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Houston's oldest businesses


houwest

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I had lunch in today - here's the Reader Digest Version of this thread:

( I added a few I thought of as I typed)

Baker, Botts 1840 or 1874

Galveston Daily News 1842

Imperial Sugar 1843

Glenwood Cemetery 1872

Incarnate Word Academy 1873

Southland Hardware 1874

Westheimer Transfer & Stg. 1883

Schuttes Corner 1885 Galveston

Bering Hardware 1886

St. Joseph Hospital 1887

Houston Daily Court Review 1889

Schotts Bakery 1893

Montalbano Lumber Co. 1900

St Thomas High School 1900

Houston Chronicle 1901

Settegast Kopf Funeral Dir 1901

KBR 1901 as Brown and Root

Chenvron-Texaco 1901 as the Texas Company

Sewart & Stevenson 1902

Shudde Bros Hats 1907 moving remaining operation to Brookwood

Teas Nursery 1910 same location since 1910

Gaidos - Galveston 1911 Galveston

Humble/Exxon 1911 as Humble Oil and Refining

Star Furniture 1912 same family owned, recently bought out by Berkshire Hathaway

Original Mexican Caf

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Saint Arnold has been around since 1994-we turn 14 June 7th, and, for a microbrewery, that's a lifetime!

FM

Houston is lucky to have St. Arnold's - hope 14 years is just the beginning.

Thanks, houwest, for the list.

Wabash Antiques & Feed Store on Washington can trace the feed-store side of the business back to "around the turn of the century."

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Thanks for compiling the list houwest. Looks like we missed Avalon Diner, 1938, and Barbecue Inn, 1946.

Since it comes all the way down to 1962 we could also add Antone's for that year.

I've wondered about Buffalo Hdwe in the same center with the original Avalon and the car dealership that was at that corner - Demontrond Buick, I think. There are still Demontrond dealerships around the area.

Of course, if we're going to include Galveston, why not others in the boonies and burbs? That would easily add another 20 or 30 to the list, probably.

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I've wondered about Buffalo Hdwe in the same center with the original Avalon

You make a good point...Both Buffalo Hardware and Avalon Barber Shop are original tenants of the Avalon Community Center, which is what that shopping center was known by originally. I would put them both down for 1955 unless you can fird some earlier reference.

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Teas Nursery is how old???

I was Googling around looking for landscaping services, and Teas Nursery popped in. I was very surprised to learn that Teas is one of the oldest continuously operating businesses in the entire country. It opened in 1843 in Indiana, and moved to Houston in 1910.

Here's a link to the Teas website. http://www.teasnursery.com/history.html

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  • 2 months later...
In trying to figure out which is the oldest bar in Houston, I realized that what business is the "oldest" in a category can depend a lot on the details (does the business need to have been operating under the same name? at the same location? uninterrupted? what counts as a "bar" (or restaurant, or whatever the category)? etc.). Still, I love hearing about long-running Houston businesses, so I hope you get some good responses. Especially if there are other businesses that have been in operation here since before 1900 - that's really interesting.

Shudde Bros. has been in business since 1907, I think, though they recently moved from Washington Ave.

Kaplan's Ben Hur recently closed after being in business since 1913.

I have some pre-1900 copies of the Houston Chronicle Daily Post, and will check them later for familliar names. I think there were some Foley Bros. ads in there.

Was driving down Washington Street area, close to Downtown yesterday, that Shudde Bros. Bldg. made me turn around & go back for another look. The sign w/"Hatters" is what caught my eye first. I really hope they preserve this bldg. It's great. Can't believe they would leave it. The streets around it are unbelievable, Red Brick paved. Other noticables were: Dow School - 1900 Kane, Huston Drugs - 2119 Washington, Red Brick House - 1805 Decatur w/porte-cochere, Gas Station - 2101 Washington at Henderson (suttle Art Deco features, tin roof). :wub:

Edited by NenaE
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  • 3 weeks later...
Indeed they are very open, and going strong. Many many homes in Houston have been built with the superior lumber from the Montalbano family. Big Johnny has been at the helm of the flagship Houston store for a long time, and his son John Jr is currently working his way up there, as he has done since a child, and his brother Vincent is working under their Uncle's tuttlege at the Shepherd store. A great family that has done alot for Houston, I have been friends of theirs for a long time. Interesting story, Francesco Montalbano, the original who immigrated to the US from Italy, was going through NOLA entering the country, he could only say in english "mill" as his former occupation, so they put him to work in a saw mill in East Texas, he actually worked in a flour mill. He saved money and moved to Houston to start a grocery market, and sold firewood on the side. The wood business worked for him far more than the food business did, and that's how the family was transformed into the lumber biz. His son Joseph married Sadie Butera before taking over the business from Francesco. Mama Sadie was a great woman who recently passed away. They are cousins to the Buteras, Carrabba's, Mandola's, Maida's, and many other Italian families in Houston.

Another note, if schools count, St. Thomas High School has been around since 1900 and is going strong, IWA downtown predates it though I know.

When I went to grade school in 1948 it was an old facility @ that time. Upon my extended absence {sum 56 years} I returned for a vist/tour in Jan this year and was stunned to discover that the original bldg's were still in use today. The school I'm referring to is Robt. Browing grade school {Heslep @ Northwood} And the school opened in 1902, makinging it 106 years old this year {2K8}

Respectfully

Danny

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  • 3 months later...

