[Houston: 1912]. 149 original photographs, measuring 1.5 x 1.5 to 3.5 x 4.5 inches. Oblong octavo. Original leatherette album, photos mounted directly on thick black paper stock, most captioned in pencil on mounts. Light soiling and wear to covers. Blind embossed private library stamp at lower edge of first leaf. Several photos lightly creased at edges or trimmed to fit available space. Five loose photographs in a laid-in envelope. Very good. Item #1366
A sentimental, but extensive and well-composed photograph album containing nearly 150 original images that document the life of a newlywed couple in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston during the early 1910s. The principal subjects of the album, Jesse Lyon Myers and Elizabeth "Bessie" Hammond, were married in early 1912 and built a new home on Hyde Park Boulevard, which is still standing today. This house and another new home down the street (no longer extant) belonging Myers' uncle, Chosen Houston Myers, are prominently featured in the album. The initial images depict the home sites, foundations, construction, and several views of the completed Arts & Crafts structures. A series of photographs showing the house interiors highlights the stenciled wallpapers, quarter-sawn oak furniture, elaborate textiles, and architectural details of the two homes. The couple also maintained a cabin at Sylvan Beach, just south of La Porte on Trinity Bay, to which they travelled in their automobile, visible in one of the shots of the small house. They spent some of their leisure time boating and fishing in Galveston as well, of which there are several images.
One series of particular interest documents the historic Stowers Fire, which occurred on May 19, 1912, and destroyed four buildings on Houston's Main Street. The destroyed buildings, congregation of fire engines, the busy firemen, smoke billowing through downtown, gathered spectators, and the remnants of the Stowers building and the neighboring Bennett's Drug Store are all depicted. The Myers family owned and operated C.H. Myers Co. & Dallas Book Co., and became one of the largest distributors of school supplies, textbooks, desks and school furniture, and other school equipment in Texas, often touting in advertisements of the period that they supplied over 1000 churches and many more schools. Several images of their offices also appear in the present album.
The neighborhood of Montrose was established in 1910, only two years before the images in the present album, by real estate developer J.W. Link as one of the first residential additions to the city, and quickly became an important example of the Houston's prosperous expansion. This charming and detailed album therefore provides excellent photographic documentation of the city, its new neighborhoods, and the surrounding area during a period of rapid and substantial growth in the early-20th century, and furnishes a fascinating representation of life for one Houston's thriving families.