From the Annals of the Performing Arts – In 1964, the groundbreaking ceremony for the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts took place in Houston. The massive concert hall was underwritten by the Houston Endowment, a charitable foundation endowed by Jesse H. Jones and his wife, Mary Gibbs Jones. The venue was notable for its modernistic style and it received the American Institute of Architects’ Honor Award in 1967. Critics of the building claim that its acoustics are subpar, its access is confusing, restrooms are inadequate and that it has outlived its usefulness. Plans for renovation are underway. But the JHPA is still in use today and is the home for the Houston Symphony Orchestra and the Society for the Performing Arts.
From the Annals of the Hub – In 1969, Houston Intercontinental Airport opened. HIA replaced Hobby Airport which continued to serve general aviation until the advent of Southwest Airlines which revitalized the subsidiary airport. HIA had been envisioned since 1957, when the Civil Aeronautics Administration recommended a replacement for undersized and overcrowded Hobby Airport. The project started in 1963 with plans for a massive $125 million facility about 10 miles north of downtown Houston. The project was repeatedly delayed and its projected opening date was changed eight times. The delays did not help improve the quality of the new airport and the overall incompetence of the design was quickly revealed. Within 3 years, the it had become apparent that the terminals were inadequate for the amount of traffic, the runways were in disrepair, the terminal trams were pathetic and there was a shortage of parking space. The problems resulted in the addition of a third terminal and other improvements. The airport was later renamed for George Bush.
Red for one has always hated the place. It is relatively convenient but very confusing, always too crowded, ugly and sprawling, and just a general pain in the ass for the traveler. It is great for getting your daily 10,000 steps in. Not to mention that it’s primary tenant is the lowly rated United Airlines. If Red can fly out of Hobby that’s where he will be.
From the Annals of the Democrats – In 1928 the Democratic National Convention concluded in at Sam Houston Hall in Houston. Houston deal-maker and civic leader Jesse Jones was instrumental in bringing the convention to Houston and it was the first national convention held in a Southern state since the Civil War. The intent was to sway the Protestant and Prohibitionist southern wing of the Democratic party to the Catholic, Anti-Prohibition candidate Al Smith. The Texas delegation led by Governor “Dry” Dan Moody wasn’t buying and displayed open hostility towards Smith’s nomination. Women’s temperance groups and Baptist ministers held round-the-clock prayer meetings to invoke God’s intervention to prevent Smith’s nomination. The majority of delegates were not swayed and saw him as their only hope of victory over the Republicans in the fall. The delegates gave Smith a resounding first ballot victory with no other candidate even close behind. Smith did not back down and his strong anti-prohibition acceptance speech further alienated many Democrats. In November, Texas went for Herbert Hoover – the first time a Republican presidential candidate carried Texas. The massive defection of Texas Democrats to Hoover was attributed both to Smith’s antiprohibition views and his Catholicism.
From the Annals of Bravery in the Face of the Racists – In 1931, O. P. DeWalt, president of the Houston NAACP, was assassinated. DeWalt was a real estate and school principal who had graduated from Prairie View College. He later opened the Lincoln Theater, the first exclusively black theater in Houston. His bravery in confronting the Ku Klux Klan was noted as he fought against their growing influence. He also sought to end the Democratic Party’s “whites only” primary system and pushed for the establishment of a branch of the National Urban League in Houston.
Most believe that DeWalt was killed for his strong opposition to the Klan. According to Hazel Haynesworth Young, however, the event that spelled doom for DeWalt was when he had the nerve to bring the 1929 King Vidor epic Hallelujah to town. Vidor intended the film to portray blacks far more sympathetically and realistically than ever before. According to Young, “He brought it in defiance of the white people who were supposed to see pictures first . . . And they had somebody kill Mr. O.P. DeWalt.” Shamefully, no one was ever prosecuted for his murder.