The Hogg Family and Houston: Philanthropy and the Civic Ideal

The Hogg Family and Houston: Philanthropy and the Civic Ideal

The Hogg Family and Houston: Philanthropy and the Civic Ideal

The Hogg Family and Houston: Philanthropy and the Civic Ideal

Synopsis

Progressive former governor James Stephen Hogg moved his business headquarters to Houston in 1905. For seven decades, his children Will, Ima, and Mike Hogg used their political ties, social position, and family fortune to improve the lives of fellow Houstonians.As civic activists, they espoused contested causes like city planning and mental health care. As volunteers, they inspired others to support social service, educational, and cultural programs. As philanthropic entrepreneurs, they built institutions that have long outlived them: the Houston Symphony, the Museum of Fine Arts, Memorial Park, and the Hogg Foundation. The Hoggs had a vision of Houston as a great city-a place that supports access to parklands, music, and art; nurtures knowledge of the "American heritage which unites us"; and provides social service and mental health care assistance. This vision links them to generations of American idealists who advanced a moral response to change.Based on extensive archival sources, The Hogg Family and Houston explains the impact of Hogg family philanthropy for the first time. This study explores how individual ideals and actions influence community development and nurture humanitarian values. It examines how philanthropists and volunteers mold Houston's traditions and mobilize allies to meet civic goals. It argues that Houston's generous citizens have long believed that innovative cultural achievement must balance aggressive economic expansion.

Excerpt

Ten years after leaving public service, James Stephen (Jim) Hogg, the first native-born governor of Texas (1891–1895), moved his law practice and business headquarters from the state’s capital in Austin to Houston, the state’s fastest-growing commercial center. Fueled by oil discoveries in surrounding counties and famous for a leadership ethos that welcomed newcomers and their aspirations, Houston had developed a business infrastructure of banks, railroads, and port facilities that encouraged economic expansion. Investors in the infant oil industry like partners Jim Hogg and Joseph Cullinan, whose Texas Company became Texaco after the governor’s death, saw Houston as a good location for corporate headquarters because the city also was noted for its attractive residential neighborhoods and stimulating civic life.

The governor did not live long enough to influence Houston’s development, but he left a legacy that shaped the emerging metropolis in fundamental ways when three of his four children, Will, Ima, and Mike, made Houston their permanent home after their father’s death in 1906. For seventy years the fortunes of the siblings and their adoptive city were entwined. Taking seriously the lessons of their parents, Will, Ima, and Mike joined other far-sighted Houston families to develop a vision of the ideal city, and they invested in institutions that would fulfill their dreams. Until Ima Hogg’s death in 1975, their imaginative approaches to commerce, government, and philanthropy allowed them to confront urban challenges and demonstrate the diverse ways in which private resources can be used to promote the public good and sustain a community’s quality of life.

When Will, Ima, and Mike settled in Houston, they brought with them strong family values and a heritage of commitment to community service. Jim and Sallie Stinson Hogg taught their children that public service was every citizen’s duty, that strong families made stable communities, and that public education at public expense was essential to democracy. They introduced their children to music, art, and history . . .

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