W.L. Foley Building - Houston, Texas
Posted by: JimmyEv
N 29° 45.781 W 095° 21.697
15R E 271655 N 3294863
Quick Description: The second building on this block designed by prolific Texas courthouse architect Eugene T. Heiner, this building was owned by John Kennedy. It was the site of a near-riot after the South surrendered.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 10/9/2006 5:33:07 PM
Waymark Code: WMTQ2
John Kennedy, owner of the near-by Kennedy Bakery, built a store here in 1860. During the Civil War, the store was used as a Confederate armory. After Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederacy, which hadn’t surrendered, was thrown into chaos. The Union had obtained the important parts of the Confederacy - the cotton fields of the southeast, the navigation-corridor of the Mississippi River, and the cities of Richmond, Charleston and Atlanta. Without anything left to fight for, soldiers decided to divy-up among themselves anything belonging to the Confederacy. So they raided the armory, haphazardly grabbing cartridges, ammunition, cannon powder, and hand grenades. Kennedy watched explosives being spilled throughout his building.
Fearing an explosion, Kennedy hired men and teams of horses to flood the building with water, drawn from his cistern behind the Kennedy Bakery. Then his hired hands piled sacks of powder and ammunition onto wagons and dumped them off the Milam Street Bridge into Buffalo Bayou. Even though his building didn’t blow-up, this only saved his building temporarily - half the building burnt in 1888.
In 1889, Eugene T. Heiner was hired to rebuild Kennedy’s building. With alternating colors in arches and angles creating contrasts of depth, color and shape, the building is done in almost the same classical revival style as the Cotton Exchange, but with a lighter brick. A sidewalk canopy supported by cast-iron columns, a typical feature of Houston architecture in the 19th and early 20th centuries, lines the front of the building.
In 1896, W.L. Foley, son-in-law to John Kennedy, opened the W.L. Foley Dry Goods Co. in this structure. The store remained in business until 1948, and now holds office space.
Main Street/Market Square Historic District
Old Cotton Exchange
Texas Historical Commission, "W.L. Foley Building," available at Texas Historical Atlas
214-218 Travis Street
Houston, TX USA
County / Borough / Parish: Harris County
Year listed: 1978
Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering (Classical Revival)
Periods of significance: 1850-1899
Historic function: Dry Goods Store
Current function: Vacant
Privately owned?: yes
Primary Web Site: [Web Link]
Season start / Season finish: Not listed
Hours of operation: Not listed
Secondary Website 1: Not listed
Secondary Website 2: Not listed
National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.