In 1836, the new town of Houston was only a drawing on paper. The Allen brothers, land speculators from New York, bought the land that is now Houston and decided to write newspaper ads to make the empty banks of the bayou sound like a busy, growing town. They paid Gail and Thomas Borden to draw the first map of the city. Gail Borden divided the land into blocks and named them. Most streets were eight feet wide while. Texas Avenue spanned 100 feet. At the time, Texas was not part of the United States but an independent country, The Republic of Texas.
Before it was even built, Augustus and John decided that their town deserved status as the capital of the new Republic of Texas. John Allen went to the Congress of the Republic and told them he would build buildings for the government if they would move the capital to Houston. He must have said the right things because Congress made Houston the capital of Texas in 1837. Construction of the new government buildings began right away, but when Congress met for the first time its new building had no roof. The top of the building had branches to cover it!
Houston was the capital of Texas from 1937-1839. Some people said that there were too many "rough" people who lived in Houston. Others said it was too muddy and the mosquitoes were troublesome. Still others complained tha the government buildings were not being completed quickly enough. The capital moved to Waterloo, a little town that soon changed its name to Austin.
History buffs can visit the spot where the capital once stood. The property eventually became the famous Rice Hotel but actually had three different hotels built on the land throughout the years. An interesting tidbit is that the hotel was the first air-conditioned building in Houston and the first hotel to have an escalator. The building hosted six US presidents. The Democratic Party held a national convention there. The day before his assassination in Dallas, President John F. Kennedy took a nap at the hotel on a stopover in Houston before continuing on to Dallas. The property fell into disrepair and closed in 1977, remaining shuttered for twenty years. As with many properties inside Loop 610 in Houston, investors transformed the structure into luxury apartments in 1998. The property thrives at 909 Texas Street at Main Street.