Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
C2Ag93

"The Towers"

Recommended Posts

Hi All -  I am documenting my mother and father's lives during the 1960s, specifically around the Space Race (as dad worked for NASA).  Interestingly, I have some letters my Mom wrote in 1965.  Both Mom and Dad have passed, so I cannot ask them.  And I bounced this question off some cousins who may have known, to no avail.  

 

In the May 1965 letter, my mom makes a short reference to going to "the Towers" for breakfast (no other description).  It makes me think "the Towers" was a hip place to get breakfast on a Sunday.  They went after church in West University and before seeing the Sound of Music, which was playing in the Alabama Theater on West Alabama (Upper Kirby area).  

 

Does anyone of that generation recognize what "the Towers" may be in May 1965?  It was well-known enough for my mom in a letter to her mom (who was in Europe at the time) to mention going to "the Towers".  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Just taking a stab here (and I could be completely off) but I think I might know what you are referring to.  Before The Life Science Plaza Building (2130 West Holcombe Boulevard) was built this was the site of The Towers Motor Hotel.  Not sure when it was built but do know before being demolished it was not the place it once was in it's heyday.  Wish there were pictures of it during it's glory instead of just these right before being demolished.  This just might be the place your mother was referring to and location wise would make sense (church in WestU & The Alabama Theater).

 

https://arch-ive.org/archive/towers-motor-hotel/

 

Hope this helps.  My parents were native Houstonians and are now deceased.  How I would love to still be able to pick their brains about "historic Houston"

 

 

Edited by EspersonBuildings
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks you guys!   My cousin had a complete guess (he wasnt sure, simply googled) that it was this:  https://www.houstontowers.com/  It was built before 1965, but its a complete guess and my gut says it wasn't it.  It looks like it was simply a house for a while, that someone redeveloped into a B&B. 

 

EspersonBuildings - I think your guess is the best I've heard so far!  It makes a lot of sense!  It would have been only a couple miles and a straight shot down the street from church (St Vincent de Paul) and their homes in West U, then only a couple miles to the movie up Sheppard.  The only thing, of course, that gives me pause on it being the right guess is what I see in the pictures.  Mom, Aunt Lilian and others she mentions going likely wouldn't have frequented a "motor hotel" to eat.  Not saying they were "high class", but they were the types to don nice church clothes and go see a show like the Sound of Music, so guessing they would have done a true restaurant than what I am imagining by the latter pictures.  But if you recall it being more like a nicer hotel in its "heyday", then I think you nailed it.  And I did find this on it, makes me think that even though the name was "...motor hotel", it was a nice place to eat:  https://www.ebay.com/itm/Houston-Texas-Towers-Motor-Hotel-Multiview-Vintage-Postcard-K40166-/142122913604 

 

Twinsanity02 - Thanks so much.  I wondered the same thing, whether it was the Shamrock.  It was also close to where they lived and would go to the show.  And mom and her mother were into ballroom dancing, and I recall them mentioning the Shamrock as a landmark.  It opened before 1965, so it is a possibility.  But in googling, I don't see any connection between the use of the term "the Towers" and the Shamrock, so I don't think it is it (unless someone else alive then can inform us otherwise).  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey all - I have a follow up question.  Perhaps you can FINALLY solve a puzzle that has been bugging me since it was presented.  My father worked for NASA.  Not a lot of people know that when the Manned Spacecraft Center first moved to Houston from Virginia, it was located in temporary buildings all around the Gulfgate Mall area for three years before the permanent site opened in Clear Lake.  While my dad worked at the temporary site, he would address his memorandums as "Houston 1".  People at NASA I have asked don't have a clue why. 

 

But I just noticed looking at the pictures for the Towers Motor Hotel that in the first picture near the address, it says "Houston 25, Texas".  Was there some scheme back in the day to use this numbering for areas of town?  I thought MAYBE it was simply the last two digits of a zip code, since the 77025 code is near West U. But the Towers would have been outside of that.  Same for Gulgate Mall (77001 is just north of downtown, the temporary NASA locations would have been in 77087). 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

C2Ag93, I believe you are on to something with the last two digits of the zip code. See this site: https://www.oldstuffonly.com/zip_code_date.asp . By the way, the current postal (zip) code for St. Vincent DePaul Catholic Church is 77025 so it is plausible that your parents were referring to the Towers Motor Hotel which was nearby.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe that the Houston Parks and Recreation Building ( Address: 2999 S Wayside Dr, Houston, TX 77023), close to Gulfgate once housed NASA offices.   Great building, btw. 

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are correct Naviguessor as previous AIA Houston architecture guides will attest. The architecture firm was MacKie & Kamrath the same firm that designed Temple Emanu-El on Sunset Blvd. near Rice University. As you see both are highly influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

As Specwriter has noted, until the early 60s the postal service divided its service areas into zones numbered with one, two, or three digits. I worked in the Clear Lake area at that time and I remember our zone was just "58". The area was growing so fast the postal service needed more zones which called for more digits, so they came up with the "Zone Improvement Plan" - which created the five digit ZIP codes we now use. The Clear Lake ZIP code became 77058. It still is. 

Edited by FilioScotia
adding facts
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding the Postal Zones, many thanks all!  But I'm still perplexed by my dad's use of "Houston 1".   See the attached snips.  One is from his NASA paper.  He was working in the temporary Manned Spacecraft Center buildings on I-45 near Gulfgate Mall (specifically, the Houston Petroleum Center near I-45 and Telephone).   That was 1963, so the "Postal Zone" theory may work.  It's still weird he would have done that on NASA memos (e.g. I don't write zip codes on my work memos, but then people had just moved to Houston from Langley Field in Virginia, so maybe it made more sense for them).   Then, there was a NASA news release mentioning him in 1967, and the NASA publicity office also used the "Houston 1" reference.  I asked the NASA History Office, and they had no idea why it was used.

