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NenaE

Maxwell House History

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Never knew this: "Fords were being assembled in Houston in the 1920's, too. The Ford Company opened an assembly plant in Harrisburg in 1914 and it operated until 1942. The building the assembly plant occupied is [was] now part of the Maxwell House Coffee Plant"...found in Ray Miller's Houston, (p. 69).

I first questioned the location of Harrisburg, but then realized the East End area even close to downtown probably belonged to the city of Harrisburg until annexation by Houston. I thought it would have belonged to Magnolia Park. I grew up smelling the coffee in the air, sometimes while riding down the Gulf Freeway, especially at night, what a good memory.

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Never knew this: "Fords were being assembled in Houston in the 1920's, too. The Ford Company opened an assembly plant in Harrisburg in 1914 and it operated until 1942. The building the assembly plant occupied is [was] now part of the Maxwell House Coffee Plant"...found in Ray Miller's Houston, (p. 69).

I first questioned the location of Harrisburg, but then realized the East End area even close to downtown probably belonged to the city of Harrisburg until annexation by Houston. I thought it would have belonged to Magnolia Park. I grew up smelling the coffee in the air, sometimes while riding down the Gulf Freeway, especially at night, what a good memory.

an interesting side note--

From 1922 to 1928, 603 Avondale was the home of J. Robert & Marion Neal.

J. Robert was the VP/Asst Manager of the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company, at the time called "The world's Mightiest coffee Firm". John W Neal, his Father and the founder of tbe company, lived just down the street at 301Avondale! You may not recognize the company name, Cheek-Neill but in 1928 GeneralFoods purchased Cheek-Neil and viola---Maxwell House Coffee!

This info was part of the Historic Avondale Architecture Tour that celebrated the areas 100th birthday---

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The Neals used the proceeds from the Cheek-Neill sale to build a their next house on Lazy Lane, near the River Oaks Country Club. The house was designed by prominent Houston architect John Staub to mimic a Louis XV Chateau. It was one of the most expensive construction projects in Houston during the Great Depression. The home was recently restored by a family from New Orleans, but is not visible from the street.

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The Neals used the proceeds from the Cheek-Neill sale to build a their next house on Lazy Lane, near the River Oaks Country Club. The house was designed by prominent Houston architect John Staub to mimic a Louis XV Chateau. It was one of the most expensive construction projects in Houston during the Great Depression. The home was recently restored by a family from New Orleans, but is not visible from the street.

Now that's the kind of trivia I love to read. It's the reason I love this site so much. Thank you Dan the Man.

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I did some work in the Maxwell House plant in the early 80's. Some of the structural drawings they showed me had the Ford logo on them. The coffee silos in that plant give a spectacular view of Downtown from the East side. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me when I was on top of the silos.

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I did some work in the Maxwell House plant in the early 80's. Some of the structural drawings they showed me had the Ford logo on them. The coffee silos in that plant give a spectacular view of Downtown from the East side. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me when I was on top of the silos.

My father worked there, as well, when he was young. I love to look at old structural documents, you say "some" structural documents had a Ford emblem, possibly these particular drawings are of the original "Ford" bldg. that Ray Miller mentions. The Ford logo would prove the link between the two companies & shared set of bldgs. In such a fast-paced computer driven society, I still love these old paper documents. Does anyone know what's currently happening with this bldg?

Edited by NenaE

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I remember it blowing up in 1989 or 1990. Did that actually happen or was it a random made-up memory from my childhood?

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Probably way too much information, and yet at the same time I think I'm only scratching the surface... but here are some random tidbits regarding the Ford plant (and related topics) from the Galveston paper:

03/17/1910 - "Mrs. Ella Love, proprietress of the Sternenberg Flats, at the corner of Milam and Walker avenue, filed a petition for an injunction [in Houston] Wednesday against the Ford Motor Company, who have recently rented floor space on the ground floor of the flats for a garage and agency for the Ford car. Mrs. Love alleges that the smoke and fumes permeating from the lower rooms occupied by the Ford Motor Company are annoying to the roomers and is endangering to the building. Mrs. Love asked that the company be restrained from permitting the odorous gases and smoke to escape through the floors of the building."

10/06/1913 - "The Central Contracting Company of Detroit. Mich., has been awarded the contract to construct the assembling plant for the Ford Motor Company, on Harrisburg road property recently purchased. H. C. Beck, president of the company, has arrived in Houston to superintend the start of the work. A similar plant will be constructed in Dallas. The building will be of reinforced concrete, four stories and basement, and will cover an area of 80x300 feet. It will include a large assemblying department, a repair department, stock and salesrooms. The building is one of twenty-three assembling plants being constructed by the Ford Motor Company in various cities of the United States."

