Decorative arts/American history: Both Will and Ima began collecting American decorative arts and paintings and conceived the idea that Houston must develop Texas’s first municipal art museum, through fund-raising, direct donation of substantial money, and then transfer of museum quality decorative arts to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. 6. Historic Preservation: Ima through the last decades of her life rescued numerous important structures and then donated her home, contents, and the surrounding gardens to the City of Houston. (Kirkland, xv). A key component of the way they worked was to “unite politicians, volunteers, and business-people in partnerships of civic responsibility,” which demonstrated their understanding of building coalitions to found and nurture the organizations that they realized could help solve society’s problems, but also prevent the same problems from ever occurring in the first place (Kirkland, xv).
The Wiess Family, Horses, and Polo Marguerite Johnston in her book on the history of Houston from 1836 to 1946 writes about the spread of country places from downtown Houston to the west. In the late 1920s, the horse was the main reason for the spread of country places along North Post Oak Lane between Westheimer and the unpaved Memorial Drive that ran through Memorial Park and beyond it to the west. Both Mrs. Howard Hughes and Mrs. Harry Wiess loved horses and, in the early 1920s, they rode almost every morning. By the mid-1930s, Memorial Park surpassed Hermann Park in bridle trails. Clare Fleming Sprunt said: “San Felipe Road had some sort of hard surface on it, but wasn’t exactly paved, and it ran right out into the country. We forded the bayou near the River Oaks Country Club golf course, down near the railway trestle, and went into Memorial Park to Ride.” (Johnston, 317-319) In 1930, Seth Lamb of the Bridle Committee of the Houston Polo and Riding Club corresponded with Hare & Hare about the “contemplated development of Memorial Park by the City of Houston.” Hare & Hare returned a copy of the general plan to him per his request. Herbert Hare commented that “The plan is very general as yet and no bridle paths were shown although it was intended the southerly portion of the park adjoining the bayou should have bridle paths and foot trails and be free from roads.” With the later construction of the Bayou Club on the northwest border of the park, the bridle paths were constructed in that area for proximity to the polo grounds and stables. Families rode from country place to country place on horseback to have lunch, swim, or play tennis.
By 1938, these gatherings prompted the idea of a new club to adjoin Memorial … the Bayou Club. The charter of July 25, 1939, was signed by Robert D. Farish, Stephen P. Farish, W. St. John Garwood, S. M. McAshan, Jr., Hugo Neuhaus, R. D. Randolph, and Harry C. Wiess. John Staub, Stephen Farish, and Baron Neuhaus explored the woodland west of Memorial Park on horseback until they found a suitable site for the club. The land they chose was owned by the University of Texas, and Mike Hogg helped them acquire it. Staub designed the gracious clubhouse in the style of southern Louisiana plantation houses of the eighteenth century. (Johnston, 320) The role of polo, horses, and bridle paths played a pivotal role in the early history of the park. The Hare & Hare plan for the park includes “Bridle Paths & Walking Through Native Woods.” From the beginning of park design and planning, there was to be accommodation for horses. Although the location of the bridle paths that were installed in the park ended up being on the northwest corner of the property, the location is irrelevant to the fact that from the earliest stages of planning design, bridle paths were included. On January 1, 1942, the Wiess family gave the tract of land that originally been their country home, with its stables and riding trails to the City of Houston. The tract was given to the city “without any strings attached to ‘be used for any purpose the city sees fit’” (Emmott, 27). It was annexed into Memorial Park and later became an archery range, “…a popular pastime of the day.”
Figure 34: This image shows the stables at the Wiess family property on the west side of the 610 loop that was donated by the family to the City of House. It later became an archery range. Horse riding and sports were instrumental in the early history of the park. (Johnston, 319).
Later survey work by J. K. Wagner & Company, Inc. in 2009 determined that the Weiss tract contains important archaeological records. Some are possibly associated with pre-historic artifacts on the site and these were registered in 1988 with the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory in Austin as file No. 41HR617. This registration was related to the work by Marshall Black, local amateur archaeologist in the 1930s. Wagner’s careful and exhaustive research through legal records and the company’s field work at the Archery Range site also show that there are extant and potential archaeological records associated with “a large brick kiln complex, charcoal manufacturing and an antebellum market, plant nursery, and orchard dating from the 1840s through the 1930s” (Wagner, 1-3). At the same time that horses and polo were becoming a part of Memorial Park, the Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition was formed in 1931. The first trail ride associated with the rodeo occurred in 1952 as the Salt Grass Trail Ride. Various rides have proliferated and now number fourteen. All of these rides arrive in Memorial Park in the spring and riders camp at the park before the large
parade that celebrates this important cultural connection to the outlying areas that surround Houston. The name was changed to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1961. Attendance during the multiweek event now exceeds two million visitors, adding greatly to the Houston economy.
Chapter 3: Existing Conditions Character-Defining Features This chapter describes the existing conditions of Memorial Park shortly after the initiation of the master planning process begun in December, 2013. STA staff attended the initial kick-off meeting in Houston and made preliminary notes about the park. In March of 2014, the STA team visited Memorial Park again and took extensive photographs, performed aerial drone flyovers of the entire park, and took decibel readings in various areas within park boundaries. Photographs were geo-tagged as a permanent record of conditions at the point in time and at each place visible on Google Earth. This inventory of existing conditions is a systematic process that documents the site at a precise time. These baseline records are used to compare what currently exists in the park against the Statement of Significance of the park in order to make a determination of integrity. This also creates a permanent record or â€œsnapshotâ€? in time that park managers can refer back to when questions arise about the use of the park at this point. As a component in landscape preservation, existing conditions gives historians, planners, and designers a valuable tool in future decisions about the park, based on what it looked like at one point in time. These categories are those promulgated by the National Park Service in its standards related to historic and cultural landscapes and their preservation.
Natural systems, features, and topography The most important natural system of the park traversing the parkâ€™s southern border of the park is Buffalo Bayou. Fortunately, this segment of the bayou has been protected over the years from channelization, and retains its riparian character within Memorial Park. The pictures below show segments of the bayou where both sides exist in their natural state, with no engineered pilings to prevent erosion or intrude on the overall scene. There is a large amount of human-caused trash and detritus in the bayou and washed up on each bank.
Figure 35: Buffalo Bayou natural area in Memorial Park. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 36: Buffalo Bayou looking across to south side of bayou. (Photo: STA staff).
On the south side of the bayou, homes and the River Oaks Country Club dominate the bayou edge. Here, homeowners and the Country Club have used multiple types of engineered treatments to stabilize the banks of the bayou. Different types of drainage pipes are visible from the Memorial Park side looking over the bayou onto the south side, some of these are quite large.
Figure 37: Buffalo Bayou, structural attempts to reduce bank erosion on south side of bayou. . (Photo: STA Staff).
Figure 38: Buffalo Bayou looking south. Large drainage pipe coming into bayou. (Photo: STA Staff).
The image below shows one of the â€œbarrancosâ€? or ravines that incise the relatively flat land of the park adjacent to the bayou, and drain directly into the water body. A series of these provide the only real noticeable topographic change within the park borders.
Figure 39: Barranco or small ravine on the north side of Buffalo Bayou in Memorial Park. (Photo: STA Staff).
Much of the park is covered in woodlands and scrub underbrush, with the largest wooded area concentrated on the south side of Memorial Drive Parkway, which bisects the park east to west at its middle point. These woodlands were primarily climax hardwood and pine forest, which was first damaged during Hurricane Ike and then decimated by the drought that began in 2010. The two images below show the condition of the tree canopy above and shrub layer beneath in March of 2014. Trees are in decline, standing but dead, or have fallen onto the forest floor. This condition exists throughout the park except in portions of the park that receive regular irrigation, such as the golf course and other developed activity nodes in the park.
Figure 40: Degraded woodland area showing decimated tree canopy. Dead trees are still standing, logs crisscross the forest floor. Underbrush beginning to become more dense. (Photo: STA Staff).
Figure 41: Damaged tree canopy. Note dead trees still standing and how little overall canopy exists. (Photo: STA Staff).
Overall, the natural topography of the upland portions of the site are relatively flat, with some very low, gently rolling landforms. The soils are primarily clays with infrequent sand lenses and percolation is extremely slow. During rainy periods, the site is very wet.
Spatial Organization The site is separated into a multitude of different entities or zones. There are various entry points into the site, so each visitorâ€™s initial experience depends on the place where they drive, bicycle, jog, or walk onto the site. The primary access to the park is through Memorial Drive, with multiple zones on both the north and south side of the drive. Neighborhoods are located on the east side of the park and each of these have access points through surface streets. The north side of the side is bounded by Interstate 10 while the west side is bounded by the 610 Loop. The west side of the park is connected to the surrounding urban fabric by Woodway Drive and Memorial Drive. Additionally, the western third of the 92
site is separated from the rest of the park by a double set of train tracks, with the right-of-way on both sides, and a large, overhead electrical line pylons and its servitude. Roughly 1,000 acres of the site exists in various forms of natural or open space, consisting of woods, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, the extensive trail/mountain-bike system, the Weiss tract, bridle paths and associated woods, and the Hogg Bird Sanctuary. While natural space is almost seventy percent of the park, the visitor does not feel that sense of scale when in the park due to the bisecting roadway, the multiple recreation venues, and the degraded yet dense woodland coverage which is mostly impassable. While there are large portions of the site that are green space and remain unprogrammed wooded or open areas, these are delineated by other uses that divide and separate them into smaller units. South of Memorial Drive there are several extensive walking, biking, and mountain bike trails. These are typically located in the wooded areas and are the quietest areas of the park. The maintenance area with associated offices is located off the south side of Memorial Drive and consists of greenhouses, an outside nursery area, storage sheds for equipment, and parking for maintenance workers. The Memorial Park Conservancy office was located adjacent to this node, but is not housed in the new running center. The picnic loop is a large, 52-acre site with multiple tables, comfort stations, grill stands, water fountains, and open space. Due to its extensive size, the road within the picnic loop is used by bicyclers who ride a circuit within the loop. Furniture in the picnic area ranges from WPA-era concrete picnic tables and benches to modern aluminum one-piece units. This area, though well-organized, conveys a sense of neglect due to the scarcity of ground cover, the damaged tree canopy, and an overall sense of a vegetated landscape in decline and distress. West of the picnic loop is a series of baseball, volleyball, and rugby fields. The newly constructed running center is adjacent to the railroad and utility corridor and provides exercise space, lockers, comfort stations, meeting rooms, parking for visitors, the offices of the Memorial Park Conservancy, and a police precinct. South of the running center is a series of remnant concrete foundations associated with shower and bathroom facilities that date to the Camp Logan era. This site, along with a section of land along the golf
course and the former location of the army hospital, have been designated a State Archaeological Landmark by the Texas Historical Commission (2013). The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center comprises roughly 155 acres of land and serves as an important educational center in Houston. The mission of the center is, â€œto provide education about the natural environment to people of all ages and to protect and enhance the Arboretum as a haven and as a sanctuary for native plants and animalsâ€? (http://houstonarboretum.org/about/, accessed 02/28/2015). Wooded areas, wetlands, ponds, and an extensive trail system provide visitors with an environment for viewing native plants and animals in a natural setting. A recent master plan by Reed|Hilderbrand and Design Workshop will guide development of the next phase of the Arboretum. The north side of Memorial Drive is the most programmed portion of the park. In the northwest corner is the extensive system of bridle paths and trails that connects to the Bayou Club, a private entity where residents stable horses and play polo. The bridle paths connecting to Memorial Park provide exercise and walking trails for the horses and a way for riders to connect with nature. This trail system goes under Memorial Drive at one point, connecting to trails in the land bounded by Memorial Drive, Woodway Drive and the 610 Loop. Across the 610 loop is the tract of land donated by the Weiss family in the 1940s. It was once an archery range, but is now green, wooded space. East of the railroad right-of-way and north of Memorial Drive is the golf course. Designed by John Bredemus during the depression and constructed using WPA labor, the course is open to the general public and serves as a popular golf destination for area residents and visitors. On the north side of the golf course is the tennis center and eighteen courts. Parking adjoins the tennis area on both sides of W. Memorial Loop Road and the 1/4 â€“ mile timing track for runners north of the parking lot. East of this area is a series of ball fields and a soccer field near the adjoining Camp Logan neighborhood. Further southeast is another ball field, Memorial Swimming Pool, and playgrounds for children. Encircling almost all of this highly programmed area is the Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail which parallels Memorial Drive and Memorial Loop Drive. The trail is a linear system of decomposed granite, with lighting, comfort stations, water fountains, and is approximately three miles in length.
Due to its large size, Memorial Park has been able to accommodate an extensive inventory of passive and active recreation within its boundaries. Further east and separated from the larger park is the Hogg Bird Sanctuary. Roughly fifteen acres in size, this portion of Memorial Park is bounded by neighborhoods to the north and Buffalo Bayou on its southern border.
Figure 42: Golf Course at Memorial Park. Pine/oak overstory with ornamental shrub layer. Greens, fairways, rough are mostly open in spatial character. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 43: Clubhouse at Golf Course. This building contains meeting rooms, locker area, gift shop, and a popular restaurant. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 44: Pool at Memorial Park. Large swimming pool with adjoining changing rooms, picnic areas, and playground. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 45: Texas Historical Commission Camp Logan historic marker. Marker discusses the origins of the camp, the â€œHouston Mutiny and Riot of 1917â€?, the divisions that trained at Camp Logan, and opening and closing dates. Located at the Arnot Street entrance to Memorial Park. (Photo: STA Staff).
