HOUSTON – Before the Rice became a luxury high rise apartment complex in Downtown Houston, the iconic E-shaped building was once a hotel built on the same site as the Texas capitol.
Located on 909 Texas Ave., this 17-story structure was the third hotel built on the same land as where the Republic of Texas capitol was located from 1837 to 1839.
When the capital moved to Austin in 1842, the original building was leased as a hotel, named the Capitol Hotel. It was demolished in 1881.
However, that same year the Capitol Hotel built a new five-story Victorian hotel. Approximately two decades later, it would be signed over to Rice Institute, which is known as Rice University today.
In 1913, Houston banker, developer, publisher and philanthropist Jesse H. Jones, built a 17-story building, naming it the Rice Hotel after the university’s founder, William Marsh Rice.
However, the hotel didn’t always have its E-shape. That didn’t happen until 1925 when a new wing was added and increased the number of rooms to over 1,000. At the time, it was considered the largest building in Houston and was the first air-conditioned public space in the city, according to the Heritage Society.
In the 1970′s, the Rice Hotel closed its doors. After being vacant for nearly 20 years, the Rice Hotel was converted into an apartment complex and reopened its doors as Post Rice Lofts.
According to the Rice, the hotel has hosted six presidents throughout its time including Benjamin Harrison, William Howard Taft, Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt, Dwight D. and Mamie Eisenhower and John and Jacqueline Kennedy.
Of course, presidents weren’t the only guests. The hotel hosted a few celebrities including Mick Jagger, Shirley Temple and Laurence Welk.
Today, the Rice serves as residential apartment lofts in the heart of Downtown.