Life-sized Sculptures Of Houston’s Founding Brothers To Be Installed At City Hall

After 75 years, two statues envisioned by the building’s architect will finally stand on its eastern terrace.

Picture of Augustus Chapman Allen statue
Statue of Augustus Chapman Allen, made of clay and wax, prior to applying bronze exterior.

About 18 months ago, Lynna Shuffield came across a newspaper article from the late 1930s while doing some family research. It reported that construction of Houston's City Hall building had just been completed, but two things were left out – two bronze, life-sized statues of the Allen Brothers.

The architect had intended for them to stand on the building's eastern terrace.

"And in 1939 — November 1939 — Mayor Holcombe announced that, regretfully, money had run out for the funding of the project," Shuffield says. "And the statues of the Allen Brothers would not be placed on the pedestal."

So, they were never sculpted.

Seventy-five years later, Shuffield approached her fellow members of theUnited Daughters of the Confederacyand suggested they raise $100,000 to finishthe project.

But how does an artist create a life-sized sculpture of someone who lived 170 years ago?

Picture of John Kirby Allen statue
Statue of John Kirby Allen, made of clay and wax, prior to applying bronze exterior.

"There's a physical description of the men from family records," Shuffield says. "Then we had engraving images that were of the men taken at the time period of their life."

Houston artistLori Betzwas commissioned for the project. The Allen Brothers statues are on display at theClayton Library for Genealogical Researchin the Museum District until October 31st, before moving to their permanent home at City Hall. A public event celebrating the installation is set for the end of October.