Figure 46: Signage for Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail. Lieberman is considered the â€œFatherâ€? of the running movement in the Houston area. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 47: Broad, crushed granite running/walking area along W. Memorial Loop Drive. Parking adjacent to road. Grass separation provides safety for runners and walkers. Part of the Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 48: Exercise area along running/walking path on W. Memorial Loop Drive. Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 49: Fountain for dogs/animals. Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 50: Water fountains and seating areas along W. Memorial Loop Drive. Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 51: Tennis Center building. W. Memorial Loop Drive. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 52: Tennis courts at tennis center on W. Memorial Loop Drive. Parking on northern side adjacent to courts, wooded buffer to the south. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 53: Original house/office for Memorial Park. Located in the maintenance area. Former home of the Memorial Park Conservancy. (Photo: STA Staff).
Figure 54: Greenhouse, water storage cistern, plantings at maintenance area. This is one of a series of greenhouses in the maintenance area where ornamental plants and annual color are propagated for the park. (Photo: STA Staff).
Figure 55: Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 56: Pathway at Nature Center. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 57: Boardwalk at Nature Center encircling pond. (Photo: STA staff).
Figure 58: Teaching amphitheater at Nature Center. (Photo: STA Staff).
Land Use Memorial Parkâ€™s main land use is active and passive recreation, education, conservation, administration and maintenance, and habitat conservation. While these are the over-riding land uses and are the legally mandated uses of the park, NBW has analyzed the site and divided it into multiple land uses that define the modern park. The largest portions of the park are still primarily natural space, consisting of wooded lands, recently compromised by hurricane and drought damage. A large portion of the northeast portion of the site consists of a WPA golf course, which was originally designed by a noted regional golf course designer â€“ John Bredemus. The course was altered during 1995 to bring it up to 110
standards typical of the period and to make the course available for professional PGA tournaments. Other large portions of the site are occupied by playgrounds, an extremely large picnic ground and loop, trails, bridle paths, and circulation. The portion of the site fronting Buffalo Bayou is primarily undeveloped for park uses and maintains a more natural character. The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center comprises a sizeable portion of the southwest corner of the site adjacent to Memorial Drive and the railroad easement. The following map is STAâ€™s analysis of Land Use in the park.
Usage breaks down into the following categories as listed: Natural, undeveloped space Natural/Woods Arboretum Natural/Trails Weiss Bridle Paths/Woods Hogg Bird
350.2 164.7 340.1 14.5 115.9 14.6
Roads and Drive Memorial Dr/Median
Access Roads .5 Loop Road and Median 7.2 Picnic Roads 1.4 Utility Maintenance Area Train and ROW Programmed Recreation Golf Picnic Baseball Baseball, Playgrounds Pool Area Tennis Rugby Volleyball Running
8.4 48.9 227.2 52.1 16.8 33.2 8.7 5.5 4.0 2.3
Total calculated area including the Weiss Tract and Hogg Bird is 1,461.1 acres.
Cultural traditions The cultural tradition of Memorial Park is as a large, urban park. There are multiple earlier associations with the park that have influenced its current condition. The most important cultural association was the existence of Camp Logan between 1917 and 1919 and the commemoration of this period by the selection of “Memorial” as the park’s name. The work that was involved with constructing the camp was extensive and involved roads, drainage ditches, concrete pads for temporary buildings, and extensive clearing of underbrush and selective tree cutting to create a park-like environment for the trainees on site. Before the construction of Camp Logan, the land was a nineteenth century land-grant owned by the Reinermann family, and appears to have been used for grazing and later for timber harvesting. The visitor today does not see these associations, which have been either erased from the park experience, or are hidden in a dense understory of native and non-native invasives. Recent cultural associations have to do with the early manifestations of the jogging/running lifestyle, archery, major golf tournaments, and the assembly and camping point of the trail riders – which has grown into an extremely large tourism event in the region.
Cluster arrangements Cluster arrangements consist primarily of the collection of active and passive recreation that have been constructed since the advent of the park in the mid-1920s, primarily during the WPA in the 1930s and then later additions to the park as funding allowed and societal demands were incorporated into the 112
park fabric. The largest construction project during the 1930s was the creation of the golf course. The course is sited in the general area that was designated by the 1920-era Hare & Hare plan for the location of the golf course. It should again be noted that the Hare & Hare plan was a very general master plan, with few detailed drawings of specific areas, and little further development of the different elements called for in the plan. The picnic cluster occupies a large area with multiple tables, benches, and comfort stations. This loop of picnic tables and areas is extremely large, and does not seem to enjoy extensive use. Other clusters are the group of ball fields, swimming pool, tennis courts – all consisting of active recreation in the northwest corner of the site. The cluster of bridle trails adjacent to the Bayou Club optimizes the proximity of the private club with the public bridle paths that connect back to it. The corner of the site where the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is situated is adjacent to a large area of hiking and mountain-bike trails that criss-cross this portion of the park. Trails are categorized by level of difficulty depending on the fitness goals of participants. An important linear cluster is the Seymour Lieberman Exer-trail, one of the oldest jogging trails in the country. Seymour Lieberman was an early advocate of jogging, and what was then considered a craze has become standard exercise for fitness enthusiasts. The last cluster group is the maintenance facilities and small administrative buildings located on Memorial Drive. These include sheds for equipment, greenhouses, administrative buildings, and other associated structures and storage areas necessary for maintenance of the park.
Circulation Auto An early effort to increase use of the park and bring residents from downtown Houston to the area in the 1920s and 1930s by automobile has turned into one of its more difficult features. Memorial Drive serves not only as a means of access to the park, but as a throughway for residents living west of the park working in areas in the downtown area to the east. A wide, spacious boulevard originally designed to attract Sunday drivers to the “country” has turned into a treacherous barrier that divides the park in two. Bisecting the park from east to west right in the middle of the park, drivers race to their destinations, making crossing the boulevard very difficult at any point in the day. While posted speed limits could keep traffic at a somewhat leisurely pace…they are rarely observed. The original Hare & Hare plan for the park did include several connecting loops and streets, their plan for roads kept all of 113
them at the same level of hierarchy, with no single dominant road. In 1925, they could not have envisioned the growth of Houston to the west of the park, and the use of the major automobile artery through the park used as a means to get to work in the morning and return home in the evening. All of their roads were smaller scale, low-speed, roads designed for leisurely driving and observing nature from the newest form of transportation â€“ the car. With the expansion of Memorial Drive over the years, traffic has increased and the nature of a suburban park roadway no longer exists. The later connection to Woodway Drive has only served to increase traffic on Memorial Drive, adding to the congestion that already existed on this overused artery. The long loop road to the north of Memorial Drive was part of the original Hare & Hare plan and serves to provide access to those portions of the park where there is the heaviest use â€“ the golf course and the other recreation areas concentrated in the northeast corner of the park. Pedestrian Pedestrian circulation in Memorial Park varies depending on whether the visitor is using the trails, the Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail, one of the timing tracks, accessing one of the many park amenities, or walking in from the east in an adjoining neighborhood. Probably, most visitors drive to the site, park, and then partake of the particular activity that they desire. Most active recreation areas are encircled by a sidewalk system that takes the visitor from parking to the building or area that is being visited. On the golf course, open fairways allow the golf enthusiast to move around the site as he needs to in order to place his next shot. The Seymour-Lieberman Exer-Trail is a wide walkway covered in decomposed granite with no discernible edging. At the arboretum, many areas are accessed by elevated walkways constructed of wood.
Vegetation Vegetation in the park is composed of a very wide range between native woodlands and non-native heavily ornamented areas adjoining the golf course and along major roadways. The tree canopy has suffered two devastating blows in the last decade â€“ Hurricane Ike in 2008, and the multi-year drought that began in 2010. Remaining trees are separated by large open space, and the shrub layer now exposed to sunlight has begun to dominate the ground plain. This shrub layer forms a thicket of Ilex vomitoria, other native small trees, and large numbers of invasives. 114
The tree canopy is primarily pines and oaks fairly evenly distributed in the non-developed and programmed areas of the park. The site was used as ranch land in the nineteenth century and was then logged after that. The construction of Camp Logan saved the major existing trees in 1917, but there is little evidence that those trees still remain on the site. The appearance is of regenerated landscape within the last 75 years, with no dominant, centuries-old trees.
Buildings and structures The buildings and structures in Memorial Park are an accumulation of assorted architecture that has been constructed since the WPA-era work in the park in the 1930s. There are buildings from almost each decade for the past 90 years that the park has operated. Most buildings are situated for proximity to associated education and recreation. The oldest building within park property is the small, bungalow-style structure that formerly housed the Memorial Park Conservancy and other associated offices. Adjacent to this is the collection of greenhouses and maintenance sheds. The newest building on park grounds is the Memorial Park Running Trail Center (2014). This is the new home of the Memorial Park Conservancy, a police precinct of the Houston Police Department, showers and lockers, and a reception hall/meeting room. The golf course club-house was constructed in 1995, at the same time that the golf course was renovated. Other significant buildings within the park are the tennis center, swimming center, and Arboretum buildings.
Views and vistas The site has three interesting types of views or vistas that are very different: the natural views along Buffalo Bayou up and down the bayou, the long right-of-ways along the railroad and electrical pylons, and the constructed views associated with the golf course. Obviously, each of these categories has a very different feeling and the visitor experience within each is quite different.
Constructed water features Golf course lakes and water hazards are the primary constructed water features at Memorial Park. These add both to the beauty of the golf course and change the difficulty of the fairways adjacent to them. The other constructed water features on the site are at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
and provide habitat for plant communities and for wildlife. There are no grand, ceremonial water features at Memorial Park like large display fountains, rills, or other lakes simply for visitor enjoyment.
Small-scale features Small-scale features on the city are an accumulation of furniture â€“ both site and pedestrian that have been installed since the WPA period in the 1930s to the present. There is no unifying park design of these elements, and the appearance changes as the period of purchase/installation advances and covers a wide range of design styles.
Summary of Existing Conditions The existing condition of Memorial Park is of a large land-holding, connected by its wooded canopy â€“ although in a very deteriorated state â€“ and interwoven by the various active and passive recreation venues that have been constructed over 80 years beginning in the 1930s. The overall composition of a City Beautiful, picturesque landscape is still visible in the automobile circulation pattern for the park, and the pedestrian and equestrian path and bridle trail system.
Chapter 4: Memorial Park Significance Evaluating Significance Cultural landscapes are created through quite different processes than designed buildings, and from many designed landscapes, for that matter. “Cultural landscapes are the result of consecutive reorganization of the land in order to adapt its use and spatial structure better to the changing societal demands” (Antrop, 24). In the case of a historic park, the process of the landscape’s evolution typically begins with master planning (under the best of circumstances), implementation of the plan by public works personnel or private contractor, alteration over time by management and maintenance personnel, and occasional additions by committee, well-intended park administrators, or horticulturists. The process of cultural landscape-making has sometimes been likened to the process of layering that occurs in geologic deposition; the resultant landscape has been compared to a palimpsest, a manuscript that has been overwritten, and yet with earlier text still legible through more recent layers. For many cultural landscape projects, it is important to gain listing on the National Register of Historic Places in order to use the designation to bring prominence to the site, to secure funding, or to ensure that the landscape’s integrity is not diminished, at least by federally funded actions. In the process of determining whether a property is eligible for National Register listing, the determination of significance is a critical step, using precise definitions and criteria. The following discussion of significance will look at the Memorial Park landscape from several perspectives, including National Register criteria. Other, broader ways of evaluating significance will also be explored. National Register Criteria Though a landscape such as Memorial Park is the result of several generations of administration, major changes in the history of American recreation, and substantial changes caused by the dynamics of natural systems (vegetative growth and decline, extreme weather events, etc.), the National Register standards for evaluating significance for cultural landscapes, as defined by the Historic Preservation Act of 1966, are the same as those used for a building designed by an architect, or a garden designed and built at one time. The “fit” of these criteria is less than ideal, but still sets a standard for evaluation.
