Battelstein's Building in Houston

Photo of Battelstein's Building in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz

View at I45 and Midtown

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Battelstein's Building

812 Main Street, Houston, Texas, Downtown 77002
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This is one of a number of skyscrapers that are peculiar in Houston. Most people who bother to erect a skyscraper in Texas want to show it off. They surround it with plazas, fountains, lights, or whatever in order to create pizzazz and draw in tenants. The Battelstein's Building does not appear to go that route. It appears to have been constructed with very utilitarian purposes in mind, with a minimum of ornamentation perhaps to maximize the invested dollars.

Maximizing revenue was something that Battelstein's founder, Philip Battelstein, knew a lot about. He arrived in the United States in 1897 with just a few dollars in his pocket. Within 20 years, he was in command of one of the largest department stores in Houston.

That his investment was lost in the fierce retail wars that developed in downtown Houston in the mid-20th century, leaving this building virtually abandoned just a few decades later. In essence, Battelstein's lost the battle.

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There are 10 comments.

  My dad moved to Houston from Mississippi in order to "court" my mom. He worked for Battelstein's in the late 1950's, around 1958-59. My mom worked down the street at Oschmann's, both selling fine men's clothing. Tonight, as we gathered in my dad's dining room in Mississippi, and he told stories of his courtship with my late mother, he recalled Battelstein's. I'm thankful this website showed in my google search. Daddy thoroughly enjoyed the other comments and the learning of the architectural history of this unique mid century high rise.

Amanda S - Saturday, August 9th, 2014 @ 8:18pm  

  My mother was a buyer for Battelstein's for two years in the mid-60's. She rotated among the stores (Downtown, River Oaks and Sharpstown). She enjoyed working there (although, the retail biz being what it is, she wasn't paid nearly enough). A couple of her colleagues became good friends for many years. I still have a one of her business cards.

Jay F. - Saturday, February 1st, 2014 @ 11:54pm  

  I still own a black tie with the Battlestein's label that belonged to my father.

Hart Prochazka - Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 @ 5:27pm  

  I was going though some boxes and I have found 2 hats in the box from Battlesteins, one of them is in ment condtion.

Rebecca - Thursday, July 18th, 2013 @ 8:16am  

  Thank you so much for this memory. My mother is gone and so is my grandmother on my fathers side, but when my sister and I were about 5yrs and 6yrs my mother would dress us to the nines and take us to see my grandmother who was a seamstress in the Battlestein's Dept Store after we visited for a while my mother would take us down a few blocks and visit my grandfather who worked at the Coney Island Hot Dog restaurant. He would ply us with hot dogs and Coca Cola in those small glass bottles. I remember it like it was yesterday. Thank you again.

Veronica Garcia Guidry - Saturday, December 26th, 2009 @ 5:50pm  

  My grandmother got her first job here in 1956. I didn't realize it was actually a popular place. She loved telling me about all the different floors and how she could never get the hang of the elevators... She would always end up jerking the elevator to a stop... Thank goodness for automatic ones they have now.

Samantha Williams - Monday, November 30th, 2009 @ 7:52pm  

  Last weekend I had a garage sale with my mom (87) and dad (91). As I was folding clothes for sale, I noticed an old familar shirt that I can remembering my dad wearing when I was a little girl. I took a peak at the label and there it was. Stitched and still inside my dad's shirt as new as the day we bought it, is a like new label that reads "Battelstein"s Houston" The label is white with blue letters. The shirt is in excellent condition and is now hanging in my closet. I just couldn't bear to get rid of it. Being a houstonian, I can't tell you how many times I have passed the old building.

catherine logue (Provenzano) - Saturday, October 24th, 2009 @ 2:48pm  

  I give this building 5 stars for intrigue. I've passed by it every day for the past several months while working downtown, and it's always intrigued me, wondering what it once was, admiring the gentle curve of the second level window strip opening. Finally, I just saw it in a 1950 booklet of building drawings, and now I know it was once one of the busiest dept. stores in Houston! Crazy! It always smells like a funky old basement when you walk past because of the grilles in the sidewalk blowing up basement air at you. If you want, I can scan in the drawing of it for posterity's sake.

Kitty Landholt - Friday, January 9th, 2009 @ 5:36pm  

  I love the lines of this bldg. Even though it was built before the Americana Insurance Bldg or the Houston House Highrise (where I live), it has a Mid-Century modern feel. The picture doesn't do it justice - with a little TLC, it could be made into a beatiful structure.

Byron Landiss Graves - Tuesday, August 21st, 2007 @ 3:26pm  

  My Grandmother worked for Battlestein's in this bldg. 1950's - 1960's. I can remember going up to her floor (boys dept.) and she giving me a cup of ice cream. I even did some modeling for them as a child, then as a teenager. Yes, this bldg. is special to me.

Paula Hedrick - Thursday, March 22nd, 2007 @ 10:48pm  

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