If you walk down Texas Avenue on the north side of downtown Houston, you’ll see dozens of historic markers on light poles, 57 in all, starting at Bagby and going all the way to Hamilton near the ballpark. As Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams reports, the markers make-up a historic walking tour that’s just been completed.
At one point in Houston’s history, in the mid-1800’s, Texas Avenue was the heart of the city, home to many of the places that Houston was built on. Deborah January-Beavers is the executive director of Scenic Houston, the non-profit organization that put the walking tour together.
“Back when Houston was being founded in the very early 1800’s, this was the original dirt road that began Houston. This is where the leaders of the community, the first businesses, the first churches, the first residences, in fact are very close to Hamilton and the areas that now hold the ballpark and other businesses, all started on Texas Avenue.”
Now, dozens of those historic sites are commemorated with markers that describe what once stood there, with some of the places, like Incarnate Word Academy near the ballpark, still there.
“Incarnate Word Academy has been on Texas Avenue since the mid to late 1800’s and the historical marker discusses aspects of how Incarnate Word has changed since its beginnings.”
The first phase of the walking tour, from Bagby to Main, was completed a few years ago. The newest leg, from Main to Hamilton, includes Christ Church Cathedral, the Federal Reserve Bank, William Penn Hotel and Annunciation Church.
“When you walk Texas Avenue, you can find out a whole lot about Houston’s history. In fact we’re working with local elementary schools and junior highs when they go to teach Texas history and Houston’s history specifically we are in discussions with them about field trips down here to read those markers because that it their curriculum.”
Longtime Houston historian Betsy Chapman did most of the research for the markers and says it’s important that residents know about the history of their city.
“We don’t know much about our history. We have not been history-minded at all and I think this will be a wonderful way to educate people. You can walk-up to the marker. It doesn’t tell you a lot but it gives you a real feel for what Houston was like.”
The historic walk along Texas Avenue includes markers on light poles on both sides of the street.