Another correction to houwest's list in post # 51 - One's a Meal.

According to their website, they started in 1920 on Rusk as Brooks System Sandwiches. I had previously found evidence of them as early as 1933 but hadn't ever checked the old phone directories.

I first ate at one on Almeda around Blodgett in 1963 and it was known as Brooks System Sandwich Shops, Ones-a-Meal.

Interesting history on their website; claims to have been the first all night restaurant in Houston.

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SweeneyJewelers1.jpg

I noticed this ad recently in an old yearbook. I was curious if Sweeney's was still in business, so I did a little research and found that they are, but under the name of Sweeney & Co Jewelers. While looking, I also found some other interesting tidbits surrounding Sweeney's...

I think most, if not all the jewelry stores in early Houston, were family owned/operated and gradually succumbed to the larger wholesale jewelry operations. Some that I remember from the 50's, besides Sweeney's, were Corrigan's, Lechenger's, and Gordon's.

Sweeney's and Corrigan's were bought out by Bailey Banks & Biddle I think in the 90's.

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  • 2 months later...

i couldn't find out the exact date, except more than 70 years, but moeller's bakery which is now on bellaire boulevard. it was originally in the village and had the best crumb cake. used to get my doll birthday cakes there as a kid. family favorites are the ginger bread men and dinosaurs.

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SweeneyJewelers1.jpg

I noticed this ad recently in an old yearbook. I was curious if Sweeney's was still in business, so I did a little research and found that they are, but under the name of Sweeney & Co Jewelers. While looking, I also found some other interesting tidbits surrounding Sweeney's...

They were originally housed here, when they first went into business.

It appears they occupied several locations downtown before settling into their final location in that area as noted on the ad above.

A picture of that location in 1929 is shown in this publication by Story Sloane of Sloane Gallery...

th_SweenyJewelersSloane.jpg

I'm not sure, but I think they vacated there in the mid-50's.

Here is something else I came across... This old clock was built in 1908 and placed in front of the J. J. Sweeney Jewelry store where they were located then at 409 Main Street. It remained in front of the store from 1908-1928, where it was also used as a hitching post for horse drawn carriages.

Donated by the store to the City of Houston in 1929, the clock was moved to the downtown Farmer's Market and later to the courtyard of a municipal building near the Jefferson Davis Hospital.

By 1968 the clock had deteriorated badly. It was restored and moved to its present location, the Sweeney triangle in 1971 with funds provided by the Colonial Dames of America. A base for the 15-foot timepiece was made using paving bricks from historic Navigation Street."

SweeneyClock2.jpg

Present location in the park bounded by Capitol, Rusk and Bagby.

SweeneyClock.jpg

I think most, if not all the jewelry stores in early Houston, were family owned/operated and gradually succumbed to the larger wholesale jewelry operations. Some that I remember from the 50's, besides Sweeney's, were Corrigan's, Lechenger's, and Gordon's.

That "Sweeney" typesetting is really nice. Believe I saw a pic last night in one of my books, or on the Bob Bailey collection site that has that same lettering, may have been in neon.

I remember Reiners Jewelry store, not in business now. It was located by that old bank Akeem bought. Was a family jewelry business, as well. Was there for many years.

Edited by NenaE
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  • 2 months later...

Houston Jewelry is a member of the Jewelers of America JA100 Club, for jewelers that are over 100 years old. Houston Jewelry was also awarded a "Texas Treasure Award" from the Texas Historical Commission in September 2008. The establishment date the Commission went with is 1866. The family store started as Ephraim & Rosenfield in the 1860's on Main Street, listed in the 1866 Houston City Directory as "Third Door from Perkins Corner". In 1953 the family turned the focus to primarily jewelry as Houston Wholesale Jewelers at Main & Rusk, and in the 60's enlarged it as Houston Jewelry & Distributing Company, by the 90's it transformed back into a jewelry & gift store, Houston Jewelry.

post-5482-1241338288_thumb.jpg

post-5482-1241338340_thumb.jpg

post-5482-1241338594_thumb.jpg

Edited by Shamrock1949
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That "Sweeney" typesetting is really nice. Believe I saw a pic last night in one of my books, or on the Bob Bailey collection site that has that same lettering, may have been in neon.

I remember Reiners Jewelry store, not in business now. It was located by that old bank Akeem bought. Was a family jewelry business, as well. Was there for many years.

Reiner's Jewelry is very much still in business, they moved out of downtown in the late 80's early 90's to an old house on Westheimer just east of Kirby on the North side of the street.

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That "Sweeney" typesetting is really nice. Believe I saw a pic last night in one of my books, or on the Bob Bailey collection site that has that same lettering, may have been in neon.

I remember Reiners Jewelry store, not in business now. It was located by that old bank Akeem bought. Was a family jewelry business, as well. Was there for many years.

Sweeney's was acquired by the larger Houston based family jewelry chain, Gordon's Jewelers in the 50's or 60's as their guild division. The Gordon family sold out to the Dallas based Zales Jewelry company in the late 80's early 90's. In the Late 90's Zales decided to cut marketing expenses and consolidate all their guidl division stores into one brand, and they chose the oldest brand, Bailey, Banks & Biddle. The two old Houston Brands, Corrigan's & Sweeny's disappeared. In late 2006 Zales sold that division to Finley Jewelry company.

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