Sam Houston Hall & 1928 Democratic National Convention


[U.T. Center for American History]




Before there was a Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, and before there was a Sam Houston Coliseum or Music Hall, there was Sam Houston Hall. Sam Houston Hall stood on the same ground later occupied by the Coliseum, Music Hall, and (now) Hobby Center, but stood for less than a decade. The 20,000-person hall was built in a hurry for the 1928 Democratic National Convention – it took only 64 days to complete. (The Democratic presidential candidate in 1928 was Alfred Smith, who lost to Herbert Hoover.) The “official photograph” of the 1928 Democratic National Convention shows thousands of attendees. At the time, the plot of land on which Sam Houston Hall was built was directly adjacent to Houston’s Fire Station Number 2, as shown in some of the photos above. The hall was razed in 1936.

A marker outside the Hobby Center commemorates the building that once stood there.

Sadly, a lynching occurred in Houston during the convention – an event that TIME Magazine referred to as “Houston’s Shame”.

More information:

TIME Magazine, “To Houston”, Jan. 23, 1928
TIME Magazine, “The Democracy”, July 2, 1928
TIME Magazine, “Conventionale”, July 9, 1928


6 responses to “Sam Houston Hall & 1928 Democratic National Convention

  1. The 1928 Democratic Convention is one of my favorite Jesse Jones stories. I’m definitely going to look for the marker next time I’m at the Hobby.

  2. Sarah Peel Mabry

    Didn’t Franklin Roosevelt give the nominating speech for Al Smith?
    My father, T. J. Peel attended the convention with his father, Lester Peel of Montgomery, Texas, and Dad always talked about the event.

    • Sarah, I am writing a novel about the Democratic Convention of 1928. I would love to hear your father’s stories about the event. THanks, Anne Sloan

  3. Dr. Ernesto Valdés

    Sir or Madam,

    I am with the UH Center for Public History and I’ve just reviewed your website and “Houstoria.” We are dedicated to the preservation of Houston history and I would like to speak to someone from your organization. Please call me at 832-286-7924 or contact me by email.

    Thank you,
    Ernesto Valdés

  4. Is there an official or any other photograph of the donkey and cart that was on display at the 1928 National Democratic Convention in Houston, Texas? The donkey, named Tony, was later given to the Houston zoo. He was a small Sicilian donkey.

    Susan Eades

  5. where can FDR’s speech at the 1928 convention be found all searches lead to the 1924 speech.

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