The Niels and Mellie Esperson Buildings
Houston's "His & Her" Skyscrapers
Letters from the family of Hugh White Johnston
Niels and Mellie Esperson Buildings, page 1
Friday, April 06, 2001 11:49 PM
Mr. Troesser, Our Johnston family really enjoyed the article on
the Neils Esperson Bldg. The decorative masonry is also a tribute
to the work of my husbands grandfather Hugh White Johnston.
We are not quite sure how the Johnston family knew Mr. Eberson,
maybe through the connection of the Johnston/Davis family owning
a brick factory and pottery plant in Ohio. Hugh and family moved
to Houston due to the contracting by Mr. Eberson to build a home
in River Oaks that was a replica of Monticello. He after
finishing that job remained here and did design work for some
of the homes in the MacGregor area. The Neils Esperson
Building was his last masonry job before the Depression
hit. He was the crew foreman for the building of the design
frames for the beautiful art work on the building. So we have
many times viewed the beautiful building. Ironically, Hugh White
Johnston is also buried in Forest
died a "broke" man, the depression ended the Johnston's grand
days of living on Heights Blvd. A sad testament to a man
whom had such creative talents. Sincerely, The Johnston Family
card photo c.1911.
to Russell Davis Johnston, youngest son of Hugh White, the school
to as Central School and was located in the Montrose area near
the University of St. Thomas. In this class photo are the Herman
children and Brown children.
on the front row far right with X on shirt. Howard Hughes stands
behind him in black suit and white tie.The Kirby brothers are
in the front row (left to right) first and third child. Teacher
is Miss Davis.
Photo courtesy Johnston Family
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Saturday, April 07, 2001 9:00 AM
Not meaning to be rude, but the last name is Johnston, Scot not
Swede, I can still hear my husband say. There is one cousin whom
is still living that I will contact and see if there are any additional
information. I thank you for your thoughtfulness, I know my children
have always marveled to know that their great grandfather had a
part in the Esperson Building. Hugh died in the latter part of the
30's on that I will have to check also. Before my father-in-law
Russell Davis Johnston died, he reminisced many hours regarding
his youth. They moved from East Liverpool/Wellsville, Ohio area
when Russell was 5 years old, 1910. So his memories of Houston
in the oil boom days were vivid. The beautiful mansions that
dotted the different streets. Many were on 5 acre estates, one such
is the Kirby Mansion that is located between Pierce and W.
Gray . He "schooled" as he phrased it, with the Kirby Boys,
Howard Hughes, Herman Children and the Brown
Children. I have a photo of the class about 1911 that I can send
to you if you wish. I must admit at the time he was relating all
this to me -- 1970 to his death in 1978 -- some of the stories
I just kind of put on the back shelf, you know the "Yes, Papa
that sounded nice" or "Yes, that was funny." As time
has moved on some of the discoveries that have been made in regards
to the mention of the "covered over grave yards" along the bayou
have come to be factual and other highlights of the Boom days, I
have gone humm -- he was actually giving me a verbal history
lesson -- not just the ramblings of an old one remembering happenings
the way they would of liked to have been. I will get back in touch
with you. Thanks, Ginger Johnston
of Hugh White Johnston, c. 1915
Oldest Mary Robert on the left. Russell on the bottom left,
sister Ailene on the right, and dog "Bob"
courtesy Johnston Family
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Saturday, April 07, 2001 4:59 PM
Here you go on the pictures, have noted on the scan what was explained
and written on the back of them. I did speak to my husband's cousin.
He said, " as far as any other buildings downtown he did not know.
When he was a young boy his Mother, Ailene drove him by the Neils
building many times as his Dad's dentist office was not far from.
His Dad was Dr. Thomas A. Blackstock, DDS, his office was
in the old Medical Arts Bldg. On several occasions when
out near the MacGregor Way area she would drive down the
Blvd and point out the different homes his Grandpa Hugh had built.
These homes were located facing Sims Bayou. Ailene Johnston
Blackstock is still living. She is 96 years old. She is in
a nursing home now as she is very senile." (Me, I think she is
just being very quite, as you would have to know Aunt Ailene --
woman of many words when necessary)
I do remember the area he is speaking of very well. As my Aunt
and her husband, Theo J. Krieger lived on So. MacGregor
Way. His family owed the Krieger Motor Car Company. Where
the dealership was located is now where the Humble Bldg.
sits. His property backed Sims Bayou. They were beautiful elegant
homes and most were on acre plots. It is my understanding after
years of neglect of the area, that some are buying the old mansions
did get a laugh on the statement from the people in England. I
have heard persons call them the Meils and Nellie Buildings. It
is nice to know that they at least knew it was husband and wife.
But on you hearing all the way from England, that is a wow.
again for your interest in our family and best of luck on the
continuing issues of Texas Escapes. It is a wonderful informative
site. Traveling Texas on the web.
Sincerely, Ginger Johnston