The building now called the Foley Building or Kennedy-Foley Building was built by John Kennedy, an early Houston merchant and Indian trader, in 1860. It served as a Confederate armory during the Civil War and was half-destroyed by fire in 1888.
Kennedy later gave the building to his son-in-law, William L. Foley, who has been referred to as the “dean of Houston dry goods merchants.” He was the “rich uncle” who, in 1900, gave Foley brothers Pat and James Foley the money to open the “Foley Brothers” store that would grow into the Foley’s department store chain.
Foley operated the W.L. Foley Dry Goods Co. in the building from 1896 until his death, in 1925. His children managed the business at that location until 1948. An advertisement in the November 20, 1897 edition of the Houston Daily Post announced a “Special Sale of Gloves and Hosiery” at “William L. Foley – 214, 216, 218 Travis Street”. The gloves listed are priced from 47 cents to $1.50, and the hosiery – “Quantity Limited. Only four pairs to each customer.” – is priced from 19 cents to 43 cents. The following day’s paper – a Sunday paper – contained a near full-page ad for the store, and competing ads from companies such as the Levy Brothers Dry Goods Company, Mistrot Bros. & Co., and Kiam Clothiers.
The Foley Building has more recently been home to the “12 Spot” bar, which closed in 2006, but is rumored to be re-opening in 2007.
[Parasol Project at Foley House]
The William L. Foley House was built in 1904. The house was moved from its original location (704 Chenevert) to its present location on the 700 block of Avenida de las Americas. It sits next door to the Arthur B. Cohen house, built in 1905. Located between the George R. Brown Convention Center and Minute Maid Park, an area that has undergone considerable changes in recent years, the houses were at one time scheduled for demolition. In early 2007, however, the mayor announced plans to convert the two structures into a regional heritage tourism center.
The Foley House is pictured above during a 2006-2007 sculpture installation called the “Parasol Project”.