Heritage, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1987 Page: 43
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Victoria: A Pictorial History
Victoria: A Pictorial History. By
Robert W. Shook and Charles D. Spurlin
(Norfolk: The Donning Company, 1985.)
208 pages, illustrated
Victoria, Texas, often identified as
"that small town between Houston and
Corpus Christi," is attracting new attention
with a resurgence of interest in its
past. Both the local preservation organization,
Victoria Preservation, Inc., and
Victoria Regional Museum Association
are taking active roles to restore Victoria's
historic and architectural heritage.
Concurrent with the work of these associations,
Victoria: A Pictorial History
has been published to further public interest
in Victoria's past. Sponsored by
First Victoria National Bank, this handsomely
bound pictorial history is a Sesquicentennial
gift to the city of Victoria.
Generously, the bank is donating net proceeds
from book sales to the programs
of Victoria Presevation, Inc. Coauthored
by two respected Victoria historians,
Robert W. Shook and Charles D. Spurlin,
the book's purpose is to "preserve memories
of the old town and contribute to the
perspective of those too young or recently
arrived to call on recollections of the
'City of Roses.'"
Victoria has a colorful past, which the
book chronicles to present day. First with
drawings and then with historic photographs,
the book tells the story of Victoria's
development. The early chapters
detail Victoria's exploration and settlement,
involvement in the Texas Revolution,
and growth with the immigration of
Germans and other Europeans by 1850.
Later chapters reveal a history of steamboats
plying the muddy Guadalupe River,
a famous railway named for the Italian
immigrants who built it, long cattle
drives originating from Victoria, and
great wealth created by the discovery of
oil and gas in the 1930s. Readers discover
Victoria to be a town solidly constructed
as a crossroads of banking and commerce,
farming, and ranching.
Architecturally, the built environment
of Victoria developed along with the
town. Between 1880 and 1910 many new
homes and commercial structures were
built in the central downtown area. With
emphasis on this prosperous period of
"Victorian Victoria," Shook and Spurlin
document the architectural growth of the
town with photographs of major landmarks,
including the 1900 City Hall,
the 1880 Abraham Levi Bank designed
by Nicholas Clayton, the 1904 Catholic
Nazareth Academy, and commercial
buildings such as the 1898 three-story
T. M. O'Connor Building and the 1910
Iroquois Building. There are interior
shots of Leibold's pharmacy and August
Miller's grocery store, photos of saloons
such as the Lone Star and the Last
Chance, and photographs of hotels such
as the Delaware and the Denver. Aerial
and Street scenes of downtown Victoria
in various stages of development are also
Photographs of homes include the
1895 William Wheeler home, the 1897
Visit the State Capitol in Austin, March 1-8, to see a special
exhibit on ranching women in Texas and to pick up information
on Women's History Month.
Women pictured to the left (clockwise) are:
Oveta Culp Hobby (1905- ), first director, Women's Army Corps
Jovita Idar (1885-1946), founder, League of Mexican Women
Mary Ann Goodnight (1839-1926), ranch founder, Texas Panhandle
Dr. Annie Webb Blanton (1870-1945), State Superintendent of Public
Jeffie O.A. Conner (1895-1972), president, Texas Association of
Sponsored by the Texas Historical CommissionsCosponsored by the Austin
Women's CentereDaughters of the Republic of TexasoPeople's History in
Texas-Texas Association of MuseumseTexas Foundation for Women's
Resources-Texas Historical FoundationoTexas State Agency Liaison Group
For more information, contact the THC, P.O. Box 12276, Austin, TX 78711,
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1987, periodical, Spring 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45438/m1/43/: accessed September 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.