Gone In Seconds: Foley’s Downtown History Erased

It only took a few seconds yesterday morning for nearly 70-years of downtown Houston history to crumble into a pile of bricks and a huge cloud of dust. The old Foley's building on Main Street is now a heap of rubble, but there's still hope for other old structures downtown.


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The end was quick for the 10-story, brick building that had dominated the city block between Main and Travis since it was built in 1947. The building imploded and crumbled just after sunrise. 

“It’s tough to see buildings like this just basically being shipped to the landfill.”

David Bush is with Preservation Houston, an organization that’s trying to save old buildings across the city. 

“Honestly, when you’re in preservation in Houston, you can’t take it too personally, you have to just move on to the next project.”

Bush says his heart sinks everytime he sees a building like Foley’s go down. But he says Houston overall is doing a pretty good job of preserving old structures. 

“The city is doing more than it ever has, honestly. We have a stronger preservation ordinance than we’ve ever had. There are other projects going on downtown. The Texaco Building is going to be starting soon. Hopefully with this focus on retail, maybe something now will happen with the Sakowitz building right across the street from the old Foley’s story. So there’s still possibilities.” 

He says old buildings on the north side of downtown are in pretty good shape because they’re protected. It’s harder to save old structures in the central part of downtown that’s dominated by newer buildings. 

“Where we have the historic districts in place, you’re not going to lose those buildings. I think people sort of forget that we do have protected historic districts, so there are areas of the city that are not going to change.”

Steve Curry is with Houston MOD, another group that highlights both modern architecture and older buildings as well. He says Houston is getting better about saving its past. 

“There seems to be a new focus on Houston. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has opened a field office here. They’ve noted the Astrodome, for instance, as a national treasure and there’s more interest in buildings like this of this time than ever before in Houston and really across the country.”

Back at the Foley’s downtown, Brenda stood with others who got up early to watch the building come down. She spent many a day at the old store as a girl with her mother and sister.

“We’d buy the popcorn and we’d go to the Foley’s sales and in the basement there would be lots of tugging the clothes and things. It’s just so memorable for me. My mother passed away five years ago and I think this is going with it too.”

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