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The Big Donut


Subdude

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The city directory for 1958 lists for 2631 Bissonnet (the Marquis II location): "The Big Donut Inc." Don't know for sure if it was connected but, in the 1950's, there was a chain of drive-through donut shops that were called "Big Donut Drive-In". The Los Angeles location looked like this:

big_donut_drive-in_early_1960s_los_angeles.jpg

I think it's still there (in L.A.) - but called Randy's Donuts now. There were apparently about 9 other Big Donut Drive-Ins in the 1950's, but I don't know whether there was ever one in Houston. Maybe "The Big Donut Inc." was a copycat company.

I finally got back to the library to do a little more research - though I jumped around a bit because a lot of the city directories were off the shelf. I'll post when I've updated my notes.

I found the picture.

the_big_donut.sized.jpg

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I only recently found out that Shipley's started (in 1936) in Houston - though they're sure not bragging about it, as there's no mention of Houston in their corporate history other than the note that almost half their stores are here. The Shipley's on Ella is the oldest one I know.

shipleys.jpg

[Photo kindly shared by Houstonian]

Edited by tmariar
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Fantastic. If it was built, surely someone would remember this looming just off the corner of Kirby and Bissonnet.

The building is still there. I saw it a couple of weeks ago. When I would spend the night with my grandparents, my grandmother would always stop there on the way home from taking my grandfather to work downtown. She always ordered a dozen glazed.

I don't think any donuts today can compare with those. Shipley's comes closest.

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I only recently found out that Shipley's started (in 1936) in Houston - though they're sure not bragging about it, as there's no mention of Houston in their corporate history other than the note that almost half their stores are here. The Shipley's on Ella is the oldest one I know.

I've heard the Shipley's on North Main referred to as "Shipley's #1" before, but I'm not sure if such numeric designations represent the order in which the various stores were opened.

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I only recently found out that Shipley's started (in 1936) in Houston - though they're sure not bragging about it, as there's no mention of Houston in their corporate history other than the note that almost half their stores are here. The Shipley's on Ella is the oldest one I know.

When I used to live in Garden Oaks - I was told a few times that Mr. Shipley once lived there, and that the store on Ella was indeed the first. ...true?

EDIT: I found this: HISTORY

Shipley Do-Nuts was founded by Mr. & Mrs. L.W. Shipley Sr. in 1936, with the opening of the first Shipley Do-Nut shop on White Oak Drive and 6th St. in Houston, Texas. Mr. Lawrence Shipley, Jr. has since grown the business to its present state. The company is now entering into its third generation of ownership with Mr. Lawrence Shipley, III.

Edited by SunKing
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EDIT: I found this: HISTORY

Shipley Do-Nuts was founded by Mr. & Mrs. L.W. Shipley Sr. in 1936, with the opening of the first Shipley Do-Nut shop on White Oak Drive and 6th St. in Houston, Texas. Mr. Lawrence Shipley, Jr. has since grown the business to its present state. The company is now entering into its third generation of ownership with Mr. Lawrence Shipley, III.

Interesting. White Oak is where 6th Street would be, if there were a 6th Street, so I don't know where that intersection would be. But I don't think there's a Shipley's on White Oak anywhere any longer. Shame.

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I found the picture.

the_big_donut.sized.jpg

This is bizarre! The building pictured here would have been beautiful but the architect must have been on some kind of mind-altering trip when he dreamt this up. The donut would have been a great idea but that high up? Then again if it were a balloon it would have worked. Houstons high winds would have said Sayonara' to the big donut. :lol:

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Interesting. White Oak is where 6th Street would be, if there were a 6th Street, so I don't know where that intersection would be. But I don't think there's a Shipley's on White Oak anywhere any longer. Shame.

Actually, there is a 6th Street - White Oak only becomes White Oak west of Heights Blvd. East of the boulevard, it's 6th St. But the description "White Oak Drive and 6th St." is confusing, as they certainly don't intersect.

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Actually, there is a 6th Street - White Oak only becomes White Oak west of Heights Blvd. East of the boulevard, it's 6th St. But the description "White Oak Drive and 6th St." is confusing, as they certainly don't intersect.

also, in older maps, i think i remember seeing white oak drive as well as white oak street (in the same vicinity)

maybe one of these intersected and one was parallel to 6th?

Edited by sevfiv
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also, in older maps, i think i remember seeing white oak drive as well as white oak street (in the same vicinity)

maybe one of these intersected and one was parallel to 6th?

in my 1930's map, white oak st. has already been changed to Byrne.

but it shows white oak drive running all the way to rutland and no 6th st. (could be just a map maker oversight)

indeed, my 1957 phone book has LW Shipley living at 1310 sue barnett in garden oaks.

also lists the following shipley locations in 1957:

3930 n. main

5602 washington

2809 e. southmore

3405 jensen

and a shipley's drive inn at 6515 liberty

and the shipley flour co. at 5200 N. main.

found this in the chron archives:

It has barely been tweaked since Arkansas native Lawrence Shipley Sr. came up with the mix in the 1930s.

He sold the then-handcut treats wholesale to grocers and opened his first retail store in the 1940s.

the big donut locations are:

2631 bissonnet

5327 westheimer

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Actually, there is a 6th Street - White Oak only becomes White Oak west of Heights Blvd. East of the boulevard, it's 6th St. But the description "White Oak Drive and 6th St." is confusing, as they certainly don't intersect.