Significance, generally speaking, refers to “the meaning or value ascribed to a structure, landscape, object, or site” (Page, 137). The rule in determining significance for any cultural resource, including cultural landscapes, is that a property must possess significance in at least one of the four aspects of cultural heritage when evaluated within its historic context:
A. Properties associated with events that have made significant contributions to the broad patterns of history;
B. Properties associated with the lives of persons significant in the past; C. Properties embodying the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction possessing high artistic values, or representing a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction;
D. Properties that have yielded or are likely to yield information important to prehistory or history. (National Register Bulletin 15) “The Criteria describe how properties are significant for their association with important events or persons, for their importance in design or construction, or for their information potential” (http://www.nps.gov/Nr/publications/bulletins/nrb15/nrb15_6.html). This value may range from historic to cultural to archaeological, depending on whether the landscape was the venue of an important event, or a place that generations of people visited as a meaningful part of their daily lives, or an archaeological site with the potential to provide additional historical information. When working within the National Register framework, “a property must not only be shown to be significant using the National Register criteria, but it also must have integrity. Integrity is “(1) The authenticity of a cultural landscape’s historic identity, evidenced by the survival of physical characteristics that existed during its historic or prehistoric period. (2) The extent to which a cultural landscape retains its historic appearance” (Page, 137). Put more succinctly, integrity refers to “the ability of a property to convey its significance…. The evaluation of integrity is sometimes a subjective judgment, but it must always be grounded in an understanding of a property's physical features and how they relate to its significance” (http://www.nps.gov/nr/publications/bulletins/nrb15/nrb15_8.htm). In the analysis of the Memorial Park landscape, we will see that although there are many ways in which the property is significant, there has been a loss of integrity in some of these significant aspects of the park’s history, thus preventing a listing based upon these particular guidelines. Using the standards set forth by the Secretary of the Interior, Memorial Park qualifies as significant under Criterion C, “Properties embodying the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction possessing high artistic values, or representing a significant and distinguishable entity 118
whose components may lack individual distinction; and Criterion D, “Properties that have yielded or are likely to yield information important to prehistory or history” (National Register Bulletin, 15).
Criterion C. Properties embodying the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction possessing high artistic values, or representing a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction. Memorial Park is significant because it embodies the distinctive characteristics of the American picturesque urban park, as best defined by the example of New York’s 1858 Central Park, and represents the work of the landscape architectural firm Hare & Hare and its legacy of park and parkway building in the United States during the Progressive Era. Through the involvement of planner Arthur Comey and the Hare & Hare partnership, the park was largely shaped by professionals who were trained in the tradition and philosophy of the Olmsted legacy. Olmsted and his sons John Charles and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., designed urban spaces where active and passive recreation, “were to be enjoyed in enhanced parklands where ‘sequestered and limitless natural scenery’ could have a ‘poetic and tranquilizing influence’ on an urban populace otherwise surrounded by brick and steel, cement and fumes” (http://www.olmstedparks.org/our-parks/, accessed 3/6/15). The starting point for these designs was always the natural scenery and character of the landscape, a principle that grounded their work and that of his followers in sense of place, and came to define the art of landscape architecture. Through all the designs that Olmsted created there runs one dominating and consistent conception. He always insisted on the subordination of details to an overall composition whose strongest and fullest effect was to act unconsciously on those who viewed it. He vigilantly guarded against distracting elements that would intrude on the consciousness of the observer. In the process, he simplified the scene, clearing and planting to clarify the "leading motive" of the natural site and heighten the effect of a particular quality of nature. He often challenged the fashions and preconceptions of his day and encountered the opposition of those who found his style too rough and unkempt. He persisted, however, and adapted the old principles of English landscape gardening to American conditions, while at the same time developing his own theory of the unconscious influence of scenery. The result was a series of designs that combined richness and wildness of planting with unified composition in a way never equaled in the history of landscape design. (Charles E. Beveridge, Twenty-fifth Anniversary issue of Nineteenth Century, the journal of the Victorian Society in America,Volume 20, no. 2, pp. 32-37, Fall 2000) (http://www.olmsted.org/the-olmsted-legacy/olmsted-theory-anddesign-principles/olmsted-his-essential-theory) Memorial Park, as a park of over 1,400 acres (Central Park is 843 acres), is one of the largest of the municipal parks built during the period between the two world wars, yet following the stylistic precepts of Olmstedian parks. Although the iconic Central Park was developed more than seventy-five years 119
earlier, all of these American picturesque parks shared the purpose of creating green sanctuaries where people could escape the crowding and unhealthy conditions of the city and engage in relaxation, play, and meditation that focused on natural scenery. The parks were places to breathe fresh air, and to be reminded of the kinds of endemic landscapes that characterized the regional scenery. During the last half of the nineteenth century, the rise of industrialism in American cities resulted in the mass migration of many rural families and immigrants to urban centers where they sought a better way of life. For the working class, what they found instead was severe over-crowding, unhealthy housing conditions, unsanitary public works, and disease. The successful Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the City Beautiful Movement that grew out of it, ushered in a new era in civic leadership. Charles Mulford Robinson, a young journalist from Rochester, NY, began writing about the Exposition, and the design that would change city planning forever. His first book was entitled Modern Civic Art, or the City Made Beautiful (1903). This book created a movement within city planning and the landscape architecture community, as they took on an increasing role in overall city planning. Robinson writes: Nothing, indeed has been more remarkable than the growth of the “civic improvement” movement during the last few years…upwards of twelve hundred local “improvement” societies in the United States alone are now recorded.... The best phase of the movement is not, however, its extent, nor even its vigour and growing efficiency, but the dependence it puts on the ideal. By selecting here and selecting there, the dreamed “City Beautiful” becomes a reality, is made a tangible goal (Robinson, iii-iv, in Newton, 415). Newton describes this spread of planning and some of its important practitioners: “In 1903 John Nolen began in Cambridge, Massachusetts, what would soon become his nationwide city planning practice; soon thereafter came Arthur A. Shurtleff (later Shurcliff) and Henry Vincent Hubbard in Boston, and Sid J. Hare with his son, S. Herbert Hare, in Kansas City” (Newton, 416). Newton also writes about the growing awareness of city planning – younger associates of Nolen in Cambridge such as Justin R. Hartzog, and other newcomers on the scene, such as Arthur C. Comey added to the growing list of designers who espoused City Beautiful principles in their work throughout the country (Newton, 424). The early years of the twentieth century were a time of unprecedented economic growth and the concurrent expansion of large businesses. But this growth and expansion was accompanied by a national 120
mood of progressive reform that would make America a safer, healthier, and more democratic place for all. Parallel to this new concern for the plight of the average citizen was recognition that public works held the potential to make urban life better. Out of this arose a new approach to urban planning, and a movement to address the ails of the burgeoning urban working class. Municipal governments created public works departments dedicated to the development, planting, and maintenance of parks, roadways, and other public spaces. During this era, an awareness of the environment and the need for conservation also grew in importance. Houston was one of the American cities to benefit from this enlightened approach to urban growth. In the years before World War I, Houston would gain important cultural institutions including two public libraries, Rice University, the Houston Symphony, and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts (Fox, in Bradley, ix). The city’s leading citizens were well-traveled and had seen the results of such cultural projects on the East Coast and in the cities of the industrial Midwest, including the impact that public parks had on urban health. Houston’s Mayor Brashear’s appointment of a Park Committee in 1899, followed by his successor Horace Baldwin Rice’s appointment of a Board of Park Commissioners in 1910 signaled the recognition that parks should be the purview and the responsibility of city government and not private business ventures. It was during this early interest in the City Beautiful and beautification that the City of Houston hired Arthur Comey to develop the general study of the city’s park system, with the resulting growth in the acquisition of park land due in part to the report’s recommendations. The commission of the Comey Report of 1913 resulted in the creation of Hermann Park along with the prospect of a network of parks for Houston. The hiring of George Kessler for the park’s design in 1915 marked the beginning of Houston’s long association with America’s most celebrated designers of both landscape architecture and architecture, essentially through the patronage and largesse of Houston’s philanthropic community. Kessler’s untimely death in 1923 led Houston city fathers to the Kansas City landscape architecture firm Hare & Hare, who inherited most of Kessler’s clients; the firm continued Kessler’s work on Hermann Park. The 1924 acquisition of Memorial Park marked Houston’s commitment to developing Comey’s recommended network or system of parks, featuring bayous as a focus for these parks. The commission of Hare & Hare meant that the park would have a design that represented the latest approaches to shaping open space for active and passive recreation in the nation. 121
In 1913 Hare & Hare began work for Jesse Clyde Nichols on his development of the Country Club District in Kansas City. They continued this work for the next twenty years, responding to the ever increasing borders of the district by realigning streets, and responding to the topography and water courses that transect the property to enhance views, minimize engineering intrusions, and generally create a district that has maintained its character in the intervening years (Newton, 471-474). Newton writes about the success of the Country Club district in Kansas City as a marriage of an enlightened developer with an eminently qualified landscape architect: Enlightened business policy, however, important as it was and is, could not by itself have accounted for the physical excellence that made the Country Club District by general consensus one of the finest residential sections in the United States. Indeed, a clear indication of the enlightenment was the retention of Sid J. Hare and his son, S. Herbert Hare as landscape architects for all work from 1913 to the 1930s. During these years Herbert Hare, the designer of the firm, was personally responsible for the subdivision planning, for many of the detailed entrances, parks, and parklets, and for the site-planning of many of the individual properties. It was his hand that brought about in road layouts a degree of departure from the gridiron system and the greater recognition of topography. Hare was a widely respected leader of the profession, especially in the Midwest, for half a century until his passing in 1960; he was for years a trustee of the ASLA and served as its president from 1941 to 1945. (Newton, 474) The plannersâ€™ sensitivity to the existing natural features of the landscape and their desire to work with natural topography rather than engineered solutions became a trademark of the firmâ€™s work and would serve the Memorial Park land holdings well. As early advocates of the City Beautiful, Hare & Hare had already been working throughout the country on large-scale projects related to park and urban planning. In 1922, the Long-Bell Lumber Company of Kansas City owned a large, 3,000-acre tract of land in Longview, Washington, and hired the firm to transform the acreage into a living, workable city for the employees needed to produce dressed lumber in the Pacific Northwest on the Cowlitz River. The location was at the juncture of several railroads along a significant water body â€“ a similar setting as that later encountered when they were retained to develop the master plan for Memorial Park. Hare & Hare used George Kessler as planning consultant until his death (Newton, 480-482), cementing an association that perhaps led to their eventual work on Memorial Park. Hare & Hare was a recognized authority in city and park planning in the United States during the period 1910 to 1978. Their reputation, the longevity of the firm, and consequently the extensive inventory of extant works proves that they were instrumental in the form and structure that many cities developed 122
and maintained based on their original intent and involvement in the planning of their parks, civic spaces, schools, and private homes. In a current account of Hare & Hare’s work, The Cultural Landscape Foundation has written a summation of the firm’s work, with notable projects included in the description: Hare & Hare was founded in 1910 by father and son team, Sidney J. Hare and S. Herbert Hare, in Kansas City, Missouri…. Hare & Hare completed a number of significant public and private projects in the Kansas City area and throughout the United States. In the early years of the landscape architecture and planning disciplines, the firm was one of several pioneering firms who helped establish the profession of landscape architecture in the United States. The work of the firm ranged from cemeteries and parks, Sidney’s specialty, to large-scale planning projects, his son’s. Notable projects include the Park and Boulevard system and the master plan for the Country Club District in Kansas City, the preplanned city of Longview, Washington, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. (http://tclf.org/pioneer/hare-hare, accessed 01/07/2015). It is relevant that almost all of the work that was performed by Hare & Hare in Houston, which is extensive, was the result of the efforts of S. Herbert Hare, son of the original founder and graduate of the Harvard design program. To demonstrate the extensive influence that Hare & Hare had in Houston, it is important to provide a list of their work. The following list of parks was relayed by the firm to J. M. Nagle, Director of Public Works for the City of Houston in 1939: Hermann Park Athletic Field Rose Garden Memorial Park Arboretum Montie Beach Preliminary Plan Proctor Plaza Buffalo Bayou (1914-1949) Carter Park Charleton Park (Carter Park) Cherryhurst Park Cleveland Park Clinton Park Eastwood Park (George Washington Park) Elizabeth Baldwin Park (Denver Harbor Park) Emancipation Park Hennessey Park Hidalgo Park 123
Martha Hermann Square Mason Park MacGregor Park Milby Park Milroy Park Moody Park (Love Park) River Oaks Park Root Square Sam Houston Park Settegast Park Stude Park Texas Southern University University of Houston Woodland Park Civic Center Coliseum Fire Alarm Building At the same time, Nagle requested drawings for the following items related to Memorial Park. Some of these items were built while others were never completed. Build Arboretum according to Hare & Hare plan. Complete three ball fields. Bridle path east of picnic grounds. Widen existing bridle path. Improve picnic grounds. Run water to picnic grounds. Grading and drainage. Thin and trim trees (University of Missouri Archives, Hare & Hare Firm Archives, provided 2014). The city ordered all of this work in order to take advantage of WPA monies available from the federal government as part of relief efforts associated with the Great Depression. Certainly the picnic grounds evidence the influence of the WPA in the design of some of the older picnic tables and benches within the extensive loop. It is interesting to note that even at this early point in Memorial Park history, it was important to thin and trim trees in order to maintain the park-like character of the land, just as was done in 1917 during the construction of Camp Logan. As previously noted, this is a landscape that has been the site of a series of cultural uses, and its use as a large urban park is only the latest manifestation of its form and management.
