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Grasshopper Bar Building History


editor

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When I worked for the Historic District back in the 90's, I put together history of the buildings within our boundary. While there was not much to be found on this particular building, I was able to determine that it was originally built priior to 1885. It was remodelled in 1928, to it's current appearance, by reknowned Houston architect, James Ruskin Bailey.

If I can find any further info in my notes, I'll relay it.

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Editor,

You are right, there is not a lot of information that I could find on that building. It was a slow Friday so I decided to do some digging on this property myself today. I took a lucky guess and decided that maybe the same person who sold the F.W. Stegemann property next door might have owned this lot too at one time and this turned out to be right. I didn't go back to the very beginning, but pretty close.

Following the Stegemann connection I found a deed from 1842 that explained everything back to 1840.

On the 10 day of June 1840 W.N.A. Smith obtained a judgement against Samuel Whiting in a suit. As judgement settlement, lot 4 in block 57 was auctioned off and James Bailey won the auction and offered to buy on time for a total of three hundred and thirty-six dollars and 13 cents. The Judgement bond became due and Bailey didn't pay so the property was auctioned off again. This time E.S. Perkins won the bid for the property for three hundred and thirty-three dollars. The deed mentions improvements on the property, but I don't think this was the buiding that is on there now. The sale to E.S. Perkins took place March 1st, 1842.

E.S. Perkins traded the property back and forth with Levi Butler over a few years and wound up with it again in the end. The lot was not sold again until 1875 when the District Court ordered the sale in the probate of E.S. Perkins, H.E. Perkins and Ann W. Perkins.

At that time the administrator of the estate divided lot 4 in half and sold the south side to M. Stubenrauch who already owned lot 3. The north half of lot number 4 in block 57 (The Grasshopper lot) was sold to F.A. Sawyer for $3000.00. The deed was dated 16 Nov. 1875 and didn't mention improvements.

(M. Stubenrauch is Maximilianum (Max) Laurentium Stubenrauch, born in September of 1841 in Germersheim, Pflaz, Bavaria. He came to New Orleans in 1857 at the age of 16. He married Selma Reissland in New Orleans. Selma was from Coberg, Saxony. He had a boot/shoe store in New Orleans, but in 1865 he moved to Houston from New Orleans and opened another boot/shoe store on Main Street between Prarie and Texas. He died April 6, 1894)

M_Stubenrauch_Receipt.jpg

On 20th of February of 1884 Frederick A. Sawyer sold (gave) the lot to his wife, Margaret E. Sawyer. This is where the story gets interesting becaue the deed mentions "It is the same property now occupied by Schott and Colby as a Drug Store". When I look at the 1885 Sanborn map of that property it said "Drugs" over that building.

86_Main_1885_Sanborn.jpg

I would have to look at the tax records next to see when the property value took a jump up to try to determine when the building was built, but it appears it was before 1884. It was sometime between 1875 and 1884 and must have been built by Frederick A. Sawyer.

In 1893 Margaret E. Sawyer died and left her estate to her daughter-in-law Kate with her son Frank as executor. The probate had the following wording about that lot:-

"The following inventory and appraisement of all the property belonging to said Estate to wit: 1st an undivided one half interest in and to Lot 4 in Block 57 situated on the South side of Buffalo Bayou in the City of Houston, Harris County Texas and the improvements thereon which improvements to consist of a two story brick Building fronting on Main Street. One half of said property being the value of Ten Thousand Dollars."

The daughter Kate sold the property in 1893 to a firm called Lewis & Rosenberg. (Aaron Lewis and Isidor Rosenberg) for $10,000. Part was paid in cash and part was mortgaged.

I checked the 1894-95 City directly for the name Colby and found this entry:

Colby Frank H., agt Fidelity Mutual Life Ass'n of Philadelpha, office 506 Main, bds. F. Schweikert.

I didn't follow the deeds any further forward or backwards, but I am satisfied that I learned something about how that building came to be.

