Market Square Park - Houston, Texas
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member JimmyEv
N 29° 45.763 W 095° 21.738
15R E 271588 N 3294831
Quick Description: Originally the center of Houston’s business district, this square has been home to the city’s public market and three city halls. The sidewalks of the square are paved with Houston history, and the concrete benches are inlaid with historical photos.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 9/25/2006 5:12:18 PM
Waymark Code: WMRCV
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 139

Long Description:
This is one of the two original public squares set aside by the Allen brothers when they platted the town in 1836. Although the Allen Brothers had planned on the Capitol of the new Republic sitting in this square, the temporary capitol was located a few blocks away where the Rice Hotel now sits, and the permanent capitol was located in Austin. So the square became home to the city’s public market and four city halls, a parking lot and, eventually, a park.

The first City Hall was erected in 1839. In 1873, Reconstruction Mayor Scanlan built a huge city hall, the largest in the state at the time, at a cost of $470,000. The building burnt three years later. Unfortunately for the city, it had only been insured for $100,000. The insurance company held a design competition, won by Galveston architect Edward J. Duhamel, and erected a replacement structure in 1877 costing a measly $80,000. This City Hall and Market House lasted longer, until it burnt in 1901.

Local architect George E. Dickey designed the fourth and last City Hall and Market House to sit in this square. His was a Richardsonian Romanesque design, built in 1904. On the ground floor was the Market House; above were the city offices. The Market House moved in 1929, and the city offices followed in 1939. For the next 21 years, the building was leased to Greyhound for a bus terminal. Then the inevitable happened. The building burnt. The property sat as a parking lot until the Junior League, recognizing the historical significance of the square, sponsored its conversion into a grassy park filled with monuments to Houston history in 1976.

Still surrounded on two sides by buildings erected during Civil War times, the square was originally the center of Houston’s business district. The sidewalks of the square are paved with Houston history, and the concrete benches in the center are inlaid with tiles, designed by Paul Hester, of historic newspaper images of the square. If you look closely at the photographs, you’ll be able to spot at least three of the former city halls and market houses that occupied this square.

The square sits in the center of the Main Street/Market Square Historic District. Directly across Congress Street, at 813, is the Kennedy Bakery Building, built in 1847 and said to be the oldest surviving structure in Houston still at its original location. Across from the northeast corner of the square is the Friedman Clock Tower, the original market clock from the 1904 City Hall and Market House. Treebeard’s Restaurant, in the 1870 Baker-Meyer Building, has a pretty balcony overlooking the square.

Main Street/Market Square Historic District
Next: Kennedy Bakery | Previous: Friedman Clock Tower

Name: Market Square Park

Street Location: Block bounded by Preston, Milam, Congress, and Travis Streets

Local Municipality: City

State/Province, etc.: Texas

Country: USA

Web Site: [Web Link]

Memorial/Commemoration: Commemorates Old Market Square and the structures that have sat there.

Date Established: 1986.

Picnic Facilities: None.

Recreational Facilities:

Monuments/Statues: Yes.

Art (murals/sculpture, etc.): "Points of View" by James Surls

Fountains: Yes.

Ponds/Lakes/Streams/Rivers/Beach: No.

Special Events: None.

Traditional Geocaches:

Visit Instructions:
One photo of the park that is a different view from the one on the page, and give the date and description your visit.

Add any additional information that you may have about this park. A GPSr photo is NOT required.
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