Rice Hotel - Houston, Texas
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member JimmyEv
N 29° 45.619 W 095° 21.769
15R E 271533 N 3294566
Houston’s most historic hotel was owned at various times by William Marsh Rice and Jesse H Jones. This was also the site of the first Capitol of the Republic of Texas. It's now an apartment building.
Waymark Code: WMREQ
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 09/26/2006
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member silverquill
Views: 106

The Allen Brothers, founders of Houston, donated this site to the Republic of Texas for the construction of a Capitol building. The Texas Congress met here, in a simple, two-story, wood-frame structure from April of 1837 until 1839, when the capital was moved to Austin. Ownership of the old Capitol building reverted to the Allen Brothers and it was converted into a hotel until the Mexican invasion of 1842. For seven months, the Texas Congress once again held their sessions at this location. After it’s temporary use as the capitol, the building reverted to its use as a hotel. It was here that Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas, committed suicide in 1858.

In 1882, the wood-frame old Capitol Building/Hotel was replaced with an elaborate, five-story, brick and stucco hotel designed by Houston architect George E. Dickey. In 1886, William Marsh Rice, at the time probably the wealthiest man in Texas, purchased the hotel for taxes and renamed it the Rice Hotel. He owned it until his murder (a complicated conspiracy involving his valet, a lawyer and a forged will) in 1900. Ownership passed to the Rice Institute. Jesse H. Jones leased the property and purchased the hotel from the Rice Institute in 1911.

The current structure was built in 1913 by Jesse Jones, using St. Louis architects Mauran, Russell & Crowell. It was erected as a 17-story, U-planned hotel, with 650 rooms. The hotel boasted Houston’s first air-conditioned public space in 1922, the Rice Hotel Cafeteria. A west wing was added in 1926 by architect Alfred C. Finn, turning the U-plan, with two towers, into an E-plan, with three towers, and increasing the total number of guest rooms to 1000. The friezes, cornice and sidewalk canopy were carefully extended across the west wing.

The hotel was closed in 1977 and sat vacant for about two decades. In the late 1990's, the structure was remodeled into 365 loft apartments with street-level shops and restaurants. The only alteration to the exterior of the building was the addition of a rear motor court and an 18th floor in 1951. The remainder of the exterior remains relatively intact from 1926. The interior of the building has been remodeled several times, but care has been taken to restore the lobby.

Main Street/Market Square Historic District
Next: Brashear Building | Previous: Byrd's Building

Texas Historical Commission, "Rice Hotel," available at Texas Historical Atlas

Street address:
Main Street and Texas Avenue
Houston, TX USA

County / Borough / Parish: Harris County

Year listed: 1978

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering

Periods of significance: 1900-1949

Historic function: Hotel

Current function: Apartments

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
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.
Search for...
Geocaching.com Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Nearest Geocaches
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log User Rating  
jiggs11 visited Rice Hotel - Houston, Texas 02/21/2023 jiggs11 visited it
msbbop visited Rice Hotel - Houston, Texas 08/16/2019 msbbop visited it
Raven visited Rice Hotel - Houston, Texas 04/08/2013 Raven visited it
PeterNoG visited Rice Hotel - Houston, Texas 02/17/2010 PeterNoG visited it
run26.2 visited Rice Hotel - Houston, Texas 01/12/2008 run26.2 visited it

View all visits/logs