I found Frederick A. Sawyer in the 1870 census with his wife Maggie and son. He was 50 and she 37 and son Frank was 3. Frederick's occupation was Jeweler. Frederick was from NY and Margaret from Ohio. Son Frank was born in Texas.

I found Erastus Perkins in the 1870 census living in the 3rd ward with Henry E. Perkins, Ann W. Perkins and some children. Erastus is 68 and is a retired merchant. Henry E. is a lawyer and Ann is keeping house.

A Google search produced this for Perkins.

Inn at the Ballpark Web site:

Site History - 1520 Texas Avenue - Did You Know...

1860-1926

House and Garden for Erastus S. Perkins

(1508 Texas Avenue, between La Branch and Crawford)

City block shared by other residential structures

And this from a site on German Landscape Designers in America:

In 1844, architect F. Jacob Rothhaas, came to Houston, probably from New York, at the request of two other New York immigrants, Erastus S. Perkins and George Allen, a brother of Houston

Edited by isuredid
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The deed was dated 16 Nov. 1775 and didn't mention improvements.

I would have to look at the tax records next to see when the property value took a jump up to try to determine when the building was built, but it appears it was before 1884. It was sometime between 1775 and 1884 and must have been built by Frederick A. Sawyer.

I'll assume that you mean 1875. In 1775 the only inhabitants of the area were mosquitoes!

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See my previous post above

Continuing my research, I found that 506 Main previously had the address of 86 Main up until 1892-93. Here is the first listing I could find for that address in the city directory of 1880-81. John J. Burroughs Druggist. So it appears that for the first several years of the buildings existence, it was a drug store. Something I read online said that it was first a barber shop, but I think that was only because that was from the first directory that had street listings and even then it was a barber shop within a cigar store.

86_Main_1880.jpg

In the early 1880s Schott & Colby Druggist, mentioned in the F.A. Sawyer deed to his wife in 1884, took over that business. In the 1884 directory they had running advertisements across the tops of many pages:

Schott_and_Colby_1884.jpg

After 1884 Colby took over the business on his own and contiued to run adds across the top of some pages in the city directory

FH_Colby_86_Main.jpg

After Colby another druggist named Lankford used that building

Lankford_86_Main.jpg

Lanford was still operating out of that building when the address change took place in 1892-93

Lankford_506_Main.jpg

Here is the E.S. Perkins residence etching from the 1869 Wood Map

ES_Perkins_Residence.jpg

Here are the Tax Roll Valuations starting in 1877 to 1892

1877 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $2500

1878 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $3000

1879 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $4000

1880 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $4000

1881 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $5000

1882 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $5000

1883 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $5000

1884 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $5000

1885 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $5000

1886 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $5000

1888 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $6000

1889 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $6000

1891 F.A. Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $8000

1892 Margaret Sawyer - 1/2 of lot 4 in blk 57 - $11000

Edited by isuredid
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I found out when that building was built. It was 1878 and it cost $5400 to build. It was originally called the Sawyer building and probably should still be called the Sawyer building. There was an article in the Galveston Daily News on September 15, 1878 about the buildings that had been built in Houston over the last year. It had this entry "Sawyer's two story brick on Main Street, $5400".

There was a fire in the building on Feb 11, 1888 that destroyed Mr. Colby's stock and did $2000 worth of damage to the building:

506_Main_Colby_Fire.jpg

506_Main_Colby_Fire4.jpg

From 1882:

Schott_and_Colby_1882.jpg

An interesting article about Colby's partner Justus Schott of Galveston in the Texas Handbook Online

Justus J. Schott Article

Edited by isuredid
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You can get a sense of what the Sawyer building (Grasshopper bar) looked like before the remodel from this photo of the Stegemann building. The druggist Kiesling in the advertisement out front had previously been located in the Sawyer building. The edge of the Sawyer building is visible in the far left of the photo.

