Monthly Archives: December 2006

Old City Cemetery

The five-acre city cemetery known as Old City Cemetery was actually the second official cemetery. It was founded, in 1840, when the original City Cemetery, now known as Founders Memorial Cemetery, was becoming near full. At the time, the new site was about a mile north of town. Many of those buried in the cemetery were victims of yellow fever and cholera epidemics, and many were Civil War veterans. It is believed that as many as 10,000 people were buried on the site.

Burials continued until 1904, when the city de-designated the cemetery (though perhaps illegally). The city had grown significantly by then and, despite opposition from groups such as the Daughters of the Confederacy, it wished to make the land available for city use and industrial development. Some small portion of the graves were moved to other sites, but most remained.

In the 1920’s, the city of Houston and Harris County built the original Jefferson Davis Hospital directly on top of one portion of the cemetery. The hospital was elevated, likely so as to disturb as few graves as possible. Nevertheless, many graves were disturbed during the hospital’s construction, and it is unknown whether the remains of those exhumed were reburied elsewhere.

Bones were again uncovered in 1968, when the city built Fire Department maintenance facilities at 1010 Girard, on part of the cemetery. Those exhumed were reportedly reburied in Magnolia Cemetery. Another 25-30 graves were exposed in 1986, during construction at the Fire Department facility. A number of the graves were desecrated by souvenir-seekers before the city hired a local anthropologist to supervise the handling of the remains. The bones were reburied in a set-aside area on the Fire Department facility’s grounds, amidst original graves, but not until 2006. The area is only accessible by special permission.

More information:
Grant, A., “Human remains finally reburied,” Houston Chronicle, Aug. 4, 2006.
Stinebaker, J., “Awaiting prognosis,” Houston Chronicle, Nov. 30, 1998.
Tutt, B., “City Cemetery holds untold secrets,” Houston Chronicle, Sept. 28, 1986.


Founders Memorial Cemetery


The two-acre Founders Memorial Cemetery is located at 1217 West Dallas (at Valentine Street). It was founded in 1836, and was then known as the City Cemetery. West Dallas was then called the San Felipe Road. John Kirby Allen, who founded Houston with his brother Augustus, is buried in the cemetery. Also buried there are veterans of the Texas Revolution, the Battle of San Jacinto, and the Civil War. The cemetery has suffered periods of neglect, but is now well-maintained.

More information:
City of Houston, “Founders Memorial Cemetery

American Brewing Association

[1910’s – American Brewing Association building – Houston History]

Adolphus Busch founded a brewery in Houston in 1893, as part of his American Brewing Association business. (The American Brewing Association is sometimes reported to be connected with, and sometimes reported to be independent of, the Anheuser-Busch Companies – however, an October 28, 1892 article in the Houston Daily Post refers to the planned brewery as the “Anheuser-Busch brewery”.) In 1894, the brewery held an opening ceremony at the brewery, to introduce its product to the public, and 10,000 people reportedly attended. The brewery covered an entire city block at Railroad and 2nd Streets, and remnants of the brewery and a related building have been uncovered during construction at the University of Houston’s downtown campus. Also discovered was a tunnel leading from the site to Buffalo Bayou.

An 1897 American Brewing Association advertisement featured two brands of beer – “Dixie Pale” and “Hackerbrau”. The cost – $1.00 for 12 pint bottles, $1.50 for 12 quart bottles – included delivery “at your residence.” The ad also listed the brewery’s “Houston ‘Phone” number… 73.

More Information:
Gorski, L.C. and Aulbach, L.F., “Oktoberfest in Houston? Breweries on the Bayou,” Buffalo Bayou – An Echo of Houston’s Wilderness Beginnings (2003).


[Juneteenth celebration in Eastwoods Park, Austin, 1900 (Austin History Center)]

While there are now Juneteenth celebrations nationwide, the event originated in Texas and has been celebrated in Houston since the 1860’s. It commemorates a Union officer’s official announcement – in Galveston, on June 19, 1865 – that the Civil War was over and all slaves were free. The declaration was made two months after the war ended, and two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. There were approximately 250,000 slaves in Texas at the time. State Representative Al Edwards, from Houston, sponsored the bill in 1979 that made Juneteenth an official state holiday.

Juneteenth became so significant in black communities in Texas that it inspired many to purchase and reserve a plot of land as a public park and celebration grounds. Often such parks were named Emancipation Park. In Houston, in 1872, Rev. Jack Yates organized a group that raised $1000 to purchase a ten-acre site in the city’s Third Ward. Houston’s Emancipation Park survives to this day. Historically, Juneteenth festivals have featured barbecue and strawberry soda.

More information:
Handbook of Texas Online, “Juneteenth
AFRO-American Alamanac, “The History of Juneteenth

Elysian Viaduct

[David Bush, Greater Houston Preservation Alliance]

[Houston Chronicle]

The elegant-sounding Elysian Viaduct is actually just a 1.5-mile-long overpass connecting downtown Houston with the Near Northside. The downtown-side entrance to the overpass is just north of Minute Maid Park. The overpass was built in 1955, over what had been Elysian Street, without taking any adjacent properties. As shown in the photos above, the overpass was thus built almost on top of homes in the historic neighborhoods it crossed, contributing to the decline of those neighborhoods. A proposed expansion and extension of the viaduct poses a new threat to the Near Northside, which features one of the city’s largest concentrations of late Victorian architecture.

More information:
Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, “Elysian Viaduct Update
Davis, R. and Walton, R., Editorial, “Let’s not remake the same mistake with Elysian Viaduct,” Houston Chronicle, Dec. 6, 2004.
Houston Architecture Info Forum, Elysian Street Viaduct discussion

Frantz Brogniez, Brewmaster

[Frantz Brogniez – Houston’s Premier Brewmaster]

Frantz Brogniez was the Belgian-born brewmaster who turned the Houston Ice and Brewing Company into the largest brewing company south of Milwaukee, and later operated Howard Hughes’ Houston-based Gulf Brewing Company. In 1913, while he was serving as brewmaster at Houston Ice and Brewing, Brogniez beat out 4,096 other brewers around the world to win the Grand Prize at the International Congress ofBrewers. The beer for which was honored was Houston Ice and Brewing’s most popular, Southern Select. During Prohibition, Brogniez moved to El Paso and worked with brewing interests in Juarez. At the end of Prohibition, Hughes coaxed Brogniez back to Houston to oversee the operations of Hughes’ Gulf Brewing Company, which produced Grand Prize beer. Brogniez’ son, Frank, operated the brewery after his father’s death.

More information:
Magnolia Ballroom Showcases Brewery Museum,”

Kirby House