May 17, 2012

Still Standing

Rice Hotel, Houston, Texas

Today marks the anniversary for a Texas landmark and historical building, the Rice Hotel. Opening May 17, 1913, the building was one of Houston's most grandiose buildings of the 20th century. The 17 story building screamed of luxury and fine dining featuring a coffee shop, cafeteria, retail shops, and a Bilton's Fine Jewelery store. The most powerful and elite could be seen inside the building making deals and enjoying its infamous rice pudding.

Capitol Hotel

With its grandeur also comes much Texas history and significance. The building, located at 909 Texas Avenue in Downtown Houston, was originally the Capitol building of the Congress of the Republic of Texas before moving to Austin. It was sold to R.S. Blount for $12,000 in 1857 who then opened it as the Capitol Hotel. Additionally, the last president of the Republic of Texas, Anson Jones, fatally shot himself in his room after dinner on January 9, 1858 at the age of 59 years old.

Rice Hotel, pre-1913 building

The Capitol Hotel building was then destroyed by Colonel A. Groesbeck who then built a five story hotel in its location which he also named the Capitol Hotel. The founder of Rice University, William Marsh Rice, bought the building in 1883, added a five story annex and renamed it to its most familiar name, the Rice Hotel. The building was sold again in 1911 to Jesse Jones who demolished it and built the 17 story luxury hotel that became a prominent structure in Downtown Houston. This building housed the first air-conditioned public room in Houston, the Rice Hotel Cafeteria, in 1922. It's also the first hotel to contain and escalator.

Rice Hotel lobby

Over the years, six presidents visited the Rice hotel. The building is the site where John F. Kennedy spent the night in Houston before his travel to Fort Worth and Dallas, where he was ultimately assassinated. In the surrounding pictures, we can see photos of the Rice Hotel lobby and dining area.

Rice Hotel dining room

After closing in the mid 1970's, the Rice Hotel was renovated into apartments in 1998 with the lobby and ballroom restored to their original 1913 design. The University of Houston Digital Library contains many historical photos of famous Houston landmarks such as the Rice Hotel. To view the full contents of this collection, click here.


  1. Very nice information. Rich hotel was very beautiful. rooms are clean.

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