10/18/1913 - "The Ford Motor Company today secured a building permit for the construction of a building, 78x240 feet, to be erected at a cost of approximately $200,000. It will be used as an assembling plant by the Ford company, and is similar to the Ford plants in Detroit, Mich., being constructed of reinforced concrete. It will be equiped with every modern appliance for the assembling of automobiles. The building will be located at Milby street and the Harrisburg road, will be four stories high, and will be constructed by the Central Construction Company."

10/23/1913 - Ford filed suit to remove the cloud on its title to the property on Harrisburg Rd., denying the City of Houston's allegation that some of the streets through the property were public streets.

02/24/1919 - Ford announced it was "reopening" its Houston plant on March 1st, and that it would be shipping cars from the plant to South Texas and Mexico, and that it expected South America would also soon come within the trade territory of the Houston plant. [The plant had presumably been closed during World War I or used for war‑related work. In 1919, Henry Ford was in litigation with the Chicago Daily Tribune, which had called him an anarchist in an editorial because of pacifist positions he had taken in 1916, and which he had sued for libel, asking for $1 million in damages. One of the issues in that litigation was the extent to which Ford plants had been given over to war work during World War I, with Ford arguing that its Detroit plant was 100% devoted to war work at the time of the signing of the armistice, and the newspaper arguing that Ford was as profitable in war time as in peace time.]

09/23/1920 - Ford cut the price of its cars and trucks by 31%, and stated that the cut would apply not just to new orders from the Houston plant, but also to that plant's 6,000 unfilled orders pending at that time.

01/09/1921 - Ford was close to finishing a new unit at the Houston plant, a "modern concrete structure of two stories, 100 feet front by 220 feet deep." Houston was the only American city requiring expansion - some plants in other cities had even been closed.

09/20/1921 - Ford petitioned the Houston City Council to gravel Drennan St. from Texas Ave. to Harrisburg Blvd.

03/25/1922 - Ford announced that all its plants were adopting "the forty-hour week," meaning that its plants would be closed on both Saturdays and Sundays.

02/03/1924 - Photo published of a "Wald Transfer Company" moving truck built in Galveston. The caption mentions that the company that built the truck also gets orders from Ford Motor Company. [Thought the WALD photo was a bit of a coincidence given the old WALD sign in the same area as the coffee plant.]

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From the Houston Press, 8/5/46, p. 1 - General Foods Maxwell House Coffee buys the old Ford plant @ 3900 Harrisburg, will move from their current facility at 2107 Preston.

Press says the plant was built by Ford '25 years ago,' 'abandoned by Ford before the war.' It was used as an assembly plant for aircraft parts during the war and briefly as a warehouse by Pepsi after the war.

GF moved in the following spring.

The former Cheek-Neal plant on Preston still stands and is destined to be turned into lofts I think.

Houston was quite the center of coffee production in the first part of the last century. Besides Maxwell House there was Duncan's Admiration coffee ('It's cup tested.'), International Coffee Co.'s Sunset Coffee (facility also still standing), and Magnolia Coffee Co.'s Wamba brand which I believe used the slogan 'It's a good shot.'

In the 40s and 50s, most Fords on the road in Texas sported an oval sticker (the shape of the Ford logo) in the rear window or on the rear bumper or trunk lid which proclaimed 'Made in Texas by Texans.' I asked my uncle who lived in Mason Park where his was made and I think he said Fort Worth but he told me about the former Ford plant on Harrisburg which he passed on his way to work downtown every day.

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My grandfather worked at that Ford plant in the 1920's. He worked there until he hurt his back around 1925-1926. He then opened a corner grocery store and butcher shop in the Heights.

I remember he had a company photo of all of the workers at that Ford plant. The picture was huge - maybe 30 inches long or so.

Edited by native_Houstonian

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Bob Bailey link to Ford Bldg. : http://www.cah.utexas.edu/db/dmr/dmr_resul...&Submit.y=3

and another: http://www.cah.utexas.edu/db/dmr/dmr_resul...&Submit.y=4

Notice the homes in the background of the second photo. Many dealership bldg. photos are found when you do a basic "Ford auto" word search within the Bailey collection. There were quite a few.

