Photos of Historic Houston on Display in the GRB

Houston • Dec. 13, 2017

The display boxes in the lobby of the George R. Brown Convention Center Ballroom have been repurposed into a gallery for rotating exhibitions. The first is a display of photographs from the Story Sloane Collection. A native Houstonian, passionate historian, author and photographer as well, Story Sloane entertains visitors to his gallery with a detailed description of each photo in his vast archive. He also places into context the cultural significance of that particular moment in Houston's history. This small sampling of his collection features historic images of nearby landmarks, businesses and daily life taking place in and around what is now Avenida Houston, along with past moments that illustrate how Houston became the great city is today. For more photos and to learn more about Story Sloane visit sloanegallery.com.


Orange Grove Market

Few may recall the days when it was customary for fruit pickers in white aprons to pick the fruit, polish it and bag it. These men stand outside of the Orange Grove Market which was located at 2020 Milam Street and Gray. In addition to the market’s selection of produce, ginger ales and beers, a lunch counter inside served hot beef tamales for a dime, chicken tamales for a quarter and homemade chili for 15 cents. The “stop and shop” was one of the first in Houston to stay open all night and to offer curbside service. (c. 1935)

Main and Rusk Streets c. 1935

Almost ten years after the 1928 Main and Franklin image was taken, this view of Main and Rusk Streets demonstrates Houston’s rapid growth and hints at the city’s future of becoming an automobile city. On the right is the S. H. Kress and Co. Building located at 705 Main Street. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the eight-story building is covered almost entirely in terra cotta. A 1983 renovation removed the Kress signage and other architectural features of its retail past, but the building retains the character of a 1913 skyscraper. This Kress building was one of the largest the company built and one of the few to incorporate professional offices.

Watermelon in Luna Park

Known as the "Coney Island of Texas," Luna Park was built near the Houston Heights in 1924. Located on the north banks of White Oak Bayou, the park featured a bandstand and a rollercoaster. Called the Giant Skyrocket, the coaster reached a height of 110 feet and was over a mile long. In 1928 the park held a dance marathon. The participants danced continuously for more than three weeks in pursuit of the $1,000 prize with only a fifteen minute rest period each hour. (c. 1925)

Auditorium Hotel 1927

Built in 1926 by Michele DeGeorge and designed by prominent Houston Architect Joseph Finger, the Auditorium Hotel was named for the City Auditorium located across Texas Avenue. Two months after the hotel opened, vaudeville and silent film star Betty Rand, aka Grace Rodens, holds the reigns of her beloved Arabian horse Phantom. The horse, which was boarded at a nearby stable, most likely on the site of today’s Alley Theatre, was starring in a movie being filmed in Houston and Galveston. Rand, from Houston, brought Phantom “The Flying Wild Horse” to the hotel in 1927, to film an adaptation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust. Phantom was the first horse to fly in an airplane during his trip over the English Channel.