Over the course of decades that Hare & Hare worked in Houston, they designed landscapes for many other parks, public buildings, subdivisions, and private residences in Houston. The ones listed below are in addition to the above list: Parks: Braeswood Cottage Grove Park De Zavala Park Dunbury Dunlavy Finnegan Fleming or Mason Park Fonde Park Garden Villas Park Halbert or Hartman Hennessy Park Hermann Zoo Hermann Park, Martha Square Idylwood Park Independence Heights Kelso Love Martha Fleming Montrose Oak Forest Park Pelham Park Reveille Park San Jacinto Park Scott Park Southcrest Park South Houston Park Southmayd Park Sunset Heights Park Triangular Park Woodlawn Park Yellowstone Park Public Buildings where Hare & Hare provided landscape architecture work after the 1939 list above are as follows: Carnegie Libraries City Hall Cuney Homes Jeff Davis Hospital Sims Bayou Sewage Treatment Plant Dowling St. 125
Northside Branch Library Park Place Branch Library Museum of Natural History Grand Central Station Municipal Airport Schools where Hare & Hare worked in Houston: River Oaks Elementary Lon Morris College Stonewall Jackson Junior High School Albert S. Johnston Junior High School Sydney Lanier Junior High School John H. Reagan Senior High School Subdivisions designed by Hare & Hare: Braes Heights Braeswood Buffalo Oaks Country Club Estates Crescent Island Forest Hill Garden Oaks Glenbrook Valley Golfcrest Homewoods or Woodside (in River Oaks) Lakeside Lee Lum Terrace Meyerland Saddlebrook or Saddlewood Shadyside Sylvan Beach Westmeyer Terrace Westmoreland Park Woodridge Blue Bell Hills Miscellanous work in Houston by Hare & Hare: Braes Bayou Buffalo Drive Freeway study Glenbrook Golf Course McKie and Kamrath Office
And lastly, private residences where the grounds were designed by Hare & Hare: Andrews, Jesse Brace and Carruth Carter, C.L. Christie, G.R. Crain, E.L. Cullinan, C.F. Detering, C.A. Dow, Milby Farish, W.S. Ford, A.C. Godwin, Herbert Grant, J.F. Hannah, David Harris, Paul Hight, F.M. Hogg, Ima and Will Holcomb, O.F. Howard, G.F. Potter, Hugh Proctor, R.C. Steele, B.W. Sterling, R.S. Stokes, M.B. Stude, H.W. Waine, W. Wier, R.W. Clearly, the firm was the “go-to” firm for landscape architecture, site planning, and civic design in Houston during the period when the city was experiencing rapid growth and maturing as a modern, designed metropolis. The overall plan of Memorial Park as designed by Hare & Hare has withstood the test of time. By concentrating the active forms of recreation on the northern side of the park, away from Buffalo Bayou, the plan was intended to protect the most environmentally sensitive portion of the land, while energizing the park’s northeast edge where it adjoins the neighborhoods that are most closely connected to the park, and thus benefit from proximity to park lands. The “proximate principle” is one that has driven park design for hundreds of years, and one that developers have used to entice buyers, to convince cities to invest in parks, and to provide maintenance for parks once they are constructed.11 11
The proximate principle states that the market value of properties located proximate to a park or open space (POS) are frequently higher than comparable properties located elsewhere. The higher value of these properties means that
Indeed, Frederick Law Olmsted observed the use of the proximate principle in Europe at Birkenhead in 1850. He visited England and recorded his thoughts in Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England: Walking a short distance up an avenue, we passed through another light iron gate into a thick, luxuriant, and diversified garden. Five minutes of admiration, and a few more spent studying the manner in which art had been employed to obtain from nature so much beauty, and I was ready to admit that in democratic America there was nothing to be thought of as comparable with this People’s Garden. Indeed, gardening had here reached a perfection that I had never before dreamed of. I cannot undertake to describe the effect of so much taste and skill as had evidently been employed; I will only tell you, that we passed by winding paths, over acres and acres, with a constant varying surface, where on all sides were growing every variety of shrubs and flowers, with more than natural grace, all set in borders of greenest, closest turf, and all kept with consummate neatness. (Olmsted, 1852, 62) Olmsted spent several extra days in Liverpool, visiting Birkenhead Park at various times of day, walking its paths and observing the activity that was occurring within the park boundaries. Many of the ideas displayed at Birkenhead, translated from the great English estate garden tradition, were further translated and amplified at Central Park in New York City. Olmsted saw that the developers of Birkenhead surrounded the park with housing developments that were oriented toward the park property, to maximize connections between the residents who were closest to the park that was intended for their use. These principles have been employed since that time as a vehicle for the creation and maintenance of parks, and form the core of modern development practices. What Olmsted did not envision (because he could not see the future), was the growth in active recreation and the advent of the automobile. Beginning at the turn of the twentieth century, active recreation grew in popularity, and the use of the automobile for leisure driving and for commuting exploded. Memorial Park was designed to accommodate both of these activities. Due to its large size, Memorial Park has been able to accommodate the huge increase in active recreation without substantially reducing or destroying its integrity. There are still large swaths of land that exist as forested, undeveloped land available for the average citizen to enjoy.
their owners pay higher property taxes. The increment of those taxes that is attributable to the POS may be used to retire bonds issued to acquire, develop or renovate it. (Crompton, John L. 2007. “The Impact of Parks and Open Spaces on Property Values.” (California Park and Recreation Society, Winter 2007, Vol. 63, No. 1, p.32). For more by Crompton, see “The genesis of the Proximate Principle in the development of urban parks in England. Annals of Leisure Research, 26(2)213-234.
Statement of significance Memorial Park is a representative example of park planning and design during the first half of the twentieth century and of the distinctive ways in which the country’s most important municipal parklands have been managed over time. Its design shares in the lineage of the Olmsted legacy, and is a representative example of the important planning and design work that Hare & Hare produced in twentieth century Houston.
Criterion D. Properties that have yielded or are likely to yield information important to prehistory or history. The most common type of site considered eligible using Criterion D is an archaeological site. This is the case for Memorial Park and the applicability of Criterion D. Memorial Park has had a considerable amount of archaeological study and some exploration; some areas have been identified as potentially valuable for archaeological information. In actuality, the entire Memorial Park site has been used by humans for several generations, and the entire park was once part of Camp Logan. Because of the large size of the park, thorough archaeological exploration is not feasible and the results would not warrant the expense. Parts of the park have been disturbed over time much more so than others, jeopardizing the potential to yield subsurface evidence. Because of this, previous work (reviewed below) has been used to delimit the parts of the park that have been determined to be most important for archaeology. Roger Moore et.al.’s “Survey of Nine Land Units within Memorial Park,”1989 The first archaeological exploration was “An Archaeological Survey of Nine Land Units within Memorial Park in Houston (Harris County), Texas,” by Roger G. Moore, William E. Moore, and David S. Pettus, dated April, 1989. The nine parcels were studied because the City of Houston intended to have plans developed for the development of these units. These tracts comprise 365.3 acres or 26 percent of the park (Moore, 1).
Figure 59: Map showing the land units surveyed by Roger Moore, in 1988. (Moore, 6).
The survey done in November, 1988, found “No evidence of prehistoric occupation,”… and “the nine land units are in a low probability area for prehistoric site occurrence.” There was “no evidence of historic occupation of the Project Area pre-dating the First World War” (Moore, ii). As discussed earlier in this cultural landscape report, the site that became Memorial Park was not “virgin” land. Most recently before the park landscape layer, the entire park had been part of Camp Logan, the World War I training camp used for twenty months from 1917 to 1918. Eighty-four historical features were recorded in the survey, “most of which are believed to represent remains of Camp Logan” (Moore, ii). Evidence of the camp is present in the remains of roads, utilities, trenches, buildings, and structures. The most abundant category of camp related features observed in the field was building foundations. Several structure types were defined on the basis of size [A plan of the camp layout survives.]. The function of most of these types is uncertain; however patterned groupings of buildings were found to be associated with units comprising the infantry brigades. Through the synthesis of archival records and field observations we were able to identify areas where tent camping areas were located. (Moore, ii)
The entire camp was built of wood, with the only concrete used being “for wall footings for some buildings and for floors in the bathhouses built at the rear of the regimental camp areas” (Moore, 13). Once the camp was closed, as many of the materials as possible were dismantled to be recycled for use by the military. This explains why some of the only above-ground artifacts visible in the park today are concrete footings. The construction of Camp Logan was a “remarkable accomplishment considering the time available.” In four weeks, men were hired and organized into work gangs, materials were ordered and shipped, and more than 1,000 buildings were constructed along with the installation of utilities. Within two to three months, more than 30,000 men were living and training at Camp Logan.” The initial construction phase of the camp set a record for World War I camps (Moore, 13). Land unit N-4, 36.2 acres in the northern zone of the park, bounded on the west by the Southern Pacific Railroad and on the south by Memorial Drive, was the most productive unit in terms of recorded features, yielding 46 features. Based on archival records, this unit occupies “a major portion of the cantonment of the 65th Infantry Brigade” (Moore, 24). The types of features identified included footings, slabs, foundations, drains, ceramic sewer pipe, and foundation trenches. There was evidence of a trench that had been “excavated to salvage sewer pipe after the camp was abandoned” (Moore, 25). Land unit S-3, in the southern zone of the park, bounded on the north by Memorial Drive and on the west by the Southern Pacific Railroad, contained 26 historic features probably associated with Camp Logan, including a road, sewer pipes, building foundations, footings, and slabs. The other units did not produce any significant features and far fewer ones than the two previously described. Moore’s conclusions suggest that although no evidence of historic occupation prior to Camp Logan was identified within the Project Area, it is important to remember that “the region was thinly populated by homesteaders like the Reinermanns,” largely because the site is far to the west of the city’s nineteenth century boundaries (Moore, 30.) Several of the units, particularly N-4, are “expected to provide meaningful data concerning infantry training and layout of this training facility” (Moore, 30). Unit C-3 Is the only land unit that “preserves physical evidence of a Brigade Headquarters for the infantry units stationed at Camp Logan” (Moore, 31). Unit S-3 promises to “provide good data concerning the organization and layout of infantry brigades at World War I training facilities” (Moore, 31). Unit C-4, showing the presence of two camp roads, “should be valuable in future efforts to locate specific units in the southern area of Camp Logan” (Moore 31). 131
Moore’s report recommends “that the site be nominated for designation as a State Archaeological Landmark.” The report also concludes that “the site should be considered potentially eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.” Moore bases this judgment on the consideration of the broader patterns of American history, stating that “the active life of Camp Logan marks an ephemeral representation of an important turning point in our nation’s foreign relations,” as a “reflection of the emergence of the United States as a global power early in the 30th century. It is important to our cultural heritage that we retain sites which materially embody this irreversible turn from isolationism to interventionism” (Moore, 32). In summary, Figure 6 indicates those units that are considered “archaeologically sensitive areas,” and those areas that are “cleared for development.” Units designated for the former category are the following: N-4, C-3, and S-3. (Moore, Figure 6, 34).
