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 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.