Edited by NenaE

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Bob Bailey link to Ford Bldg. : http://www.cah.utexas.edu/db/dmr/dmr_resul...&Submit.y=3

and another: http://www.cah.utexas.edu/db/dmr/dmr_resul...&Submit.y=4

Notice the homes in the background of the second photo. Many dealership bldg. photos are found when you do a basic "Ford auto" word search within the Bailey collection. There were quite a few.

I didn't realize until your post that this Ford facility wasn't an assembly plant. It made parts. Thanks for all the info and the Bob Bailey photo. It's easy to see that building was the architectural ancestor of the present-day Maxwell House Coffee mill.

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I didn't realize until your post that this Ford facility wasn't an assembly plant. It made parts. Thanks for all the info and the Bob Bailey photo. It's easy to see that building was the architectural ancestor of the present-day Maxwell House Coffee mill.

I get the impression from the posts (see tmariars) that it might have been both, newpaper articles refer to the location as an assembly plant, later (during war yrs.) as an airplane parts assembly plant, and the photos label it as an auto parts plant. :huh: What great contributions from all, the personal stories are wonderful. I grew up in the East End and feel it is often overlooked in local Houston history books, or just minimally discussed. It's where Houston began, and holds so much history. Thnx to all for replying.

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From the Houston Press, 8/5/46, p. 1 - General Foods Maxwell House Coffee buys the old Ford plant @ 3900 Harrisburg, will move from their current facility at 2107 Preston.

...

Houston was quite the center of coffee production in the first part of the last century. Besides Maxwell House there was Duncan's Admiration coffee ('It's cup tested.'), International Coffee Co.'s Sunset Coffee (facility also still standing), and Magnolia Coffee Co.'s Wamba brand which I believe used the slogan 'It's a good shot.'

In the 40s and 50s, most Fords on the road in Texas sported an oval sticker (the shape of the Ford logo) in the rear window or on the rear bumper or trunk lid which proclaimed 'Made in Texas by Texans.' I asked my uncle who lived in Mason Park where his was made and I think he said Fort Worth but he told me about the former Ford plant on Harrisburg which he passed on his way to work downtown every day.

The architects Joseph Finger & James Ruskin Bailey were the architects of the building at Preston, built in 1917. Cheek-Neal Coffee Co. made Maxwell House coffee there. Guess they outgrew the bldg, moved in 1946...Houston Architectural Guide, S. Fox

Do hope this bldg. gets turned into lofts.

Edited by NenaE

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I ran across this while hunting for something else..."By 1922, there were 3500 gasoline-powered vehicles in the city, with a large number being produced in the area. The Ford Motor Company was assembling 350 cars per day in a factory in nearby Harrisburg". Historic Houston, Betty Chapman

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I thought I remembered being told or having read that Model T's were produced there but couldn't remember where.

Only 3500 cars by 1922?? That seems low. Even by the mid 20s there were separate Auto sections weekly in the papers - Chron and Post, anyway - filled with ads for all those makes that no longer exist. They were a real hoot to read. Mostly the ads were placed by manufacturers and just listed local dealers instead of dealer ads.

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I thought I remembered being told or having read that Model T's were produced there but couldn't remember where.

Only 3500 cars by 1922?? That seems low. Even by the mid 20s there were separate Auto sections weekly in the papers - Chron and Post, anyway - filled with ads for all those makes that no longer exist. They were a real hoot to read. Mostly the ads were placed by manufacturers and just listed local dealers instead of dealer ads.

The book did list other car names, some were funny-sounding :lol: , I love to see those old newspaper ads. Seems that Houston has always had a love-affair w/cars!

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Here is a photo of the original Maxwell Houston coffee plant on Preston St. that has been referred to in this thread. The building is a protected landmark and will be converted into some kind of lofts. It was built in 1917 and the coffee plant stayed here until around 1945.

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What I find unique about this building is that it is one of a few in Houston that still has a storage tank on its roof. Granted, the tank is rusted out and needs to be replaced, I hope that it is replaced when the building gets renovated.

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What I find unique about this building is that it is one of a few in Houston that still has a storage tank on its roof. Granted, the tank is rusted out and needs to be replaced, I hope that it is replaced when the building gets renovated.

I believe the Ford plant was on Harrisburg, not Preston St. It's current site of the coffee plant (used to be Maxwell House, now it's some other name).

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I believe the Ford plant was on Harrisburg, not Preston St. It's current site of the coffee plant (used to be Maxwell House, now it's some other name).

Yes, the Ford plant was on Harrisburg but the building on Preston St. was the original site for the Maxwell House plant before it moved to the Ford plant in the 1940s.

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