 

 

image.png.245374009e60e9da6dd04d4e39604a90.png

image.png.7bbc9bff1f9a64e5a31194aeb43e3816.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/6/2020 at 8:56 AM, Naviguessor said:

I believe that the Houston Parks and Recreation Building ( Address: 2999 S Wayside Dr, Houston, TX 77023), close to Gulfgate once housed NASA offices.   Great building, btw. 

 

 

 

Correct.  When the Manned Spacecraft Center (now known as Johnson Space Center) first moved to Houston from Virginia, it was temporarily in buildings all over the area around Gulfgate Mall and Hobby Airport.  This was from late 1961 to March 1964, when the MSC was finally built and opened on NASA Rd. 1. 

 

Flipbook on the temporary MSC - https://uhcl-ir.tdl.org/handle/10657.1/860

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, C2Ag93 said:

I'm still perplexed by my dad's use of "Houston 1"

 

77001 is only used for PO boxes; downtown street addresses are 77002 (or 77010 for the Houston Center / DG / GRB area).  Given NASA's mission it's difficult to imagine letting its mail get outside of secure channels, so direct pickup from the post office or perhaps dedicated delivery makes sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/7/2020 at 10:02 PM, C2Ag93 said:

Regarding the Postal Zones, many thanks all!  But I'm still perplexed by my dad's use of "Houston 1".   See the attached snips.  One is from his NASA paper.  He was working in the temporary Manned Spacecraft Center buildings on I-45 near Gulfgate Mall (specifically, the Houston Petroleum Center near I-45 and Telephone).   That was 1963, so the "Postal Zone" theory may work.  It's still weird he would have done that on NASA memos (e.g. I don't write zip codes on my work memos, but then people had just moved to Houston from Langley Field in Virginia, so maybe it made more sense for them).   Then, there was a NASA news release mentioning him in 1967, and the NASA publicity office also used the "Houston 1" reference.  I asked the NASA History Office, and they had no idea why it was used.

 

 

image.png.245374009e60e9da6dd04d4e39604a90.png

image.png.7bbc9bff1f9a64e5a31194aeb43e3816.png

 

 

I found this on the wikipedia article 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZIP_Code#Early_history_and_five-digit_ZIP_Codes

 

Quote

 

The early history and context of postal codes began with postal district/zone numbers. The United States Post Office Department (USPOD) implemented postal zones for numerous large cities in 1943.[3] For example:

Mr. John Smith
3256 Epiphenomenal Avenue
Minneapolis 16, Minnesota

The "16" was the number of the postal zone in the specific city.

By the early 1960s, a more organized system was needed, and non-mandatory five-digit ZIP Codes were introduced nationwide on July 1, 1963. The USPOD issued its Publication 59: Abbreviations for Use with ZIP Code on October 1, 1963, with the list of two-letter state abbreviations which are generally written with both letters capitalized.[4] An earlier list in June had proposed capitalized abbreviations ranging from two to five letters.[4] According to Publication 59, the two-letter standard was "based on a maximum 23-position line, because this has been found to be the most universally acceptable line capacity basis for major addressing systems",[4] which would be exceeded by a long city name combined with a multi-letter state abbreviation, such as "Sacramento, Calif." along with the ZIP Code. The abbreviations have remained unchanged, with the exception of Nebraska, which was changed from NB to NE in 1969 at the request of the Canadian postal administration, to avoid confusion with the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Wayside Parks and Recreation center and adjoining park is really wonderful. I pass by it on the way to Tele Wink diner and Home depot.

If you haven't ventured into the diner you should. It's an amazing diner. Such an interesting mix of cultures.

Was the Wayside building originally built for Fluor or is that building somewhere else?

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, bobruss said:

The Wayside Parks and Recreation center and adjoining park is really wonderful. I pass by it on the way to Tele Wink diner and Home depot.

If you haven't ventured into the diner you should. It's an amazing diner. Such an interesting mix of cultures.

Was the Wayside building originally built for Fluor or is that building somewhere else?

 

I don't get out to the Tel-Wink as often as I'd like to, but it's definitely a four-star destination if you have even a passing interest in old-school diners. My parents used to go there semi-frequently when they lived in the area over sixty years ago. 

2333058391_b9672b476b_b.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi All!  Thank you so much to everyone that took the time to comment on this thread for me!  I wish I had known this time in my dad and mom's lives.  We effectively lost my father when I was 13, so I never really got the chance as an adult to learn what it was like for them in the 60s and the Space Race.  And I guess you just don't think about asking your other parent (mom) after so much time had passed.  She passed in 2015, and only after have I gotten interested in reconstructing every detail I can about their lives during the space race. 

 

Thanks so much for unlocking what "the Towers" were (I am sure the poster that suggested the one on Holcomb was right!) and the mystery of what "Houston 1" was on my dad's NASA papers.  I am sure the postal zone theory is right.

 

I may even drop into Tel-Wink at some point.  I have no evidence at all that dad, or mom and dad, ever ate there.  But it would make sense at least my dad did once or twice.  From April 1962 to around March 1964 he lived literally walking distance to it (1/4 of a mile) while he worked at the temporary NASA facilities (Houston Petroleum Center on 45 near Telephone) and the Rich Building (now Ambox) on Telephone Rd.  In my research, I have stayed away from "conjecture", but it's seems to me a certainty he would have eaten there at least once!   This site says it was relocated to its present location in 1962 (so, right around the time my dad moved there).  http://telwink.com/

Edited by C2Ag93

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...