Category Archives: Market Square

Market Square Clock

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[Houstontx.gov]

The Market Square Clock stands in Market Square, at the corner of Travis and Congress. It incorporates the very same clock faces that looked out over the city, from 1904 to 1960, from the top of the fourth (and last) building in Market Square to have served as Houston’s city hall. After the building was destroyed, the clock was placed in storage, and ultimately ended up in a junkyard. The man who purchased the clock from the junkyard displayed it in an historical park in Woodville, Texas, but later returned it to Houston. In 1996, the clock was again displayed in Market Square, in a new modern clock tower. The clock must be wound every eight days. Each of its faces is seven and a half feet across. The new clock tower also houses a 2800-pound fire bell that survived the 1903 fire that destroyed the third city hall building in Market Square.

More information:
Houstontx.gov

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Houston Ice & Brewing Co.

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[Houston Ice and Brewing Company’s Magnolia Brewery and (on right) its executive offices (now the Magnolia Ballroom) – magnoliaballroom.com]

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[Brewing Magnolia Beer – magnoliaballroom.com]

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[Magnolia Beer sign – Center for American History]

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[1909 newspaper advertisement]

While some of the historical facts appear to be in dispute, the story goes something like this…

The Magnolia Ballroom building on the Franklin Street side of Market Square (715 Franklin) was built in 1912, on the foundation of an older building (the Franklin Building), and once housed the taproom and executive offices for the Houston Ice and Brewing Co.’s Magnolia Brewery. The building was the first in Houston to have refrigerator-style air conditioning. In 2006, it became the first commercial building in Houston to receive the Houston Protected Landmark designation.

By 1915, the Houston Ice and Brewing Company encompassed more than 10 buildings on more than 20 acres located on both sides of Buffalo Bayou. In fact, the brewery even spanned the bayou for some period of time – the Louisiana Street bridge now crosses the bayou at the same location. To provide easier access across the bayou, the brewery built a 250-foot wood and concrete bridge stretching from the Franklin Street bridge toward the Milam Street bridge.

The Magnolia Brewery produced a number of signature brands of beer, including (it is reported) Magnolia, Richelieu, Hiawatha, Grand Prize, and Southern Select (the latter being the most famous). In 1913, brewmaster Frantz Brogniez was awarded Grand Prize at the last International Conference of Breweries for his Southern Select beer – beating out 4,096 competing brewers from around the world. In 1919, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the labeling on one of the Houston Ice and Brewing Company’s brands did not infringe upon a Schlitz trademark. (Having noted that the similarities in the two bottles were limited to their content and brown labels, the Court stated: “If there were deception it seems to us that it would arise from beer and brown color and that it could not be said that the configuration appreciably helped.”)

The company’s decline began during Prohibition, when the Houston Ice and Brewing Company was forced to rely solely on its ice sales. Many of the brewery’s structures were then destroyed in the historic 1935 flood, which was later blamed on the Magnolia Brewery bridge. The brewery struggled to survive, but closed in 1950.

The Magnolia Ballroom is just one of two Houston Ice and Brewing Company buildings that remains standing. In 1969, a high-end restaurant called the Bismark was located on the second floor, and the Buffalo Bayou Flea Market operated out of the basement. The basement has since housed a variety of bars and clubs. The upstairs floors are currently used for special events – much of the ornate interior of the building has been preserved, and it is decorated with historic photos.

More information:
Allan Turner, “Magnolia Ballroom becomes Houston’s first protected landmark,” Houston Chronicle, Oct. 10, 2006
Magnolia Brewery Building,” magnoliaballroom.com (citing additional sources)
Jospeh Schlitz Brewing Co. v. Houston Ice & Brewing Co., 250 U.S. 28 (1919)
Magnolia Ballroom Showcases Brewery Museum,” fohbc.com
Gorski, L.C. and Aulbach, L.F., “Oktoberfest in Houston? Breweries on the Bayou,” Buffalo Bayou – An Echo of Houston’s Wilderness Beginnings (2003).

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[Wamba Coffee – see comments below]

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[Peerless Beer – see comments below]

City Hall and Market House

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[1872 – First or Second City Hall and Market House (drawing is dated 1872, before the construction of the second building, but the building looks like the second building)]

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[1873 – Second City Hall and Market House – Notes accompanying the 1873 Bird’s-Eye Map of Houston suggest this was the second building]

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[1873 – Second City Hall and Market House – Notes accompanying the 1873 Bird’s-Eye Map of Houston suggest this was the second building]

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[Second City Hall and Market House]

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[Third City Hall and Market House]

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[Third City Hall and Market House – 1891 Panoramic Map of Houston]

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[Fourth City Hall and Market House]

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[Fourth City Hall and Market House]

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[Fourth City Hall and Market House (1907) – Rootsweb.com]

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[Fourth City Hall and Market House (1908) – Rootsweb.com]

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[Fourth City Hall and Market House (1917) – Rootsweb.com]

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[Fourth City Hall and Market House – U.T. Center for American History]

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[Fourth City Hall and Market House]

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[Fourth City Hall and Market House – Rootsweb.com]

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[Fourth City Hall and Market House – George Fuermann Texas and Houston Collection, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries]

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[Fourth City Hall and Market House – Sloanegallery.com]


[Fourth City Hall and Market House serving as bus station – WPA Writers’ Program, Houston, a History and Guide]

Market Square is bounded by Travis, Milam, Congress and Preston streets. The block, which is now a park, was the site of four different successive buildings known as City Hall and Market House. The first was built there in 1841, the second in 1873, and the third in 1876. The Houston Daily Post reported in November 1897 that:

A force of carpenters, plasterers, etc., were at work yesterday in putting the market house in shape for the industrial exhibit that is to be made there during the Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Festival, December 6 to 11. This will be a very much needed improvement, and it is fortunate that something has occurred to bring it about, as the city hall has for a long time been in a most unsightly and dilapidated condition.

The fourth City Hall and Market House on Market Square stood the longest – from 1904 to 1960. However, when City Hall moved to its present location in 1939, the building was converted to a bus station. The fire bell from the third City Hall and Market House (which was destroyed by fire in 1903), and the clock from the fourth (built in 1904), have been incorporated into the Market Square Clock.