Battelstein's Building in Houston

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

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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