Figure 60: Map showing Roger Moore's determination of potential archaeologically sensitive areas related to the Camp Logan occupation. (Moore, 34)
Wagner & Company’s “Archery Range Site,” 2009 The second study conducted in Memorial Park is recorded in the draft report of the “Archery Range Site,” by Janet Wagner, 2009. This study of 32 acres was conducted by Douglas H. Molineu in December 2008 for J. K. Wagner & Company, and commissioned by the Memorial Park Conservancy. The Archery Range has been closed to the public since the late 1980s. Closure was precipitated by complaints about errant arrows from guests of the new (at the time) hotels built on the west side of Buffalo Bayou. Located in the southwest corner of Memorial Park, “the site is basically a peninsula bounded on the west and south sides by Buffalo Bayou, on the north side by Woodway Drive, and on the east by a large spring-fed gully. The site is located on the James Wharton Survey. Archeological excavations were conducted to determine if any historic occupation sites or prehistoric remains were extant” (http://www.jkwhistory.com/casestudies.htm). It is not yet known to what extent Native Americans used the banks and waters of Buffalo Bayou for sustenance and transportation. It is probable that this important stream would have been of seasonal importance during pre-historic times. The first record of a Native American presence in the Archery Range dates to 1939. The prehistoric relics in the Archery Range site were first identified in 1939 by Marshall Black who conducted “several small excavations (two feet square x 18 inches deep) in reference to a “midden near by.” In 1988 Joan Few, affiliated with the Texas Archeological Society and the Houston Archeological Society, visited the site and recorded the elevation, latitude, longitude, registering site file No. 41HR617 with the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory in Austin in 1988. The artifacts recovered by Mr. Black were reported to have been given to Mr. Wayne Neyland in the late 1940s. The record noted dart points and knapping debitage from the Late Archaic time. (Wagner, 1-2 - 1-3). Supposedly, the artifacts were contributed to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, but calls by STA to the museum did not turn up any record of the artifacts. The exact location of the site associated with 41HR617 is not available to the public. If an entity plans construction on the site, a request to the Texas Historical Commission, Office of the State Historic Preservation Officer, is required to begin work. Of particular interest in the findings of this study is evidence related to historic activities on the site predating Camp Logan. During Houston’s early development, lands along Buffalo Bayou beyond the city
limits were attractive for manufacturing interests. Augustus Koch’s 1873 map of Houston shows a bayou with factories along its banks and rowboats, tugs, sail boats, and two river boats plying its waters (http://www.birdseyeviews.org/zoom.php?city=Houston&year=1873). Archival research conducted by Janet K. Wagner & Company, Inc. revealed previous land uses for the site as the Houston Brick Works, and charcoal manufacturing and timber harvest. Brick operations sprung up along the bayou at “locations shown to have outcrops of hard red clay” (Wagner, 5-2). The report documents “an early brick kiln operation in the Archery Range in the center western area just downstream of the first meander below the Post Oak crossing (Woodway)” (Wagner, 5-2). Apparently the excavation of the clay created a large and deep dry gully that remains on the site (Wagner, 5-2). The fertile lands along the bayou’s banks, as well as numerous springs for irrigation attracted horticulturists and market gardeners anxious to serve the need of Houston residents for fresh produce and nursery stock. “Horticultural historian U. P. Hedrick notes that by 1839, four German naturalists of national renown in botanical literature—Ernst, Linheimer, Fendler, and Ervendbery—had market gardens near Houston” (Turner and Wilson, 113). Several of these market-gardeners were able to purchase lots along Buffalo Bayou. “In 1838 Phineas Jencks Mahan acquired lot 6 on the south side of the bayou and established a vegetable garden.” East of Mahan’s garden was that run by the Valentine brothers who grew peaches, figs, and wild grapes (Turner and Wilson, 114). But produce was not listed among the items that Mahan sold in 1841, advertising garden and flower seeds, trees, grape vines, and tools for sale, and stating that he “‘would accept produce for exchange for seeds.’” (Wagner, 6-4) The Wagner report also documents archival evidence for the Carl Julius Kolbe orchard and farm “that included the present Archery Range south of Woodway Drive as well as the cabins, orchard, two springs, and plant nursery located there” (Wagner, 6-11). In 1888, after 42 years of ownership, his property was sold to a Houston grocer, Frederick Minster (Wagner, 6-11). This 25-acre orchard and nursery provided a grocery store and stall at Market Square in the center of downtown with “fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs for Sixth Ward customers” (Wagner, 6-11). In 1906, the owner of the former Minster property “executed a timber deed to Charles F. Wolter for timber cutting and manufacturing of charcoal on the premises.” The deed prohibited the cutting of 25 or more oak trees that were larger than 25 inches in diameter. Wagner reports that several large trees extant on the Archery Range could possibly be these protected trees, but that this would need to be verified by a forester (Wagner, 6-12). The widow of the next owner of the property, Joseph M. L. Sonnet 134
of Arcadia, Louisiana, eventually sold the parcel, “40 acres, more or less” to Varner Realty Company in 1924 (Wagner, 6-12). In conclusion, Wagner determines that: “The Archery Range is eligible as an official State Archeological Landmark at present due to the discovery of a large brick kiln complex, charcoal manufacturing and an antebellum market garden, plant nursery, and orchard dating from the 1840s through the 1930s” (Wagner, 1-3). However, no further action following the draft report was taken by the Memorial Park Conservancy or the City of Houston to designate the Archery Range as a State Archeological Landmark. It is worth noting that the Archery Range could be very interesting and educational to interpret for visitors. As an interpretive program is developed for the park based on the master plan, this documentation of Buffalo Bayou as the locus for the development of Houston’s industrial story (brick kiln complex), as well as the origins of market gardening and the nursery industry in the area, adds important dimensions to the story of the landscape’s layers. State Archaeological Landmark (SAL) Nomination, 2013 The final document relevant to archaeological remains in Memorial Park is the City of Houston’s application for State Archaeological Nomination as an Archaeological Site to the Texas Historical Commission, Archaeology Division. Application was made during the winter of 2013 to designate three separate areas comprising a total of 113.4 acres as State Archaeological Landmarks. The map that accompanies the nomination locates the three areas. Include map in nomination Areas 1 and 2 roughly correspond to units N-4 and S-3 of Moore’s 1989 survey of nine units. Area 3, just north of Buffalo Bayou in the SE corner of the park, was not surveyed in Moore’s study. The nomination was discussed at the quarterly meeting of the Texas Historical Commission and the Antiquities Advisory Board on January 24, 2013. Final designation by the Texas Historical Commission occurred on April 26th, 2013. According to statute, any construction occurring within the zones designated as SALs must be approved by the Texas Historical Commission before work commences. The Commission is given two working days from notification to respond. If no response is received, work may begin within the areas designated as SALs.
Other ways of evaluating significance The National Register program and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards are necessary and useful for establishing norms of preservation practice across the country, particularly when there are federal funds involved. These standards also inevitably lead to planning decisions about how a property ought to be “treated,” that is, which of the four designated levels of intervention is most appropriate for a particular set of circumstances. But significance can be viewed in so many other ways that affect the condition and the experience of a cultural landscape. Landscape is not only a physical entity; it also has an intellectual content. This is a subject that cultural geographers use research to investigate. Designers need to understand this perspective of landscape experience in order to capture a site’s potential to become a more meaningful place. Memories, myths, and ideas relating to the land are linked both to the culture and to the land as a physical entity. The more this intellectual content is explored, the richer the options for designers making decisions about the way the landscape should be approached in design. With a landscape as varied as Memorial Park, no single meaning can apply to all of the park’s sub-areas equally well. One way to consider the park’s future, is to begin with the importance of language, the way that elements in the park are named, and whether the language is appropriate, either as an accurate descriptor of the element it describes, or as a remnant of a historic meaning that an element had in the past and has lost. The Archery Range, for example, is no longer used as such, but because that piece of property still retains the historic name, the park user realizes that there was a time that the park was in such a rural setting that the idea of safety in shooting arrows was not a concern. As the park is altered through the implementation of a master plan, the naming of the new additions to the landscape are important in conveying not just the activity that a space accommodates, but potentially something more, whether a poetic sense or aesthetic one. Perhaps the most important name of all is the park’s name—memorial. The name was selected to commemorate a very specific time and place and group of people. This meaning is probably lost on many of the Houston population who use the park today, unless they pass a historic marker explaining the heritage of Camp Logan on the site. Cultural landscapes can become so crowded with markers of commemoration that they lose their spatial sense and become more of a museum. And yet the concept of a memorial can be extended into today’s world and the values of Houston’s twenty-first century
residents explored through investigating the idea of what might be a memorial layer added to the park’s landscape. The study of the condition of the current Memorial Park landscape, how it evolved into that condition, and what it might have been like before being altered by generations of people and animals, both indigenous and foreign, holds the potential to engage park users as a narrative that could interpret the park to visitors. If users in public spaces become more articulate about and sensitive to the dynamic processes—cultural and natural—that have shaped this land, their experience of the place is heightened, and their sense of stewardship by virtue of their citizenship becomes activated. The interpretation cannot be a simple “moral tale” about the failure of park managers to properly intervene when the park’s elements began to be degraded from either over-use or use for the wrong purpose. The storyline needs to focus on the processes, which are amazing once understood. For example, the way that water moves throughout the landscape after a major storm holds the potential to illustrate the differences between soil types on the site, the way that topography influences runoff, the filtering advantages that certain kinds of vegetation provide, etc. Most of the processes are taken for granted by most of the population. The park landscape is the setting for many special events, such as the trail rides during rodeo season. These parades, festivals, family milestone celebrations, and races are ephemeral happenings that leave no physical trace in the landscape. But for all who participate or witness, the landscape takes on the image and memory of these fleeting transformations. In summary, the significance of the cultural landscape of Memorial Park goes far beyond its authorship as a plan, and its archaeology as subsurface artifacts. It holds important meaning to each of the visitors who experience the place, and that meaning builds with time, whether one visits consistently for active recreation, or seasonally for observing nature. The park symbolizes the spirit of the Houston citizenry, the frontier character of the early landscape character of the West, the commitment to public space as a municipal priority by the city fathers, and so much more. Harnessing and exploiting these meanings offers the potential to heighten the experience of each person using the park.
Statement of significance Based upon the documentation of the archaeological reports, the designated and proposed areas SALs, including the Archery range, are eligible for listing on the National Register. Both development along 137
Buffalo Bayou related to industry, and to the beginnings of the market gardening and nursery businesses; as well as the Camp Logan layer of history are eligible because they represent events related to the broad patterns of history. The Archery Range events are of regional significance, linked to the rise of Houston as an important regional center in the nineteenth century. The Camp Logan sites are of national significance, tied to the entry of the United States into World War I.
Chapter 5: Memorial Park Integrity In order to assess the degree of integrity that Memorial Park possesses, it is necessary to determine how much of the physical fabric that still exists relates to the significance of the property. Integrity can be defined as “authenticity” or “wholeness.” When referring to a historic or cultural landscape, possessing integrity means retaining enough original material and sense of the intended visual effect that the landscape still “reads” as a genuine part of the time period from which it originated or which establishes its significance. This question is not as straight forward when dealing with a cultural landscape with several generations of recreational use. The flexibility of Memorial Park plans made it possible for designers to allow the landscape to accommodate changes in recreational patterns over time without destroying the integrity of significant portions of the site. Although there have been some losses of significant elements over the years as a result of deterioration or attrition, the overall picturesque quality of the landscape survives intact as one of America’s largest urban parks, and one of the best surviving large park landscapes designed as a Picturesque/City Beautiful park with an extensive recreational overlay.
Criterion C. The Picturesque/City Beautiful Landscape of Memorial Park Beginning with the Hare & Hare plan of 1925, the initial designs for the landscape of Memorial Park have primarily consisted of picturesque treatments, both for the pedestrian and the motorist. Curving paths, roads, and water courses create the sinuous, flowing lines of the picturesque, punctuated by groupings of trees and shrubbery. The original Hare & Hare plan is the basis for determining integrity under Criterion C. While Memorial Park is a complex, multi-layered property that has figured prominently in the City of Houston’s rapid urbanization – a city touted for this growth – the park has remained an oasis of sorts in the middle of the city. The size of the land-holding has ensured that it maintains the park-like nature that was originally intended by Varner Realty, the Hoggs, the former city fathers who purchased the land, and the many people who have devoted their lives to protecting the park property. While the overall Hare & Hare plan was the basis for the establishment of the major road networks, the general location of the golf course, and walking paths within the park, there was little work done in the decade following the creation of the park, so the potential construction projects for Hare & Hare and
other landscape architects and planners of the period is missing as contributing elements in the original design. The entrance feature shown on the Hare & Hare plan was deemed too showy, complicated, and expensive, and this important gateway into the park was never constructed. Where the Hare & Hare plan has suffered most is two distinct areas, one a cluster arrangement and one a linear feature. The first major intrusion in the Hare & Hare plan happened in the decade following the creation of the park, when the nation and world were struggling with one of the largest economic crises in modern history, the Great Depression. It was during this time that governments sought large public works projects that would employ hundreds and sometimes thousands of workers to provide them with sustenance-level wages while the economy recovered from the turmoil and unemployment caused by the collapse of the stock market and the banking system. During this time, a large picnic loop was installed on the southern side of Memorial Park, in the area that had been designated for more passive trails and bridle paths. Since the time when the large picnic loop was constructed, the furnishings in the loop, when deteriorated, have been replaced with modern aluminum, wood, and concrete furniture that detracts from the overall appearance of this WPA layer. Additionally, the associated buildings, comfort stations, and other miscellaneous features are modern, and reduce the integrity of the overall appearance of the picnic loop as a WPA layer within the larger park landscape. The other major feature which reduces integrity is Memorial Drive. Envisioned as a two-lane road through the park with connecting roads and loops at various locations along each side, Memorial Drive has evolved into a large boulevard with medians, wide swaths of open space on both sides of the drive, and heavy, commuter traffic through the park â€“ especially in the morning and evening when business workers access the park to commute to jobs in downtown Houston from the suburbs to the west of the park. Overall, the general layout of the Hare & Hare plan still exists as a contributing element of the park design and retains integrity at a macro level. While the park does retain this overall integrity in initial design, the two major changes in the park reduce its level of importance as a significant, City Beautiful/Picturesque design, and reduce the level to one of local or possibly state significance. There are ways to deal with these intrusions that are discussed in the recommendations chapter.
Criterion D. Properties that have yielded or are likely to yield information important to prehistory or history. The only portions of the Memorial Park site currently protected as State Archeological Landmarks under the auspices of the Texas Historical Commission are the three land units associated with Camp Logan and detailed on the map included in this chapter. The areas where there were the greatest densities of activity are associated with these three units, (1, 2, & 3). Unit 1 was the portion of former Camp Logan which now lies between the railroad/utility right-ofway and West Memorial Loop Drive. This was the portion of the camp that consisted of raised tents and other associated temporary structures. The buildings and infrastructure were removed following the closing of Camp Logan in 1919. Maps and photographs document this area and show the overall layout and appearance of the camp during its operation. Unit 2 was the area of Camp Logan where foundations were poured for shower facilities for soldier trainees. The concrete foundations appear to be the only remains not removed by contractors following the closure of the camp. As in Unit 1, mapping and photographs show this area and give general guidance on its appearance at the time. Unit 3 was the area of Camp Logan where the hospital was located. The hospital was first used for convalescing soldiers and then became a unit of the Houston public health system for a short period of time. The building and infrastructure were later removed. There is currently a trail system that traverses this area, but little other park activities occur here. These three units, designated as State Archaeological Landmarks, are significant in the history of Houston and the state of Texas. The degree to which they retain integrity is unknown at this time. They are protected by the Texas Historical Commission and work conducted to build new park amenities will have to comply with the applicable regulations and laws of the Commission. The â€œArchery Range Siteâ€? donated by the Weiss family in the 1940s is potentially the most interesting area in Memorial Park from an archaeological perspective. The historic midden associated with the brick kiln and charcoal making business, the antebellum nursery, the possible location of Native American artifacts discovered by Marshall Black and protected under file 41HR617, are all in this area. It is not known how much the construction of the archery range disturbed the site but this portion of Memorial
Park could potentially yield the most information about prehistory and the historic period in Houston. The integrity of this site is unknown as a complete archaeological survey has not been conducted here.
