Although many of these sites are located inside the loop, they are not technically downtown. Many of them were out in the country when built. Houston has grown up around them. In fact, the presence of many of these features in some cases led to growth in the areas that they are located.
The Shamrock opened its doors to much fanfare on St. Patrick's Day, 1949. Built by the oil wildcatter Glenn McCarthy, the supposed inspiration for the novel and film Giant , the opening party cost a reported $200,000. Some 175 movie stars were brought to Houston by train and plane for the big bash, and many more Houstonians crashed the party. With 1100 rooms, the Shamrock's single went for $6 in the 1949-50 season.
Hilton took over the operations of the hotel in 1954 and purchased it in 1955. Soon, Conrad Hilton's portrait was hanging where McCarthy's once was. Hilton continued to operate one of Houston's most luxurious hotels until 1985, when the growing Texas Medical Center purchased it. Determining that the structure was not suitable for its uses, the Medical Center destroyed the Shamrock in 1987.
Not far from the Shamrock was the Warwick Hotel. Completed in 1926 as the Warwick Apartment Hotel, a residence hotel, it was sold at auction in 1962. Oil millionaire John Mecom spent a large sum of money to update the hotel and make it into one of Houston's premiere luxury hotels. It reopened in 1964. Among the additions to the original hotel design are the upper floor which went across the top of the "U" and the famous curved restaurant with its view of Hermann Park and the intersection of South Main and Montrose. Both of these features are not shown in this postcard from the late 1920s or early 1930s.
Also missing from this postcard are the Mecom fountains built in the traffic circle seen in this card at the corner of South Main and Montrose. In the foreground is the famous statue of Sam Houston at the entrance to Hermann Park, to the right of which now is the Houston Museum of Natural History, the planetarium, and the IMAX Theatre. Just above the traffic circle on the triangle of land formed by South Main and Montrose is the Houston Museum of Fine Arts (white building with red roof). This was built on land originally part of the Hermann Estate purchased and donated by Joseph S. Cullinan, founder of the Texas Company (later Texaco). Cullinan also developed the land just to the left of the view in this postcard. It became one of Houston's most exclusive neighborhoods, Shadyside.
To the left is a linen card from 1935. I believe that's a Methodist church in the background, left.
These cards of the Warwick were printed by C. T. (Curteich) American Art of Chicago, and published by Seawall Specialty Co., Houston and Galveston. These pages are copyright © 1999 Leslie Carl Seiler. All rights reserved. Updated 31 May 1999.