Robinson Public Warehouse (1929-2006)
The 1929 Robinson Public Warehouse (Nimmons, Carr, and Wright, architects), at the corner of Allen Parkway and Montrose Blvd, is on its way to the building afterlife. It was originally a Sears, Roebuck, and Co. store, and was also the first (and temporary) home of Baylor College of Medicine in the mid to late forties. Demolition is about to begin, and we’ve been watching for the wrecking ball which is due to make an appearance any time now.
This building has been vacant for years, and is one of the last of the historic buildings along Allen Parkway (or Buffalo Drive, as it was previously known), as well as one of a dwindling number of art deco buildings in Houston. The 1937 Jefferson Davis Hospital was demolished in 1999 to make way for the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, and the Gulf Publishing Building was replaced by the now Royalton at River Oaks (though according to the developer, “Much care was taken to preseve [sic] the historical significance of the original Gulf Publishing Building, built in 1929, that once stood on the site. The frieze that now welcomes residents once graced the front of the Gulf Publishing building”).
The land, as well as an adjoining 11.3 acres, is set to be the new home of a Ismaili Center from the Aga Khan Foundation. The building will be similar to other centers built by the foundation, according to Zahir Janmohamed, who is the CEO of the United States Aga Khan Council.
There was some short-lived hope for the survival of the warehouse back in 2004, when Ameriton, Inc. was considering implementing the building in its apartment plans. Unfortunately, that fell through, like many of the hopeful restoration projects in Houston.