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Adams Petroleum Center Proposal At Holcombe Blvd. And Fannin St.


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Adams Petroleum Company Building Proposal At 6910 Fannin St.


As Barthelme’s reputation grew, Kenneth S. “Bud” Adams, Jr. (1923–2013), was making his own mark in the oil industry. His father was head of Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. After the war, the younger Adams moved to Houston and founded the Ada Oil Company. By the mid-1950s, ready for larger offices, he purchased a thirteen-acre tract of land at the edge of the city, on Fannin Street at Brays Bayou. Across the street the Prudential Insurance Company had just erected its new regional headquarters building. They seemed to be the leading edge of a movement, with many businesses poised to abandon the downtown business district for suburban locations.

Hoping to capitalize on that trend, Adams decided to develop his large property as a mixed-use complex with office, retail, and residential components, to be known as the Adams Petroleum Center. To give credibility to such a speculative venture, Adams wanted a high-profile architect and chose Donald Barthelme to help him.

Completing such a complex would take years, so Barthelme planned to build it in stages. Phase I, a low three-story building, would house the Ada Oil Company offices. When completed, this building would serve as the base structure for Phase II, a fourteen-story tower for outside tenants, to be erected above it. The brash and colorful Adams had big plans for the rest of the complex. Phases III and IV would include office buildings, parking garages, retail shops, and residential apartments.

Adams abruptly abandoned the scheme and even declined to add the tower to his own modest building. By then he had turned his attention to another project. In August 1959, in the conference room Barthelme had designed for him, Adams and Dallas oil man Lamar Hunt announced the creation of the new American Football League. Adams would own the Houston franchise, Hunt the one in Dallas.11 Adams now planned to use the undeveloped land for offices and practice fields for his football team, to be called the Houston Oilers.



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