Historic Structures

John H Houghton House, Autin Texas

The Houghton House was built in the last half of the 1880s by one of the leading families in Austin. John Henry Houghton, who was born in 1847, spent his early years attempting to reclaim the position and wealth his family had lost during the Civil War. He began as a teamster hauling goods from Hempstead, which was the nearest railhead to Austin and Georgetown. After a sucessfull business venture in Georgetown, Houghton moved to Austin where, by the 1879-1880 city directory, he had formed a partnership with J.H. Robinson as wholesale dealers in wines, liquors, cigars and tabacco. In addition to the lucrative wholesale business, Houghton invested heavily in ranch lands. In the last five years of his life the partnership was dissolved so Houghton could devote his full time to cattle interests and his duties as first vice-president of the American National Bank in Austin. Houghton died in 1910, and upon the death of his wife the following year, the property was inherited by their daughter, Josephine Houghton Allen and her husband, Wilbur Price Allen. Allen was a successful lawyer, banker, rancher, and capitalist. Since the late 1920s, the house has been used for a variety of purposes such as apartments, offices, and shops. No original drawings or plans have been located. Early photographs do document that the house was L-shaped with an open two-story porch on the inward portion of the L. The iron fence which surrounded the property appears in photographs dating from the late nineteenth century to 1958. The Carriage House was built circa 1890 and was separated from the adjoining yard by a high board fence.

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Houston Astrodome, Houston Texas

Originally called the Harris County Domed Stadium, the Astrodome was completed in 1964. Conceived as the home of the Houston Colts and the Houston Oilers, it was termed by many as the Eighth Wonder of the World. It was the first time that a stadium was built for both baseball and football that was totally enclosed and fully air-conditioned. The building covers 9.14 acres of land. Circular in shape, the outer diameter of the Astrodome is 710', and the clear span of the dome roof is 642'. Houston's baseball and football teams no longer use the Astrodome. The Astros now play at Minute Maid Park, and the Houston Texans play at Reliant Stadium. In the 1960s, many businessmen pondered over the possibility of bringing a national baseball team to Houston, Texas. However, the challenges in Houston appeared to be insurmountable, not from the point of view of patronage and fan support for the game, but from the vagaries of the Houston weather coupled with heat, humidity, and mosquitoes that would make either playing or watching ballgames an unpleasant experience. However, one businessman dared to dream about a fully air-conditioned stadium, which had never been done before. This man was Roy M. Hofheinz (1912- 1982), a Houston politician and entrepreneur. He had the distinction of being the Harris County judge from 1936 to 1944, and then mayor of Houston from 1953 to 1955. After serving as the Harris County judge, he became known as Judge Roy Hofheinz for the rest of his life.

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Pittsburgh Steel Company Monessen Works, Monessen Pennsylvania

This large steel works is located at a bend in the Monongahela River, about forty miles by river from Pittsburgh. The works encompasses nearly 300 acres and extends more than two miles along the riverfront in Monessen. It includes fifty-six Koppers underjet-type by-product coke ovens, three blast furnaces, a basic-oxygen process shop, a five-strand bloom caster, a universal rail and structural rolling mill, shop facilities, and offices. Among the defunct operations are the blooming, billet, and bar mills, the rod mills, and the wire mills. The older buildings appear to be at the upstream end of the works and include a number of large one story brick buildings with interior steel frames, gable roofs, and monitors. The most architecturally ornate building is the three-and-one-half story office with arched windows, brick walls, and hipped roof. Two of the blast furnaces date from 1916, though they have probably been refurbished at least once since the time of their construction. The by-product coke plant, located downstream from the office, was constructed in the 1940s. The basic-oxygen-process shop contains two basic oxygen vessels and was built in the 1970s. Recent construction includes the universal rail and structural mill, erected through a grant from the Economic Redevelopment Agency in 1981, and the five-strand continuous bloom caster, built in 1983. These facilities are housed in large one-story steel frame buildings clad with corrugated metal.

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The Willard Hotel, Washington DC

Both the site and the present building have a long history of entertaining Presidents, statesmen and other important people. In 1816 John Tayloe built six three-story buildings at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street to be used as private residences. As early as 1818, however, at least one of them was leased as a hotel. For the next twenty-nine years the buildings housed a number of hotel establishments. During this time the building that became the original hotel was built. In 1847 Henry A. and Edwin D. Willard came to Washington to lease what was by then the 40 room old CITY HOTEL from the owner Benjamin 0. Tayloe. At this time the name was changed to the Willard Hotel. Two years later Edwin left and was replaced by brother Joseph C. Willard. Henry and Joseph continued to lease the property until 1853, when they purchased it from the Tayloe family and extended the building up 14th Street. In 1858, with the purchase of the property at 14th and F Streets and the further extension of the building, the Willard Hotel now had 100 rooms. Management problems arose, however, and in 1883, Joseph bought his brother Henry's interest in the business. Located only a block from the White House the Willard was host to a variety of people. When the Japanese Treaty Embassy made its first visit to the UnitedStates in 1860 it stayed at the Willard. In.1861, the last Peace Conference prior to the outbreak of the Civil War was held at the Willard. Julia Ward Howe, a guest in 1861, wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic while staying there.