Chapter 6: Recommendations The goal in researching a cultural landscape’s evolution and determining its significance is to ultimately be able to propose a preservation strategy that is most appropriate for the landscape and its existing conditions. As mentioned in the beginning of this report, the National Park Service uses four basic categories of treatment: preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction. The treatment that is best suited for Memorial Park is rehabilitation, which “acknowledges the need to alter or add to a cultural landscape to meet continuing or new uses while retaining the landscape’s historic character.” Essentially, this is the approach that has been used in managing the park over the course of its ninety-year life, except that in certain cases, the consideration of the landscape’s historic character has perhaps not been factored into decision-making. Certainly the size and scale of the current Memorial Drive did not place a high priority on the park’s character. It has only been in the past forty or so years that the topic of treating landscapes as historic resources has been brought into mainstream preservation; it was even later that parks of the twentieth century began to be considered valuable as historic and cultural resources. The National Association for Olmsted Parks (http://www.olmsted.org/naop-about/about) was founded in 1980 to address threats to the fabric and, in some cases, the survival of the parks created by the Olmsted firm. The work of this group over the years contributed much to a national awareness of the importance of other municipal parks as a significant sector of America’s public landscape. Rehabilitation of overall park landscape The first consideration in light of the significance of the Hare & Hare plan is to identify portions of the park where the spirit of the plan has been lost or diminished, and to consider interventions that would restore that initial intent. The overall spatial vocabulary that characterizes Hare & Hare’s plan is a carefully modulated interplay of canopied linear tree plantings mixed with large, open sunny areas. The character of this picturesque composition is arranged along a series of pastoral paths for visitors using all modes of transportation—pedestrian, bike, horseback, and car. The orientation and siting of Memorial Drive is approximately in the position of the original plan’s entry and central roadway. The experience prescribed by the plan calls for movement on this road to vary between being completely under tree canopy to emerging into small patches of light initially, and once the heart of the park is reached (after crossing the railway ROW) the road becomes more open, with 143
only occasional moments of enclosure from tree canopy. Even though Memorial Drive is far wider and the traffic moves faster than the plan intended, the possibility of narrowing the drivers’ and pedestrians’ perception of its scale back by pulling high and broad tree canopy close to the outside lanes, and in the median (where it exists) would go a long way towards creating a more appealing drive. More extreme methods of reducing the impacts of Memorial Drive—visual, acoustical, and safety – whether through tunnels, traffic-calming, land bridges, tolls, or actually returning the artery to two lanes, would go even further to restoring or rehabilitating the character of the park’s center to its original intent. The monumental entry shown on the Hare & Hare plan, although never built, was a key element in the scheme. The formality and classicism of the proposed entry boulevard, grand entry gates, and the circular loop around an ornamental garden was a nod to the City Beautiful aesthetic, and an announcement to the visitor that he was entering a different kind of place. The fact that the feature combined both architectural and gardenesque elements made it a fitting transition piece from the urban fabric to the pastoral beyond. Such monumental gates had been integral parts of the entry experience for both Central and Prospect Parks, and the Memorial Park plan adapts the motif to the scale of automotive traffic. The recommendation is not to construct the unbuilt portion of the plan, but rather to design an entry transitional piece that uses the language of contemporary design while accomplishing the purpose for which the formal entrance was intended. Olmsted knew that by marking the entry to his version of natural scenery, he had essentially put a frame around the park to communicate that this was a special place, a place apart from the city, a place where natural scenery had been created to help transport the visitor to a picturesque place where it would be possible to clear the mind and body of the city, and communicate in an individual way with nature. By placing a similar frame around Memorial Park, the visitor will not simply think, “Here is a large chunk of undeveloped land, grown into either meadow or woods but not manicured and ornamented, but here is an intentionally shaped and special place for people to recreate in whatever way they like.” Certainly the areas that were initially left “wild” and have more recently been decimated by the effects of hurricane and drought are logical areas for vegetative regeneration guided by a carefully regulated management regime. The rehabilitation of the ecology of the site (in as far as is possible) offers the opportunity to use best practices in sustainability, while expressing the range of ecological associations 144
that were indigenous to the siteâ€™s topography, hydrology, soil structure, and solar orientation. These interventions, some perhaps pilot projects in habitat restoration, hold the potential to interpret the interplay of natural and cultural systems, and model forms of land stewardship to those who use the park. There should be a comprehensive plan for interpreting the Memorial Park landscape that emphasizes natural-cultural processes, and the several layers of human occupation on the site. The design of the interpretive program should use interactive cues rather than didactic narrative to help park users explore the parkâ€™s range of significant places. Lastly, recognition of the parkâ€™s archeological features as work commences will be an important part of ongoing work. Application to the Texas Historical Commission through the formal channels in place will provide the opportunity for review, and possible archaeological research as park amenities are installed.
Mapping The following series of maps show cultural influence at Memorial Park based on discrete historical periods. These periods are listed below:
Predevelopment Era: before 1519. This period is also before recorded European contact.
Spanish Era: 1519 to 1820. Most of the Spanish influence was earlier. This was intermingled with occasional French contact and later in the period most contact from the South from Spain via Mexico.
Early Anglo Settlement: 1820 to 1917
Camp Logan/World War I period: 1917 to 1923
Memorial Park Development: 1923 to the present.
These periods could be adjusted as we learn more about the history of the site. For instance, “Early Anglo” settlement might be adjusted to 1836, to more closely fit with the political control of the area by the Mexican Government until the Battle of San Jacinto. 1836 also fits more closely with the arrival of the Allen Brothers from New York in Houston. There is evidence in census records of Anglo settlement dating to 1808 and before, so there is overlap that will need to be examined to determine cultural connections and influence.
Figure 61: (J. K. Wagner & Co. 1-2). It is reputed that amateur archaeologist Marshall Black recovered prehistoric artifacts in the Archery Range area. None have been discovered to date, and no Native American midden is in evidence.
Figure 62: There is very little evidence of Spanish influence in the Houston area during this period. Most early Spanish settlements were further inland around missions and along the Camino Real highway that was much further north in Texas.
Figure 63: The Post Oak Road Crossing is noted in Wagner & Company’s report of 2009. “Two ancient sandstone outcroppings occur in Buffalo Bayou that provides a rock ford between the Archery Range and the adjacent land. … The upper ford connected Post Oak Road from the north and east of Buffalo Bayou to the present Post Oak Lane.” (J. K. Wagner & Co., 1-1).
Figure 64: Camp Logan established on portions of the Reinermann Tract, an early family in the history of Houston who used the land primarily for cattle ranching.
Figure 65: Hogg family of Houston and others donate land for new park in honor of soldiers from World War I, whose training camp was previously located on the tract. The interstate highway system borders the park on the north and west.
Timeline 1685 La Salle establishes colony on Garcitas Creek after missing the mouth of the Mississippi River, the site where he initially desired to establish a colony for Louis XIV. (http://www.thc.state.tx.us/preserve/archeology/la-salle-archeology-projects), accessed 02/13/2014. 1686 Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle’s ship, La Belle sinks in Matagorda Bay while attempting to reach the settlement he founded on Garcitas Creek. (http://www.thc.state.tx.us/preserve/archeology/la-salle-archeology-projects), accessed 02/13/2014. 1687 La Salle assassinated in the Texas wilderness while leading an expedition north to French forts in the Great Lakes region. (http://www.thc.state.tx.us/preserve/archeology/la-salle-archeologyprojects), accessed 02/13/2014. 1689-1821 Spanish Colonial period in Texas consists of system of missions and presidios to spread Christianity and establish regional control. (http://texasourtexas.texaspbs.org/the-eras-oftexas/spanish-colonial, accessed 02/09/2015). 1761
Texas is essentially uninhabited by Anglo-Americans. (Sibley, 7).
1821 Texas becomes part of independent Mexico after end of Spanish rule. (http://texasourtexas.texaspbs.org/the-eras-of-texas/spanish-colonial, accessed 02/09/2015). 1824, July 20 John Austin receives grant for land from Mexico where Houston would later be located His wife inherits grant and later becomes Mrs. T. F. L. Parrott. (See 1836, Aug 26th below). 1826 A.C. Reynolds travels from the Northeast across the country, then down Buffalo Bayou to the Houston area. 1830, Dec. “Aerial became the first steamboat on Texas waters, traveling up Buffalo Bayou via Galveston Bay.” (National Park Service (NPS), 18). 1830s The first permanent German settlements in Texas date back to the early 1830's, and the upsurge in German immigration in the 1840's resulted in such towns as Fredericksburg and New Braunfels. By the mid 1850's, the populations of San Antonio, Houston, and Galveston were about onethird German. (http://www.ushistory.org/us/25f.asp, accessed 01/25/2015). 1831 A.C. Reynolds receives title to the land (a full league or 4,428 acres) south of Buffalo Bayou in the Memorial Park area. There he operated a sawmill and gristmill, and shipped logs downstream using the Bayou as his mode of transportation. He operated in this location until 1835, when he sold the land and left the area. (Emmott, 10). 1832
The Allen brothers arrive in Texas from New York. (Kirkland, 2).
Allen brothers settle in Nacogdoches. (Kirkland, 2).
1834 John Reinermann, his wife and sons Heinrich (Henry) and Johann (John, Jr.), sailed from Oldenburg, Germany in 1834. They transferred to the schooner Sabine from New Orleans and wrecked near Galveston Island on December 22, 1834. (Aulbach, 79). The Reinermanns were part of the German exodus brought on by the rise of English dominance in manufacturing and the nationalization of private property by the German government. 1835 John Reinermann dies leaving a log cabin, orchards, small fields, and family cemetery. (Emmott, 10). 1835 John Reinermann is buried in the family cemetery on their farm in what is now the Cottage Grove Subdivision. (Aulbach, 80; Emmott, Houston Chronicle, 08/04/1915). 1836, April 21st The Battle of San Jacinto, which was the confrontation between Santa Anna and the forces of Sam Houston. Established the Republic of Texas. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_San_Jacinto). 1836, Aug 26th Mrs. T. F. L. Parrott sells part of her grant to A. C. and J.K. Allen. (Looscan, 2). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrisburg,_Houston, accessed 01/23/2014. 1836 “From the moment of purchase in 1836, New York brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen imagined a great city rising on their 6,642-acre investment at the juncture of Buffalo and White Oak Bayous fifty miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico.” (Kirkland, 1-2). 1836 Survey work for an early map of Houston performed by Moses Lapham, surveyor, for Gail Borden Jr. and Thomas Henry Borden between October 2 and November 19, 1836. (Kirkland, 3). 1836, Aug 30 “We call the attention of our readers to the advertisement of the town of Houston, by Messrs, A.C. & J.K. Allen. … From all we can learn, the locatin [sic] they have selected possesses as many advantages as any other interior town in Texas, and on account of the easy access to Galveston and the facility in procuring timer, as well as its central position, this town, no doubt, will be a rival for the present seat of Government in Texas. (Borden) 1838, Feb. 21 Reinermann heirs receive title to the land grant they had been farming and pasturing. (Aulbach and Gorski, 2). 1839, October “Second Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar … packed up the government records and moved to Austin, then an outpost on the edge of Comanche country in the rugged hill country of Central Texas” (Kirkland, 4). 1840s During the 1840s, shortly after the establishment of the town of Houston, a road was established between Houston and Washington-on-the Brazos. The Washington road appears on the Jacob De Cordova Map of Texas of 1849. 1840
1,000 bales of cotton move through Houston. (McComb, 26)
1840 The state of Texas passed “…water laws concerning running streams….” Houston subsequently cracked down on pollution along Buffalo Bayou which caused the closure of most grist
mills and some sawmill operations. (Emmott, 11). Buffalo Bayou was the source of drinking water for many area residents, which resulted in this very progressive move by the state. 1840, Jan 28th Business leaders lobby the Third Congress of Texas for permission to charter a Houston Chamber of Commerce. (Kirkland, 4). 1840 (Kirkland, 4).
“Texas Congress empowers Houstonians to build and maintain public wharves.”
1841 “Houston City Council authorized the Port of Houston to monitor all facilities along Buffalo and White Oak Bayous to support efforts to improve access to the sea.” (Kirkland, 4-5). “Houston City Council established the Port of Houston and levied wharfage fees to help finance dredging and port improvements.” (NPS, 20). 1841
“City Council established the port at Allen’s Landing.” (NPS, 20).
“Two new sawmills and a brick establishment on the outskirts of town.” (McComb, 20).
14,000 bales of cotton move through Houston. (McComb, 26).
