Guide to the Rice University Treasurer's Office records regarding Town Lot Sales Records and Rice Hotel and Houston Endowment, 1868-1986 UA 002
Some of the town lots referred to in this collection were acquired by William Marsh Rice and were turned over to Rice Institute in 1906 by the executors of his estate. Others were apparently bought by the Institute. It was noted in 1946 that most of the desirable lots had been disposed of through the years. The remaining lots were for the most part undesirable because of poor location, lack of utilities in the vicinity, or surface conditions. It was noted that in a few instances lots would be more salable if and when utilities were extended and drainage provided. It appeared in 1946 that this would be done fairly soon in certain sections of Bremond and Calvert, but it seemed doubtful that properties in the other towns would be benefited by these types of improvement for a number of years to come. Thus, as documents in this collection show, some lots continued to be held by Rice through the fifties, sixties, seventies, and as late as 1985.
The records pertaining to the Rice Hotel also begin with a purchase by William Marsh Rice. In 1886 he bought the hotel at the corner of Texas Ave. and Main St. in downtown Houston, then known as the Capitol Hotel, for back taxes. When he was murdered in 1900, the hotel was left to the newly chartered Rice Institute and was renamed the Rice Hotel. Under the terms of Rice’s will, the land could not be sold; thus when in 1910 Jesse Jones made a proposal to the Institute trustees to lease the land and build a new hotel, the resulting deal was to lease Jones the site for ninety-nine years with an additional ninety-nine-year option. In addition to receiving revenue from this and other leases, the Institute also earned money on its endowment funds by making loans for construction. On June 1, 1910, an agreement was made between the Institute trustees and Jones to loan him a sum not exceeding $500,000, half the estimated cost at the time to build the hotel. A year later the loan of an additional $250,000 was agreed to, and it was agreed that one of the Institute trustees would be on the board of Jesse Jones’s company, the Houston Hotel Association. When Jesse Jones died in 1956, his charitable foundation, Houston Endowment, became owner and operator of the hotel.
In 1971, Houston Endowment gave the hotel to Rice—now University, which still owned the land occupied by the building. At that time it was valued at $7.5 million. The University decided not to spend the $1.2 million necessary to bring the building up to current codes, it was bought by a New York corporation, refurbished and re-opened, but in 1977 it was sold at a foreclosure auction to the Rice Preservation Corporation. In 1978 Community Investors IX Ltd. purchased the building and bought the land from Rice University. Thus the value of the entire Rice Hotel property became part of the University endowment.
This collection consists of sales/payment records, tax records, maps, deeds, and correspondence concerning the town lots received by the Rice Institute from the Rice Estate—mostly relative to the towns of Paige, Mexia, Hempstead, Kasse, Richland, Bremond, and Calvert, and dating from 1868 to 1978. The collection also includes deeds, construction contracts, inventories, tax records, and correspondence concerning the Rice Hotel and the 99-year lease with the Houston Endowment.
Conditions Governing Access note
This material is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use note
Permission to publish material from the Treasurer’s Office: Town Lot Sales Records and Rice Hotel/ Houston Endowment collection must be facilitated through the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.
Rice University Treasurer's Office records regarding Town Lot Sales Records and Rice Hotel and Houston Endowment, UA 002, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University
This collection was transfered to the archives in Spring 1990.
Detailed Description of the Collection