In 1852, Horace Taylor, who was to become one of the most influential men in Houston, married and bought his brother's 6 acre tract bounded by Smith, Preston and Buffalo Bayou which today includes Sesquicentennial Park. A dense wood grew along the bayou - sycamore, prickly ash, bois d'arc, sweetgum, holly, box elder and mustang grapes. Some of the magnolia trees were nearly 100 feet tall.
The home of Emily and H. D. Taylor, which had been constructed by
brothers in 1851, was enlarged 6 times and eventually contained 10
It was a house fit for the Taylor's status in early Houston. Horace and
his brother were cotton merchants and were very successful. Horace
was an alderman and later became the first post Civil War Mayor of
In a manner that is uncommon in today's political world, he refused his
salary of $3000 during his term as mayor.
The bridge across Buffalo Bayou at Preston Avenue was extremely important to the commerce of early Houston. Although the business of the city revolved around Main Street and the shipment of goods was through Allen's Landing, the flow of cotton and agricultural foods from the countryside depended on access to the farmers market on Market Square via Washington Road and the Preston Avenue bridge. The importance of this artery is seen in the fact that a 'high bridge' over the bayou was constructed in the 1840's. The Long Bridge, as it was called, spanned Buffalo Bayou, replaced the ferry, and linked Washington Rd to Preston Ave. It provided access for the mule trains and caravans of ox wagons carrying produce from truck farms west of town to the Farmers' Market. It was imperative that high water in the bayou not prevent the products of the Brazos Valley from getting to town.
As an interesting footnote, Richard Allen worked on the construction of the first bridge over Buffalo Bayou at Preston Ave. Allen was a slave owned by J. J. Cain, and he was brought to Texas in 1837 from Virginia. He was a skilled carpenter, and after he was emancipated in 1865, he continued his career as a contractor and bridge builder.
Sesquicentennial Park, on the west side of Buffalo Bayou, was
in 1998. The area along the bayou has deliberately been left "wild."
Upper Garden, on the north side of the Preston Avenue bridge near the
of Bagby and Franklin features an 8-foot hill that provides a
view of downtown.
The land along the north bank, today, is occupied by the City's Fire Alarm Building (at the corner of Preston and Bagby), the One Bayou Park office building (at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Bagby) and the U. S. Post Office (along Washington Ave to the Franklin Ave bridge).
The Fire Alarm Building, though an important part of the City's
response system, is an undistinguished, block-house structure than is
functional than stylistic. The Fire Alarm Building was moved to this
from a site in Sam Houston Park in December, 1975.
Across the street, to the north, is the One Bayou Park building, still under construction. It is an interesting renovation of the Tennison Hotel. The Tennison Hotel, built in the early 1920's, was a 'railroad station hotel' serving business travelers arriving by train at the nearby Grand Central Station. It was one of several hotels designed by architect Joseph Finger, including the William Penn Hotel, the Texas State Hotel, the Auditorium Hotel, and the DeGeorge Hotel. As passenger train business declined, the hotel died. Prior to the conversion to upscale apartments and office space in 2000, the building had been vacant since the 1970's.
The central Post Office is now located where the old Grand Central
once stood. Actually, there was a succession of three Grand Central
of the Southern Pacific Railroad on this site. And, prior to that, the
area covered by Grand Central Station, its terminal tracks, switching
and the parkways that surround it, included the site of Henry Henke's
Yard, a campsite established during the 1870's as an adjunct to his New
Orleans Store in Market Square.
a grocery store on Market Square in 1873. He hired Eugene Pillot to
with the grocery business, then made him a partner. Together, they
the first supermarket chain in Houston called Henke and Pillot. The
was sold to the Kroger Company in 1956.
A Central Depot for the Southern Pacific Railroad was a 3 story
building completed by the end of 1887. This station was remodeled
in 1906 and in 1914. During this period of rail traffic, hotels
around the depot. The Brazos Hotel, located adjacent to the station,
a popularly priced hotel that catered to traveling salesmen who would
in Houston by passenger train. The Macatee Hotel was one block east.
previously mentioned Tennison Hotel was built in the 1920's to serve
1929, a new
station was planned and designed by Wyatt C. Hedrick, Inc of Houston in
a modernistic style. Construction began in May, 1933 and it opened on
1, 1934 as 'Grand Central Station'. It was razed in 1961 for the new US
Access to this section of Buffalo Bayou is possible from Allen's Landing Park at the foot of Main St (although it is closed due to construction in the area at this time), or from Eleanor Tinsley Park on Allen Parkway, about a half mile upstream. Parking is adequate at both locations.
Photos, top to bottom:
1. Preston Ave bridge with a remnant of the brickwork from the previous structure.
2. Fire Alarm Building
3. One Bayou Park
4. Grand Central Station, 1900
5. Grand Central Station, 1942
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and this web site is copyrighted. All rights reserved.
Copyright by Louis F. Aulbach, 2001