Post Rice Lofts
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The Rice Lofts
The top of the The Rice Lofts, indicating its former name
|Location||909 Texas Avenue
@ Main Street
|Architect||Alfred C. Finn|
|NRHP Reference #||78002947|
|Added to NRHP||June 23, 1978|
The Rice Lofts, formerly the Rice Hotel, is a historic building at 909 Texas Avenue in Downtown Houston, Texas, United States. It was constructed in 1912 on the site of the former Capitol building of the Republic of Texas, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel was renovated and turned into apartments in 1998 after years of standing unused.
John and Augustus Chapman Allen retained ownership of the building after the Congress of the Republic of Texas moved from Houston to Austin, and they sold it to R.S. Blount for $12,000, in 1857, who opened the Capitol Hotel. Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas, committed suicide at the hotel in 1858.
The old Capitol building was razed in 1881 by Colonel A. Groesbeck, who subsequently erected a five-story hotel, which he also named the Capitol Hotel. William Marsh Rice, the founder of Rice University, purchased the building in 1883, added a five-story annex, and renamed it the Rice Hotel. Rice University then sold the building in 1911 to Jesse Jones, who demolished it and built the present 17-story structure on the site. The new Rice Hotel building opened on May 17, 1913. The first air-conditioned public room in Houston, the Rice Hotel Cafeteria, opened in 1922.
For many years, the Rice Hotel was one of Houston's grand hotels, and a downtown landmark.
The hotel featured fine dining in the Flag Room, a casual first-floor coffee shop, and the underground Rice Hotel Cafeteria, known for its signature dish, rice pudding. It had a variety of retail shops, including a lobby news stand, a hat store, and Bilton's Fine Jewelry.
Power brokers from Houston and all over Texas met in the private Old Capital Club, across the corridor from the Flag Room. Here, on the burgundy leather banquettes and chairs, many deals were made and companies were born. The member list was a veritable who's who of Houston, including judges, lawyers, businessmen and other power brokers.
The Rice Hotel had numerous famous guests, including U.S. presidents. John F. Kennedy visited the Rice Hotel in 1963 before traveling to Fort Worth, and then Dallas, where he was assassinated. He also delivered his famous speech on religion in politics there to the Greater Houston Ministerial Conference on Sept. 12, 1960.
In 1962 the Rice Hotel was used for a meeting of NASA Astronaut Group 2 - The New Nine - all of whom booked in with the code name "Max Peck" as portrayed on the 1998 HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.
The hotel was shuttered in the mid-1970s, and briefly reopened under the Rice Rittenhouse name. The last hotel guests stayed in 1977.
The historic Rice Hotel now serves as an apartment building and is known as the The Rice Lofts.
In 1996 Houston Housing Finance Corp. financed the purchase and redevelopment of the hotel. Peter S. Carlsen and Dale E. Smith of the Houston Business Journal referred to the purchase as "creative."
After being vacant for years, the lobby and "Crystal Ballroom" in the historic Rice Hotel have been restored to their original 1913 design by Houston real estate developer Randall Davis. The ballroom, with its 30-foot ceiling, restored mural, crystal chandeliers and outdoor terrace with views of downtown, has a colorful history of wedding parties, society balls and grand receptions.
The original "Rice Roof" dance pavilion, where the likes of Tommy Dorsey once swung, has been transformed into a resident social area. And, the indoor pool, hidden under concrete in recent years, has been completely restored. The Old Capital Club, once a favorite watering hole for Houston power brokers, is now a richly paneled lounge with an adjacent terrace overlooking the city.
The Rice Lofts is zoned to the Houston Independent School District.
By Spring 2011 Atherton Elementary School and E.O. Smith Education Center were consolidated with a new K-5 campus in the Atherton site. As a result the building was rezoned from Smith to Gregory Lincoln.
- "The Historic Rice Hotel, Shuttered for 20 Years, Again a Houston Landmark". hotelonline.com. Retrieved 2007-05-04.
- "Old Houston". Landmarks and Monuments, 174 Years of Historic Houston. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
- http://uhdigitallibrary.blogspot.com/2012/05/still-standing.html University of Houston Digital Library
- Carlsen, Peter S. and Dale E. Smith. "Houston's CBD resurgence is theme of Legacy Awards." Houston Business Journal. Friday February 21, 1997. Retrieved on December 1, 2009.
- Sarnoff, Nancy. "Historic Rice Hotel has a new owner." Houston Chronicle. May 2, 2014. Retrieved on August 9, 2014.
- Sarnoff, Nancy. "Rice Hotel owners planning major renovations." Houston Chronicle. May 16, 2014. Retrieved on August 9, 2014.
- Berkowitz, Lana. "Downtown Houston can be a real ghost town." Houston Chronicle. October 21, 2007. Retrieved on March 7, 2010.
- John Siemssen. "Crystal Ballroom at the Rice". Editorial Review, CitySearch.com. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
- "Crockett Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on August 3, 2009.
- "Gregory Lincoln Middle Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on July 26, 2011.
- "Davis High School Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on August 3, 2009.
- "Board Approves School Closings and Consolidations." Houston Independent School District. November 14, 2008.
- "E. O. Smith Middle Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on April 7, 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Rice Lofts.|
- The Crystal Ballroom at the Rice Hotel
- a frequently updated on-line gallery of souvenirs, postcards and items from the former rice hotel
- The Rice Hotel, Houston at Agoraphoria.com
- Hotels and Social Clubs at Downtown Houston Through Postcards
- Photo of JFK & LBJ at the Rice Hotel at Houston Chronicle Collectibles