Thursday, September 26, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Sam Houston Coliseum

Charles Peter Guokas Jr. in front of the Sam Houston Coliseum, 1940s
My maternal grandfather, Charles Guokas Jr. (1903-1967, pictured at left in front of the Coliseum), operated parking lots for the City of Houston around the Coliseum and Music Hall, as well as nearby City Hall, and at Hobby Airport, from at least the 1940s until his death in 1967.  In the 1960s, he also operated a parking lot at Main and Clay in downtown Houston on property owned by the University of Texas system.

He originally got the concessions because of his political connections, but eventually, he had to bid for the rights to operate the parking lots.

I can remember when he came to visit, he would take all the change out of his pockets and give it to me and my four siblings, his only grandchildren, to divvy up.  He and my grandmother (they were divorced in 1944) also set aside money for our college educations.  My mother says he used to pay her to write letters to find the owners of cars left on the lots that did not pay the parking fees, a small amount of money, yet it helped with family expenses.

The Sam Houston Coliseum and Music Hall was originally built in 1937.  They replaced the Sam Houston Hall,  a wooden building erected on the site for the 1928 Democratic National Convention (which my grandfather attended) and torn down in 1936.

Until Jones Hall and the Albert Thomas Convention Center were built in the late 1960s, and the Houston Summit in the mid 1970s, the Coliseum and Music Hall were the venues for many concerts and sports events. The building was demolished in 1999, and is now the site of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

My mother is pictured in front of the Coliseum below.  She looks to be in high school (which was nearby) or perhaps college, which would date the picture to the 1940s.  I believe the photo of my grandfather above was taken at the same time.

Geraldine Margaret Guokas in front of the Sam Houston Coliseum and Music Hall, 1940s

Sam Houston Coliseum and Music Hall, located in Houston's Civic Center / Boston Public Library / CC BY 2.0

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

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