FW_Stegeman_old_picture1.jpg

Kiesling in 1896 city directory was in the Sawyer building:

Kiesling_1896.jpg

Edited by isuredid
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  • 3 weeks later...
Wow. Fantastic information. Thanks for all that hard work!

I actually followed back to the beginning. In 1838 A.C. Allen sold the entire block to Moseley Baker, one of the participants in the battle of San Jancito. As you probably know that is the block that contained the old Capitol building, which became the Capitol Hotel.

Old_Capital_Hotel_Wood_Map.jpg

The same year, 1838, Moseley Baker sold to Samuel Whiting and the story follows forward from there as above.

In 1893 Lewis & Rosenberg sold the lot and building to a man named Jeremiah L. Mitchell.

Lewis_And_Rosenberg_Receipt.jpg

J.L. Mitchell owned a popular jewelry story in Houston for over 50 years. When J.L. Mitchell died in 1920 the lot and building went to his wife Hattie Allen Mitchell. When she died a few years later their son, Jerry Mitchell inherited the building.

In 1928 Jerry Mitchell and his wife at the time, Jewel Mitchell formed a trust and all their property, including 506 main went into the trust. Jerry and Jewel Mitchell were divorced and later Jerry Mitchell married again and formed another Trust. That trust left most of the estate to the Methodist Hospital. That building was tied up in those two trust until 1998 when it was sold by the trust to 15/21 Japhet Realty Ltd for $10 and other valuable considerations.

JL_Mitchell_Receipt-1.jpg

Edited by isuredid
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That building was tied up in those two trust until 1998 when it was sold by the trust to 15/21 Japhet Realty Ltd for $10 and other valuable considerations.

Great work, and very interesting.. How'd you find all those sources?

How'd Japhet Realty land a deal for that prime building for ten bucks in '98? Must be quite some other valuable considerations..

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Great work, and very interesting.. How'd you find all those sources?

How'd Japhet Realty land a deal for that prime building for ten bucks in '98? Must be quite some other valuable considerations..

I see these types of deed records from time to time and have always wondered about the "other valuable considerations" part. If someone knows please fill me in.

15/21 Japhet Realty Ltd is principally owned by Mike and Zalman Melnik. They had a metal recyling business called HouTex which they sold to another larger company call Metal Management Inc in 1997. This 15/21 Japhet Realty LTD. seems somehow tied to that same deal. How the deal with Methodist and The Jerry and Jewel Mitchell Trust came about I have no clue.

Most of the sources were just deed records, but I did look at the Mitchell probate cases for both Hattie Allen Mitchell and Jerry L. Mitchell.

The Max Stubenrauch biography came from a book

"History of Texas, together with a biographical history of the cities of Houston and Galveston : containing a concise history of the state, with portraits and biographies of prominent citizens of the above named cities, and personal histories of many of the early settlers and leading families. "

Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1895,

The receipts came from contemporary probate cases. It would make sense that sick or dying people would be using doctors and pharmacist.

I already knew something of the history of the Stegemann building and already had that photo. I'm still looking for a front facing photo of the Sawyer Building from a time before the remodeling.

The info on when the building was built came from Galveston Daily News for 9/15/1878 which you can search online through the HPL site

Sawyer_Building_09_15_1878_GDN.jpg

Edited by isuredid
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This photo isn't very sharp, but it's a lucky one because it caught the building during the brief time when housed the Schott & Colby Druggist establishment. This photo is from 1884.

Schott_and_Colby_Photo_1884.jpg

The Stegemann and the Sawyer buildings

500_ws_Main.jpg

Edited by isuredid
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  • 6 years later...

The M. Stubenrauch receipt in the image above was written to Louis J. Tuffly, co-founder of the Krupp & Tuffly shoe store.  Louis was the guardian of his wife's younger brother, Walter T. Tuffly, who, incidentally, was my great granduncle.  Can anyone make out the name of the item?  It looks like  "1 pair Opera Seizzers."

Edited by billbremer
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