1846 “Surveyor Bringhurst mentions an ‘old field’ in the Archery Range during 1846 and the presence of a fence in 1848 in the same location.” (Wagner, 6-9). 1846, Apr 25 Beginning of the Mexican-American War. Would define the southern border of Texas as the Rio Grande and “…ceded to the United States the present-day states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, most of Arizona and Colorado, and part of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican%E2%80%93American_War, accessed 06/30/2014). 1847 “John Reinermann’s widow applied for a land grant from the State of Texas on the grounds that he qualified for the grant since he was an immigrant to the area before the Texas Revolution. A league and a labor of land were granted by the State of Texas to the heirs of John Reinermann on April 28, 1847. The 4,428 acres of the grant lie on the north side of Buffalo Bayou, west of and adjoining the John Austin two-league grant on which the City of Houston was established in 1836.” (Aulbach, 80). The western portion of this area would become Memorial Park. 1848, Feb. 2 The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo established the boundaries between the United States and Mexico and adds several present-day states to the Union. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican%E2%80%93American_War, accessed 06/30/2014). 1850 By 1850 there are more people of German birth or heritage in Texas than there were Mexican-Americans. (Almanac, 60). 1852 “From the July 8, 1852 seventy-five acre sale, Carl Julius Kolbe retained the balance of the 1846 – 100 acre purchase [25 acres] that included the present Archery Range south of Woodway Drive as well as the cabins, orchard, two springs, and plant nursery located there. (Wagner, 6-10 and 611). 1853 Paul Bremond and Thomas William House break ground for the Galveston & Red River Railway. (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/eqh09, accessed 01/30/2014). 154
38,923 bales of cotton move through Houston. (McComb, 26)
1855 Most of the grading for the Galveston & Red River Railway complete. (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/eqh09, accessed 01/30/2014). 1856, July 26 Galveston & Red River Railway. The laying of rails to Cypress City, TX, 25 miles northwest of downtown Houston is complete. In September, company was renamed Houston and Texas Central Railway Company (H & TC) (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/eqh09, accessed 01/30/2014). 1857
46,220 bales of cotton move through Houston. (McComb, 26).
115,854 bales of cotton move through Houston. (McComb, 26).
1860 Bertha Bethje, daughter of C.L. Bethje and third husband of Mrs. Reinermann, recounts that: “The big farm at the time had its own sawmill, cultivated fields, 300 cattle, and assortment of barnyard animals including fowls, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and calves.” (Emmott, 10). 1861, April 22 H & TC Railway: Eighty-one miles of rail line are complete to Millican, TX, which is between Navasota and College Station. No further construction ensued until after Civil War. (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/eqh09, accessed 01/30/2014). 1868
First streetcar service in Houston. Was a simple mule drawn car. (Slotboom, 4).
Gas lighting introduced in Houston. (McComb, 21).
1869 “The Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel Company initiated major dredging and widening of the bayou.” (NPS, 20). 1870s “Houston was the center for exporting cotton to textile mills in the northeastern United States and Great Britain.” (NPS, 20). 1873 H & TC Railway complete to Red River City, later Denison, TX. At this point, the rail line ties in with the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad, which connects to St. Louis, Missouri and the East Coast. (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/eqh09, accessed 01/30/2014). This is the point at which Houston joined the national railroad network. (McComb, 40). 1873 Historian David McComb states that: “The usefulness of roads and railways, however, depended, at least in part, on a third commercial artery – Buffalo Bayou, Houston’s link to the outside world until the rail connections of 1873.” (McComb, in NPS, 21). 1876 “The Houston City Street Railway Co. was incorporated October 1876.” Mode of transport was horses and mules. (Akehurst Publishing, 35). 1877 Houston is connected to the Gulf of Mexico, the major cities of Texas and to New Orleans through the network of railroads radiating out from the city. (O.W. Gray & Sons, 1877-1878). 1879 “Flooding was still a problem in Houston. In 1879, the Bayou City suffered a massive flood along both Buffalo and White Oak Bayous. The New York Times article “Floods in Texas” noted, the 155
‘water rose 18 feet in three hours and carried away all the railroad bridges and many warehouses.’ Many buildings were submerged, and the residents were driven out.” (Sipes and Zeve, 23). 1880 “Probable 1880s brick kiln and associated talus deposits” in the area of the archery range. Wagner also finds a “historic midden” which contains “abundant amounts of brick, glass, ceramic, and rusted metal fragments likely dating to the post 1880s. It is very likely associated with the cleaning operations of the brick kiln.” (Wagner, 3-1). 1883 “The original Reinermann survey substantially abandoned. Heirs sold off tracts from the north and west part of the original Reinermann grant to various timber operators. Later they sold the remainder to land speculators, retaining a small tract until 1915 which became the east part of Camp Logan.” (Aulbach, 80-81). 1883 Reinermann tract: “Ownership changed hands several times because of deaths and marriage, and by 1883, embroiled in mortgages, the property was apparently abandoned. Thirty-four years passed before the United States became involved in the First World War and Camp Logan was built.” (Emmott, 10). 1888, Nov. 16 “Carl Julius Kolbe sold the orchard nursery to a Houston retail grocer, Frederick Minster.” This was the area that became the archery range. (Wagner, 6-11). 1890 Streetcar system had approximately 30 miles of track, spurring rapid residential development along its lines. (Slotboom, 4). Streetcars were switched over to electric power in this year, which was also a point of management change. (Akehurst Publishing, 35). 1890s “[Sawmills] were producing 400,000 board feet of lumber per day. Not unlike cotton, Houston was ‘the capital of the Texas lumber industry.’” (NPS, 20). 1891 “In early 1891, many of the streets along Buffalo Bayou were flooded as a result of intense rainfall that left Main Street completely underwater.” (Sipes and Zeve, 23). 1900 “In September 1900…a hurricane and subsequent storm surge that hit Galveston Island, all but wiping out the City of Galveston. Till this point, Galveston was the largest and most successful city in Texas, but it never fully recovered from the disaster. The balance of commercial activity shifted, and future economic growth in the region focuses on Houston.” (Sipes and Zeve, 25). 1901 “…a major gusher at Spindletop near Beaumont in 1901, which helped make Texas the national leader in the oil industry and Houston the hub of oil refining and distribution. Oil companies moved to Houston in droves.” (Sipes and Zeve, 25; Marchiafava, 134). 1901, Jan 10 “At exactly 10:30 a.m., the well that made Beaumont famous burst upon the astonished view of those engaged in boring it, with a volume of water, sand, rocks, gas and oil that sped upward with such tremendous force as to tear the crossbars of the derrick to pieces, and scattered the mixed properties from its bowels, together with timbers, pieces of well casing, etc., for hundreds of feet in all directions.” (Year Book of Texas, in NPS, 21). 1902 “…the US government and the city of Houston reached an agreement to construct the Houston Ship Channel. Widening and dredging the Buffalo Bayou and Galveston Bay would make Houston a deepwater port, opening up new opportunities for shipping.” (Sipes and Zeve, 25). 156
“The city’s first skyscraper was constructed.” (Sipes and Zeve, 25).
1911 Zeve, 25).
“There were 1,031 automobiles in Houston. By 1930, there were 97,902.” (Sipes and
1912 “In the spring of 1912 Arthur C. Comey, a landscape architect from Cambridge, Massachusetts, spent several months in the city and drew up a developmental scheme for the city park commission. His suggestions included an encircling band of parks following the bayous….” (McComb, 139). 1912 Then mayor Horace Baldwin Rice “endorsed the idea of acquiring a large park along Buffalo Bayou ‘that will for all time be of sufficient magnitude for our people.’” (Emmott, 11). 1914
Turning basin on the Houston Ship Channel was completed. (NPS, 20).
1917, April 2
“American entered the First World War.” (Emmott, 13).
1917, April 2 “On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war against Germany. Wilson cited Germany’s violation of its pledge to suspend unrestricted submarine warfare in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, as well as its attempts to entice Mexico into an alliance against the United States, as his reasons for declaring war. On April 4, 1917, the U.S. Senate voted in support of the measure to declare war on Germany. The House concurred two days later.” https://history.state.gov/milestones/1914-1920/wwi, accessed 01/15/2015. U.S. Department of State: Office of the Historian. 1917-1923 Camp Logan was U.S. Army National Guard training camp located on far west boundaries of Houston. 1918, Nov. 11 Armistice Day marks the official end of World War I. Signed in the forest of Compiègne in northern France. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armistice_of_11_November_1918, accessed 02/18/2015). 1919 The widening of the Houston Ship Channel, Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrisburg,_Houston, accessed 01/23/2014 1919 Army turns over control of the hospital at Camp Logan to the Public Health Service (Emmott, 4). Most of the mechanical infrastructure (water pipes, sewer pipes, electrical wiring, lumber, miscellaneous building supplies) is removed by civilian contractors. 1920 Wagner’s survey of the archery range area located a 1920s above-ground metal cistern and accompanying shed. (Wagner, 3-1). 1923 (Emmott, 4).
The hospital formerly serving Camp Logan closed permanently and the camp is deserted
1923 With hospital closure, the golf course used by convalescing soldiers was opened to the public. (Emmott, 29).
1923, July 15 Mrs. Catherine Emmott writes letter to the editor of the Houston Chronicle advocating the creation of a park to commemorate the soldiers of World War I. (Keltner, 10; Emmott, 23-24). 1923 First air conditioning installed at the Second National Bank. Quickly spreads to other buildings in the city. (McComb, 6). Throughout the South, the advent of mechanical air conditioning changes the way Houstonians and other Southerners felt about being outdoors. 1923, Oct 25 Meeting to discuss formation of Memorial Park held on the mezzanine floor at the Rice Hotel. (Emmott, 24). 1923, Nov Will Hogg, Mike Hogg, and Henry Stude buy 875 acres of former Camp Logan land at $176/acre as part of new River Oaks subdivision. (Emmott, 24). 1924, April Hogg brothers and Henry Stude, operating as Varner Realty, purchase 650 additional acres adjacent to their Camp Logan tract from Reinermann Land Co., and sell their original purchase along with the 650 additional acres to the city for the formation of Memorial Park. (Emmott, 24). 1924, Apr 1st First city bus enters service in Houston. Both the streetcar system and the bus system were owned by Houston Electric. Developers favored busses because it was generally cheaper to establish routes to new subdivisions than to build the infrastructure for new streetcar systems. (Slotboom, 4). 1924, May First of several title records is filed transferring the old Camp Logan land owned by Varner Realty to the City of Houston. Hogg family donates $50,000 to provide initial seed money to fund transfer. (Emmott, 24). City takes ownership of land to be used as “Memorial” park dedicated to soldiers who trained, fought, and lost lives in World War I. 1927 With the advent of busses, the streetcar system peaked in 1927, with 90 miles of track. (Slotboom, 4). 1927 City announces that an 18-hole golf course will be constructed in Memorial Park in a new location to replace the 9-hole course created for the use of convalescing WWI soldiers next to the Camp Logan hospital (Emmott, 29). 1929 Flooding from Buffalo Bayou causes $1.4 million in damages in the city of Houston. (McComb, 207). 1930, Sep. 12th Will Hogg dies of complications associated with gall-bladder disease in Germany. 1930s
First loop and bypass routes proposed for Houston. (Slotboom, 292).
1930, Dec 31 “At the present time the Parks Department’s nursery is located in Memorial Park. There are more than 100,000 trees and shrubs and plants grown there for transplanting to the entire park system.” (Houston Chronicle in Emmott, 29). 1931 Current Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was “first established as The Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015.
1933, July 9 “Memorial Park, historic Camp Logan in the World War, second largest municipal park in America, is grievously neglected.” Views shown in the article “graphically reflect the neglect which is making a wasteland and jungle of it since its purchase a number of years ago with the intention of making it into a fitting and lasting memorial to Houston’s World War dead. The pictures, while revealing the widespread neglect, also indicate that natural resources exist for creating beauty with relatively little work and without any important expenditures of money. One hundred or more men, working on work relief, in a short time might transform the Memorial Park of today into something more nearly approaching what it was originally intended to be.” (Houston Chronicle, in Emmott, 30). This quote from the Chronicle is important in establishing existing landscape character of the park at that time. 1933, Sept. Forty men are assigned to work in Memorial Park to clear underbrush, and to “do everything possible to make the park one of the beauty spots of the city.” (Emmott, 30). 1934 The Works Progress Administration made the golf course at Memorial Park its first project in Houston (Emmott, 30). 1934 “The new plan [for Memorial Park] included installing a watering system at a cost of $10,000 as well as construction of six shelter houses of brick and stone, picnic grounds and other outing facilities to be placed along the banks of Buffalo Bayou.” (Emmott, 31). 1934-1936 WPA employs 500 men for construction at Memorial Park. Project budget is $129,217.51, of which $26,002.51 is paid by the City of Houston, and the federal government pays the remaining $103,215. (Newspaper article from HPARD archives, nd, no attribution). Emmott states that the total work in Memorial Park is $184,166.20, but this appears to include all parks in Houston where the Texas Relief Administration was conducting relief work. (Emmott, 30-31). 1935 Flooding on Buffalo Bayou caused $2,500,000 in damages, several persons died, fifteen blocks south of the Bayou were flooded, and two-thirds of the county was under water. The flood, “so silted the ship channel that vessels had to back into the turning basin to avoid going aground. It required eight months to clear the waterway.” (McComb, 207). 1935, Dec. 6-8 “The largest flood occurred on December 6th of 1935 through December 8th, 1935. Rains fell throughout Harris County, which resulted in Buffalo Bayou reach a flood height of ’52 feet above normal.’” (http://www.hcfcd.org/flash/FloodHistory.html, accessed 08/18/2014). 1935 “Construction on the golf course began in 1935, using one tractor and 20 teams of mules.” (Emmott, 31). 1936, July 18 “On July 18 at 2:30 … the first ball was teed off at Memorial Park. The first game was played by a foursome made up of Braeburn Country Club pro Jimmy Demaret and River Oaks pro Jack Burke, Sr., playing against city champion Glen Crisman and amateur Ossie Carlton.” (Emmott, 31). 1936 John Bredemus hired (at a previous time) to design the Memorial Park golf course, which opened in 1936. He claimed that is was “my greatest golf course ever.” The course covered 600 acres and had four water hazards, 96 traps and the longest fairways in the city. (Emmott, 31; Keltner, 10). 1936, Aug. “The first event for the new [golf] course was The Press-City Championship Golf Tournament….” (Emmott, 31). 159
“The state legislature created the Harris County Flood Control District.” (McComb, 207).
