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Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
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Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
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Once, this was the crown jewel of Houston's skyline, and today is the only full-blown example of Italian Renaissance architecture in the downtown. It is wonderfully detailed with columns, great urns, terraces, and a grand tempietto at the top similar to one built in 1502 in the courtyard of San Pietro in Rome. It is lit up at night. Because of its history, this structure is properly referred to in the plural. Mellie Esperson had the building constructed for her husband, Niels, a Texas real estate and oil tycoon. His name is carved on the side of the building in large letters at street level. The name "Mellie Esperson" is carved on her accompanying structure, known as the Mellie Esperson building. It is really just a 19-story annex to the originally building, and the reason the two are termed collectively. The Esperson buildings have the curious habit of popping up when you least expect it in the city's skyline. Because of its central location and lack of any taller next-door neighbors, this architectural ghost of the Espersons is able to haunt millions of people daily from its lofty perch.
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There are 22 comments.
Was working at a law firm located in the Niels Esperson, and was told this by a woman who would arrive earlier before me. We had heard the ghost stories having worked there for awhile, and no one else was around in the office except for another next door.Standing in the kitchen with her back to the door, my co-worker heard someone step inside on the hard granite floor. "Stephanie?" she called, and turned to look.No one was there. She scurried back to her desk, not moving til someone else arrived."And I know what high heels sound like!" she told me.The second event occurred before I worked there, though I met the one who had the scare.She was working very late at night, setting up the office, everything was very still and she was alone.Suddenly in the office next to hers, the file cabinet drawers began opening and slamming shut. The drawers didn't stop, so she called security (from under her desk) and described the disturbance.Security came to the front door and began knocking so she could let them in.Not hearing their knocking, the security office called her informing the terrified woman, they were at the door, "could you let them in?" "Like I'm not moving from under my desk!" she cried.They convinced her she had to open the door as they had no key. With them inside, she got her things and ran out
RJ - Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 @ 5:13pm
I worked in the Esperson building from 2005-2009. We were the largest tenant(occupied entire 13th floor of both buildings. We moved in 2009 to nearby building at Louisiana and Rusk. Was a cool place to work. However it wasnt an efficient business space. Too many pillars and cubbyholes. I think a couple of people still park in the garage however.
MARK LEISEROWITZ - Sunday, August 24th, 2014 @ 5:29pm
I had the pleasure of working on the large chiller installation as well as the electrical upgrade that took place there in the early 2000's. We were working at night, gave us a chance to hear all the mysterious noises that the building had to offer. There were the nights when we had the power completely shut off to swap systems, talk about an eerie feeling, those tunnels in complete darkness are no joke.
John C. Rosas - Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 @ 1:32pm
My grandfather Harry Earl Weaver was one of the architects for the Mellie; it's great that so many people love the building.
Earl M Weaver Jr - Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 @ 3:11pm
I have always admired this building,my uncleand I would climb to the top of a cotton treeso we could see this building and theweather ball on top of the gulf building. Wewere maybe 10 years old, this was in the1950's. Now years later after going there as acourier, I found out that my Mom was anelevator operator
James R Manuel - Saturday, August 17th, 2013 @ 1:56pm
I am a also a native Houstonian & always loved this buidling. My dad worked at Transco, in the old building on Travis & Elgin & we would go on Sunday rides through downtown just to look at the Esperson Bldg. It is such a fabulous design. Very ornate & I agree w/ an earlier poster-it does look like a wedding cake top!
Jan Ely Aronson - Thursday, November 17th, 2011 @ 5:57pm
I used to work at the Mellie Esperson building and it always freaked me out. Every morning when I would enter the building, the elevator that I needed to take would arrive right before I would push the button. No one would ever be in the elevator. Sometimes the elevator would stop between floors. I hated taking the elevator but the stairs were much creepier. When I would work late nights by myself, I would sometimes hear footsteps coming down the hall, but I was the only person on that floor. I love the building but it definately creeped me out.
Samantha - Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 @ 8:58pm
I had the honor of working for the firm that owned these magnificent.bldgs. I loved the 25 yrs there!