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BF Keith Memorial Theater Opera House, Boston Massachusetts

Benjamin Franklin Keith (January 26, 1846 - March 26, 1914) was born at Hillsborough, New Hampshire, the youngest of eight children born to Samuel C. and Rhoda Keith. At the age of seven he began to work on a western Massachusetts farm, remaining there for 11 years and attending the district school and village academy during the winter months. When he was 17, Keith was greatly attracted by a country circus which he had visited, and shortly thereafter he left for New York, where he found employment with Bunnell's Museum. He later worked for P. T. Barrium and with Adam Forepaugh's Circus, remaining in the circus business as employer and proprietor until the early 1880s. During that time he added to his theatrical experience fy taking small shows on the road, thrice bankrupting himself in the process. Keith's career as a vaudeville entrepreneur began in Boston. In January 1883 he opened the Gaiety Museum in partnership with Colonel William Austin in a room only 15' x 35' that tapered to 6' at the rear. Those premises were immediately south of the Adams House Hotel adjoining the south side of the present B. F. Keith Memorial Theatre, now renamed the Opera House. The partnership with Austin, soon dissolved, and the enterprise became Keith and Batcheller's Mammoth Museum with George H. Batcheller as Keith's new partner. The partners soon added an upstairs lecture hall with 123 seats, and it was there, above the hall of curios, that continuous performance vaudeville first began. In 1884 Batcheller left, and Edwin F. Albee, an old friend of Keith, joined to form a partnership in 1885 that lasted until the latter's death in 1914.

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Ruins of the Edward House Plantation, Spring Island South Carolina

George Edwards is credited with developing Spring Island into a flourishing plantation which by 1850 was producing more bales of cotton than any other holding in St. Luke's Parish. Earlier, the island's husbandry had been dominated by cattle ranching and indigo production, both activities being mentioned in late eighteenth-century sources. When exactly the transition to cultivation of cotton as the major cash crop occurred is difficult to say. However, the U.S. Census of 1800 for St. Luke's Parish does attest that a substantial work force was then available to George Edwards, listing forty slaves under his name and an additional sixty slaves belonging to the estate of George Barksdale which he (Edwards) apparently controlled. Aside f:r;om slaves, the household was small. George Edwards was then living on Spring Island with a single male companion. This situation no doubt changed after 1801 when Edwards married his cousin, Elizabeth Barksdale, who brought valuable real property as her marriage portion including Ferry Plantation on the North Santee, a house on Tradd Street in Charleston, and twenty more s]aves. According to the U.S. Census of 1810, the couple had taken up residence at least temporarily in St. Luke's Parish, the Spring Island household then comprising two adults (presumably George and Elizabeth Edwards) and what were probably their two children, one male, the other female. Since 1800, the island's. slave population had seen significant growth, reaching 170 individuals In 1810. Slave numbers continued increasing for the next two decades, reaching a total of 336 persons by 1830, a figure which made Edwards one of the Beaufort district's largest slave owners. In 1816, Edwards bought himself a handsome brick house at what is now 14 Legare Street in Charleston and residcd principally there until his death on 11 April 1859. How much time the family spent on Spring Island cannot be said although it does seem that the main residence was kept in good order and remained furnished. The plantation itself apparently witnessed a decline after 1830, its slave population dropping to 250 individuals by 1840. Even so, the work force remained exceptionally large for the Beaufort District and was well- managed, producing 150 bales of cotton in 1850 along with large quantities of foodstuffs including 2,400 bushels of corn, 2,800 pounds of rice, 1000 bushels of peas and beans, 100 bushels of sweet potatoes, and 200 pounds of butter. Surprisingly, two hundred cattle were still ranging the island, other domesticated animals listed by the agricultural schedule of 1850 included twelve horses, sixteen assess and mules, seventy-three milch cows, forty working oxen, seventy sheep, and one hundred swine.

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Willimantic Linen Company Mill Number 2, Windham Connecticut

willimantic Linen Company began operations in 1854 using cotton mills built in 1825, and soon shifted from linen to thread production when the Crimean War interrupted European flax supplies. By 1895, the firm built three new mills, a bleachery and dye house, a storehouse, an office, and other auxiliary structures. American Thread Company purchased Willimantic Linen in 1898 and continued to expand the Willimantic complex until c1915, adding or completing two mill buildings, a second dye house, and a warehouse. Thread manufacture persisted here until 1984. Information on 19th-century Willimantic Linen hydropcwer facilities is limited, but the overall sequence of development can be inferred from several sources. Between 1854 and 1864, the company purchased or developed four consecutive water privileges on the Willimantic River, which falls about ninety feet through the Borough of Willimantic over a ledge-dominated two-mile distance. Of the four privileges, totalling some 63 feet of fall, the lowermost had 16.5 feet of fall at a framed timber dam built c1825 in conjunction with a frame cotton mill on the north side of the river. Willimantic Linen bought this site in 1854, along with an 1825 stone cotton mill on the north bank between the two uppermost privileges (the Spool Shop, at or just above the site of the cl915 warehouse). The firm began operations in the older mills, and immediately began construction of Mill No. 1 and related hydropcwer facilities. Willimantic Linen built two dams cl854, above and below the Spool Shop, perhaps replacing or improving an earlier dam in the process. The uppermost dam (the Spool Dam) was a mortared granite block structure about 500 feet upriver from Mill No. 1, and developed a water privilege with 13.6 feet of fall. The second 1854 dam, a framed timber structure (later encased in granite block) built at the downstream end of Mill No- l, provided 11 feet of head. Willimantic Linen developed its last water privilege C1862-64, building a mortared granite-block dam with 22 feet of fall for Mill No. 2.

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