Once hailed as Houston’s most magnificent structure, “The Carter Building” was constructed in 1910 by Samuel Fain Carter, a 16-story building crowned with an elaborate roof garden and fortressed with a basement bank vault, noted by all to be a great architectural achievement. The city’s first official skyscraper housed many influential tenants, and its address “The 806 Main Building,” became one of prestige. A penthouse and six floors were added in 1919 and 1925, and the premier skyscraper was the first to introduce Houstonians to the wonders of “modern day” conveniences like the installation of air units throughout the building, men’s and ladies’ wash basins on every floor, and drinking fountains throughout the building that supplied each floor with circulating iced water.
Fortunately, most of these original fountains have been preserved and are still a part of the hotel’s current architecture. Although the lobby has been remodeled along with interior spaces, the building’s original exterior façade lies hidden beneath Georgian marble panels added in 1967 to complement the city’s downtown modernization program. Bronze paneled interior stairwells adorned with Italian marble flooring are still intact, as well as remnants of the 1910 Otis elevator cabs. An original Heine steam boiler sits undisturbed in the basement adjacent to the once used Lumberman’s Bank vault. Sharing past culture and charm and preserving areas of the building designed in 1910, the “806 Main Building” is included among Houston’s historical sites.
- Danny Kaye