NJacobson - Friday, December 21st, 2007 @ 8:41pm
This is the most incredible building! I love it so much that I have a picture of it in my home. My boyfirend was a helicopter pilot and he took me on my first ride to see the Esperson building 18 years ago. I have had one opportunity to go up inside the cupola. It has door knobs that have Neils crest on them. I think it is better than the Empire State Building.
Ann - Friday, November 2nd, 2007 @ 3:55pm
I was born and raised in Houston, and I so clearly remember that building in our skyline. It has always been my favorite building in downtown. I consider myself truly fortunate, now, to work in a building that has a view of the Mellie Esperson building. I can just look over and see her whenever I please.
Debbie - Wednesday, July 18th, 2007 @ 11:40pm
My grandfather was the caretaker of this building when my mother was a child. I suppose this had to be around 1932 or earlier. I have a pin he was awarded by the building owners, I suppose. I want to go a tour this building if possible.
L, C, P. - Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 @ 6:38pm
I love this building. I used to work in the Mellie Esperson part for a large bank. Whenever I could I would explore these buildings. This was in the early 1990's and there was a fair amount of vacant space with empty offices with names on the doors for people who had since died. The dome and offices at the top of the Neils part were empty at the time and it was a great place to explore. I'm not too much of a believer in ghosts or spirits of the dead, but if they do exist in Houston, they are in the Neils Esperson Building, no question about it. Spooky and wonderful, this may be my favorite Houston building. A real treasure. In a city where almost everything old or historic has been torn down, we are lucky to still have this great place intact.
Mike Perkins - Thursday, February 15th, 2007 @ 7:02pm
My father, Charles A. Zachry, worked as an elevator mechanic for the Esperson Buildings in the 50's & 60's. His "office" was located in a room on the 18th floor of the Niels Esperson Bldg. behind a bank of elevators. He would take me to work with him on the day of the Houston Fatstock Show & Rodeo Parade when I was just a child. I looked forward to visiting my Dad at work. He once took me up to the top of the building where no one else could go. My Father died of a heart attack in 1967 while he was at work in the Esperson Bldg. I have recurring dreams about being back in the buildings. I have wanted to return to the room on the 18th floor where my father worked but never have. I hope to go back for a visit in the near future. Perhaps his spirit is also there roaming the building. Carol
Carol Lynne Zachry Phillips - Tuesday, August 29th, 2006 @ 11:35am
As a child, I thought the top of the bldg. looked like a wedding cake topper. I am a native Houstonian.
Patricia Mann - Thursday, June 22nd, 2006 @ 11:06pm
The Esperson is still the "crown jewel" of our great State. Anyone with an appreciation for art, history or architecture should visit this beautiful building.
Diane Rose - Wednesday, April 26th, 2006 @ 4:59pm
I worked in the tunnel system under the Mellie Esperson Annex for a major healthcare organization. We had many problems in our suite that were for the most part unexplained. When I started working fulltime in the tunnel office, I often had to work alone and I ALWAYS felt that someone was in the office with me (the office was quite cavernous)when I knew I was ALONE and the side door locked.
When they started doing some major renovations to the street level above the office, I started "feeling" that someone was in the office and things would be moved, doors locked, the microwave in the kitchen changed.
It got so bad that I forced the building management to come down and check, changed the side door lock, locked all the doors leading to the side door exit but it STILL occurred. I was quite the LAUGHINGSTOCK among my coworkers because of this. While I worked there I never knew that Mellie Esperson supposedly haunted.
It was 2yrs later that I found out that Mellie Esperson supposedly haunted the elevators and annex when I was looking up hauntings because of a movie that was out at the time.
I guess Mellie must have liked me because she never stopped the elevator on me and she must have known I had an aversion to small enclosed spaces. I think she was just lonely and felt my loneliness at being stuck in an office alone for 8hrs a day and wanted to make contact with someone. When I found the website and story I sent it to my Director and felt justified that indeed SOMEONE was there all that time.
E.J. Singer - Saturday, May 14th, 2005 @ 12:14am
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