1938, Aug 11 Congress passes the Flood Control Acts of August 11, 1938. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addicks_Reservoir, accessed 03/19/2015). 1939 Marshall Black, local amateur historian and archaeologist performs a small excavation in the area of the Archery Range in Memorial Park. Artifacts from this dig later given to the Museum of Natural History of Houston. (J. K. Wagner, 1-2). 1939 “Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the country’s foremost woman golfer, played wrestler Lou Plummer in a celebrity match held there in 1939, a match Didrikson easily won.” (Emmott, 31). 1940, June 9th Houston Electric ends streetcar service. (Slotboom, 5). 1940s Wagner’s survey of the archery range shows the remnant of a 1940s archery pavilion. (Wagner, 3-1). 1941
Mike Hogg dies of cancer.
1942 A comprehensive plan for new thoroughfares was proposed for Houston, but did not include freeways. Previous plans in 1913 (Comey) and in 1929 (Forum of Civics) were proposed but never adopted. Freeway corridors were proposed and included Gulf Freeway, Memorial Parkway, and North Freeway. (Slotboom, 6). 1942, Jan 1 Mr. and Mrs. H.C. Weiss donate 8.84 acres of land adjoining Memorial Park on the west side. “The property fronted 1487 feet on Post Oak Road and was 267 feet deep. It was given to the city without any strings attached to “be used for any purpose the city sees fit.” Emmott, 27). 1945 City hires Frank J. Metyko to assess sewage and water quality in Houston’s bayous. He determines that the worst concentration was in Buffalo Bayou. “Here was raw sewage from sewers and overloaded pumping stations, party treated sewage from treatment plants, and all sorts of industrial wastes such as grease, oil, chemicals, blood, and manure. Buffalo Bayou water was 80 percent sewage.” (McComb, 209). 1945-1946 “Army engineers completed two earth-filled dams west of the urban center.” These were the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs and Dams, which retain runoff and floodwaters during extreme weather events. (McComb, 208). 1947, May 8-11 “The Houston Open debuted at Memorial Park …. Great Britain’s Bobby Locke won the tournament (his first win in the United States) and claimed the $2,000 first prize. Ben Hogan tied for eighth.” (Emmott, 31). 1950 Robert A Vines announces that a group has been formed to study the establishment of a botanical garden and arboretum at Memorial Park. The non-profit was entitled the Houston Botanical Garden and Arboretum Association. City allocated 265 acres for the project. (Emmott, 41). 1951 The Houston Open golf tournament returned to the park where it “remained for more than a decade, playing host to such legends of the game as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Jimmy Demaret, Cary Middlecoff and Jay Hebert.” (Emmott, 31). 160
1952 The Salt Grass Trail Ride. Runs 85 miles from Cat Spring, Texas to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 1954 The West and South Loops are officially adopted into the state highway system as freeways. (Slotboom, 292). 1955 Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) and city of Houston creates “Major Thoroughfare and Freeway Plan,” which is the first official plan to include the freeway system. (Slotboom, 7). 1955 Sam Houston Trail Ride. 66-mile ride from Montgomery, Texas to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 1956 Old Spanish Trail Ride. 216-mile ride from Logansport, LA to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 1957 Prairie View Trail Ride. 102-mile ride from Sunnyside, TX to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 1959 “In 1959 the city council approved building new sidewalks and a parking lot costing $72,600. [Memorial Park Golf Course].” (Emmott, 32) 1959 Valley Lodge Trail Ride. 72-mile ride from Brookshire, TX to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 1960s “Terry Hershey, working with local congressman George Herbert Walker Bush, prevented the federal government from the channelization of Buffalo Bayou inside of Beltway 8.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_Bayou, accessed 06/15/2014). 1960s, early Seymour Leiberman promotes the activity of “jogging” in Memorial Park. Al Lawrence, Australian distance runner begins training area high school students in cross-country. (Emmott, 47). 1961 City builds fence around the acreage set aside for the arboretum in Memorial Park. (Emmott, 41). 1961 The Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition name is changed to Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 1961 The Spanish Trail Ride. 112-mile ride from Coldspring, TX to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 1961 Texas Independence Trail Ride. 92-mile ride from Brazoria, TX to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 1961, Sept. 11 Hurricane Carla struck the Texas coast at Port O’Connor as a category 3 storm, causing widespread flooding and wind damage throughout the region. The “Carla Garden” at Bayou Bend on the south side of Buffalo Bayou was installed in an opening in the tree canopy caused by the hurricane’s winds. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Carla), accessed 02/18/2015. 161
1963 “The Houston Open was last played at Memorial Park in 1963 after which it was moved to the city’s country club courses.” (Emmott, 31). 1964 After languishing for almost 15 years, the City of Houston committed funds for the “arboretum project,” which included fences, access roads and walks. (Emmott, 41). 1966 After seeing Robert A. Vines television show – “Science in Action” – Mrs. Susan M. McAshan, Jr. commits funds from the McAshan Educational and Charitable Trust “for construction of a botanical hall and $20,000 per year for the first five years of its operation” on the grounds of the arboretum area. (Emmott, 42). 1966 “[Terry] Hershey and a number of other homeowners in Houston’s Memorial Villages area formed the Buffalo Bayou Preservation Association, which later widened its mission and became the Bayou Preservation Association.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_Bayou, accessed 06/15/2014). 1967 The Houston Botanical Society “was formed as a private, non-profit organization to manage and operate the facility” [the botanical hall at the arboretum].” (Emmott, 42). 1967
Robert A. Vines was named director of the arboretum. (Emmott, 42).
1967, Feb. 17 “Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall took part in ground-breaking ceremonies for the Aline McAshan Botanical Hall for Children, named for Susan McAshan’s mother-in-law.” (Emmott, 42). 1968
Arboretum officially opens. (Keltner, 13).
1968, Mar 3 Steward Udall gave the dedication address at the opening of the Aline McAshan Botanical Hall for Children. (Emmott, 42). 1965
Katy Freeway on the north side of the park becomes IH 10 West. (Slotboom, 20).
1971 Pete League founds the Long Distance Running Committee, sponsoring many runs in Memorial Park. (Emmott, 48). 1971, May Emmott Trail and Emmott Circle were dedicated in honor of Catharine Mary Emmott at the Arboretum. (Emmott, 42). 1972 1972 Olympics encourages more people to run as exercise and as a hobby. Early runners in the park ran along the major roads in grass paths. (Emmott, 47). 1973 Los Vaqueros Rio Grande Trail Ride. 386-mile ride from Hidalgo, TX to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 1974 Southwestern Trail Ride. 100-mile ride from Brazoria, TX to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 1975 Brownco oil drilling company is given permission by the Hogg family and other trustees of the Hogg estate to explore for oil and gas within the park boundaries. Proceeds to flow to the City of
Houston for park improvements. This lease was later abandoned after public outcry and decision of Hogg estate to reconsider original lease. (Cook, 1). 1975, Aug 19
Ima Hogg, long-time protector of Memorial Park’s legacy, dies.
First Houston Marathon run through Memorial Park. (Emmott, 48).
“Exer-trail” constructed and opens in park. (Keltner, 13).
Old tennis center destroyed by fire. (Keltner, 13).
Replacement tennis center opened. (Keltner, 13).
1978 “The city installed an exer-trail of pine bark and mulch with exercise stations at various locations. At that time the trail was named for Houston’s pioneering jogger, Seymour Lieberman.” (Emmott, 48). 1979 Local non-profit group The Park People, Inc., formed to “preserve, enhance and increase parks and open space in the Houston area” (Emmott, 4). 1981 “Eighteen years after the last Houston Open was played there, golfer Doug Sanders announced he would be bringing tournament golf back to Houston, specifically to Memorial Park.” (Emmott, 31). 1981 Arboretum changed name to “Houston Arboretum & Nature Center.” John Horkel, director of the Arboretum at the time noted the changing name, changing mission, and commented on the 155 acres of the Arboretum. (Emmott, 44). 1981. Oct. 3-4 “Some 21 old-time golfers came in for the celebrity/senior pro-am event including Sam Snead, Cary Middlecoff, Tommy Bolt, Marty Furgolo, Jay Hebert and Bill Collins. Celebrity guests ranged from Bob Hope and Flip Wilson to Willie Nelson and Ed McMahon.” (Emmott, 32). 1982 Northeastern Trail Ride. 108-mile ride from Anderson, TX to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 1984 Lights installed along jogging trails after heightened security concerns. Effort was called “Light the Park Project,” and local jogging organizations raised $90,000 for the lighting installation. (Keltner, 13). Project included “lights, a stretching and warm-up area, a cool-down area with a wooden deck and benches for runners, a gazebo, two water fountains and an outdoor shower. The group also test-paved a stretch of trail that was usually muddy, using crushed granite.” (Emmott, 49). 1984, July 13
Lights are switched on for running/jogging trails. (Emmott, 49).
1986 $2.3 million series of upgrades in picnic area. New paved roads, parking lots, picnic tables, grills, drinking fountains, and four new restrooms. Pedestrian trails are planned. (Keltner, 13). 1986 Texas Cattlemen’s Trail Ride. 85-mile ride from Anderson, TX to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015).
1986, Feb The crushed granite stretch of jogging trail, installed as an experiment, proved so popular that the same “Light the Park” committee started a new campaign headed by Mrs. Meredith Long to raise $110,000 to raise funds to complete the installation of crushed granite along the entire trail. (Emmott, 49). 1987, Feb “…dedication of a new quarter-mile asphalt training track across from the tennis center. Roy and Mary Cullen donated funds for material, while labor and equipment were provided by the Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD).” (Emmott, 49). 1988 Joan Few, of the Texas Archeological Society and the Houston Archeological Society visited the Archery Range and registered file No. 41HR617 with the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory in Austin. (Wagner, 1-3). 1988 Archery Range closed due to complaints from surrounding property owners about arrows in adjoining lawn areas and in proximity to car park areas at hotels. (Wagner, 1-3). 1989 “An archeological survey of Memorial Park and the Camp Logan facility … found no evidence of historic occupation in Memorial Park prior to 1917.” (Aulbach, 81; Moore, Moore, & Pettus, 1989). 1990 The Mission Trail Ride. 210-mile ride from San Antonio, TX to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 1992, Jan 26 “…the Women’s U.S. Olympic Marathon trials were run in Houston.” The runners traversed Memorial Park during their run. (Emmott, 48). 1992, Feb 17
25th anniversary of the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. (Emmott, 44).
1992 “…the city spent $727,000 to upgrade the swimming pool and bathrooms. The shallow end of the pool also received a new waterslide. New picnic tables were provided, and a new meeting room, suitable for aerobic classes, was installed in the bathhouse.” (Emmott, 49). 1993 Southwest Trail Ride. 120-mile ride from Rosenberg, TX to Houston. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Livestock_Show_and_Rodeo, accessed 01/19/2015). 2001 “When Tropical Storm Allison hit in 2001, it flooded more than 73,000 homes and caused billions of dollars in damages. Twenty people lost their lives.” (Sipes & Zeve, 8). 2004
Electric street service returns to Houston with light rail on Main Street. (Slotboom, 5).
Wallace, Roberts & Todd developed master plan for Memorial Park.
2008, Sept. 13 Hurricane Ike struck the Texas coast at Galveston and moved north across the greater Houston metropolitan area. It was the third costliest storm to strike the United States, following behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and later by Sandy in 2012. Estimated property damages were $29.5 billion. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Ike, accessed 02/18/2015). Damage to the tree canopy in Houston was extensive.
2010 Multi-year drought began in Texas and parts of the western United States. Further damage to the already fragile tree canopy in Memorial Park accelerates. (Huddleston, May 15, 2014). 2013 Three separate portions of Camp Logan/Memorial Park designated â€œState Archeological Landmarkâ€? by the Texas Historical Commission. (Texas Historical Commission nomination form). 2014, May 20 Preservation Texas placed Camp Logan and Hogg Bird Sanctuary on its Most Endangered Places list. 2014, Aug 23 Runners gathered at Memorial Park to dedicate the new stretching deck in memory of Mark Fraser, a Houston leader in the running community. This renovated deck replaced the one that had fallen into disrepair. (MacInnis, 2).
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Prepared by Suzanne Turner Associates, 2015