Might that have changed over time? Ever since I've been in the Heights, White Oak has been White Oak at the Studewood/White Oak intersection (per the street signs), which is east of Heights. I don't recall seeing a 6th Street sign anywhere other than the (new) 6th Street Grill. Also, when I was researching the history of the 1918 Dom Polanski Hall, which is now Fitzgerald's (at the Studewood/White Oak intersection), the address was always listed in the city directory under White Oak.

Looks on my current Google map that there is a short stretch of W. 6th Street that runs west of Heights - so perhaps mkultra was saying it starts to be White Oak just west of Heights and continues as such to the east of Heights. That looks like it may be right - I may just not have noticed 6th Street signs west of Heights before.

I hadn't heard of the White Oak Street vs. Drive distinction before. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Interesting...

[Thinking back, though, I didn't look at the city directory listings for Dom Polanski earlier than sometime in the 1930's, and the 1913 map shows 6th Street between Heights and Studewood. It appears to have changed to White Oak Drive by 1935.]

Edited by tmariar
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Trying to stay on topic, here's the 2006 Chronicle article gnu quoted from.

I see now, on the 1913 map, the "White Oak Ave." in Woodland Heights where Byrne would be. Doesn't look like it was likely to have intersected 6th Street/White Oak Drive at any point, or Sixth Street down in the 5th Ward. I'm thinking the reference SunKing found was likely a mistake - but it was interesting to learn about W. 6th Street and White Oak Avenue. Hadn't known about either, and each is or was right by me...

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Looks on my current Google map that there is a short stretch of W. 6th Street that runs west of Heights - so perhaps mkultra was saying it starts to be White Oak just west of Heights and continues as such to the east of Heights. That looks like it may be right - I may just not have noticed 6th Street signs west of Heights before.

definately says sixth street on the street signs when you come up yale (at dry creek)

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The Shipley's on N.Main was there in the early to mid 50s. There was an old man, had to have been at least forty, that cut the dough in front of a picture window. As he cut the donuts out, he'd stack them on his thumb. At that time, the cost was $.50 per dozen and after 9:00 PM (I think), they were 3 dozen for a dollar. All I remember was plain glazed and chocolate glazed.

I grew up in Oak Forest and remember when the Shipley's on Ella was built. It would have been late 50s or even early 60s.

The warehouse was on N. Main, just south of 610.

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The Shipley's on N.Main was there in the early to mid 50s. There was an old man, had to have been at least forty, that cut the dough in front of a picture window. As he cut the donuts out, he'd stack them on his thumb. At that time, the cost was $.50 per dozen and after 9:00 PM (I think), they were 3 dozen for a dollar. All I remember was plain glazed and chocolate glazed.

I grew up in Oak Forest and remember when the Shipley's on Ella was built. It would have been late 50s or even early 60s.

The warehouse was on N. Main, just south of 610.

My grandmother lived in The Heights and we went there almost every Saturday evening. Nearly every week we would stop at the Shipley's on N. Main and get 2 doz donuts for breakfast Sunday morning. I remember watching the guy making donuts just as you described, stacking them on his thumb.

I also remember stopping at a Bread bakery thrift store over on Center Street that was in a large old Victorian house. I remember thinking at the time that some of the houses around that bakery store were haunted because they were abandoned and dilapidated. Does anyone else remember that bakery thrift store? I remember there was lattice around the base and a pipe handrail leading up to the porch. It also had a screen door I think.

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definately says sixth street on the street signs when you come up yale (at dry creek)

That's the intersection & street sign I was thinking of when I wrote my earlier post - I drive by it regularly, so a 6th St. street sign was still fresh in my mind.

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Looks on my current Google map that there is a short stretch of W. 6th Street that runs west of Heights - so perhaps mkultra was saying it starts to be White Oak just west of Heights and continues as such to the east of Heights. That looks like it may be right - I may just not have noticed 6th Street signs west of Heights before.

Yeah, that was what I was trying to say. You can see on the Google map that W 6th St dead-ends into Rutland, then picks up again just past Waverly before dead-ending again just before N. Shepherd (actually, it dead-ends shortly before reaching the elevated bridge part of Shepherd that ends at Merchants Park).

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  • 11 years later...

The Big Donut, was designed by Hood-Bang Co. '50's  … in the photo attached is where the donut was to go and in blue are the guy wires holding it, after the WW2 and they wanted to buy Bomber rubber inter tube, multi patched together (never built) and fill it with helium to float (the Texas wind would have been like Wizard of OZ and Hood-Bang would have been famous flying over Houston hanging on to the Big Donut) the building is a Ranch style (that pitched roof is give away) with mid Century Mod sprinkles, the dark paint was sprayed over the Stone  and in future someone  could sand blast that paint off and the stone may have been from the quarry, same as Century Building, which Hood-Bang found a 1 of a kind stone, it is on the side of the Century Building, multi color stone, some one should stock pile the stone … I think when I went by there the place was called the Crystal Pistol and I remember looking and trying to scrap some paint off the stone … was on thick … there was nice model made and at one time going to be parking on roof, I remember going by and buying some donuts with my Dad (Drive thru) and even my young age worried about the amount of donuts they would have to sell to make the mortgage … I put the rendering on the 1st HAIF and now I can not find it …. Lucian

The Big Donut.PNG

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