It was the year the Titanic went down, the year John Henry Kirby was elected to the Texas Legislature, the year Rice Institute opened for classes and the year the Fifth Ward burned.
Way out on Main Street (at 1706 Main to be exact), a new eight-story residential building called the Beaconsfield opened for business. It was surrounded by mansions that sat on at least a half-block each. According to Marguerite Johnston, it was a luxurious place, with only two apartments on each floor. Each unit had “two screened balconies and six large rooms with fireplaces. It had parking for carriage or car, servants’ quarters, and back stairs and elevators for deliveries. It was so substantially built that the sounds of Main Street did not intrude.”
We thought it would be interesting to see who the first residents were, hoping to find some notable citizens of pre-war Houston. We weren’t disappointed. Of the sixteen original residents, eleven were already famous or near-famous by the time they moved into the building.
Let’s start on the top floor, the eighth. Graham Bethune Grosvenor, president of the Aviation Corps, had the best view. He went on to grace the cover of Time magazine in 1929 and 1938. Sharing the top floor, across the hall, were two lawyers, Robert E. Goree and Richard G. Maury, who was Criminal District Attorney for Harris County.
Cleveland Sewell, lawyer and son of wholesale grocer E. W. Sewell, stayed for at least a decade. His new home at 3456 Inwood was built in 1926 and later became a protected historic landmark.
William A. Vinson, judge and founder of Vinson and Elkins, called The Beaconsfield home during its first year, as did cotton broker Mark E. Andrews, cotton exporter William B. Chew and John T. Flynn.
A little oil company named the Texas Company was located in downtown Houston at the time (although their magnificent 1915 building wasn’t even started yet). Their General Counsel Amos L. Beaty was a resident of the 5thfloor at the Beaconsfield. He also served as President of the company for a short while.
The only widow we found on the list was Mrs. Challie J. Brady, whose husband Sidney Sherman Brady had died at the age of 26 in 1910. Challie apparently moved to The Beaconsfield when she sold their house on Wilmer Street.
For you sports fans, we mention that Grover H. Jones, football letterman at the University of Texas in 1903, 1904 and 1905, lived on the second floor. And last but not least, Milby Porter of the Houston Light Guards lived on the third floor.