The Post Rice Lofts, formerly the Rice Hotel, is a historic building at 909 Texas Avenue in Downtown Houston, Texas, United States. It was constructed in 1912 on the site of the former Capitol building of the Republic of Texas, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel was renovated and turned into apartments in 1998 after years of standing unused.History
John and Augustus Chapman Allen retained ownership of the building after the Congress of the Republic of Texas moved from Houston to Austin, and they sold it to R.S. Blount for $12,000, in 1857, who opened the Capitol Hotel.Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas, committed suicide at the Hotel in 1858.
The old Capitol building was razed in 1881 by Colonel A. Groesbeck, who subsequently erected a five-story hotel, which he also named the Capitol Hotel. William Marsh Rice, the founder of Rice University, purchased the building in 1883, added a five-story annex, and renamed it the Rice Hotel. Rice University then sold the building in 1911 to Jesse Jones, who demolished it and built the present 17-story structure on the site. The new Rice Hotel building opened on May 17, 1913. The first air-conditioned public room in Houston, the Rice Hotel Cafeteria, opened in 1922.
For many years, the Rice Hotel was one of Houston's grand hotels, and a downtown landmark.
The hotel featured fine dining in the Flag Room, a casual first-floor coffee shop, and the underground Rice Hotel Cafeteria, known for its signature dish, Rice Pudding. It had a variety of retail shops, including a lobby news stand, a hat store, and Bilton's Fine Jewelry.
Power brokers from Houston and all over Texas met in the private Old Capital Club, across the corridor from the Flag Room. Here, on the burgundy leather banquettes and chairs, many deals were made and companies were born. The member list was a veritable who's who of Houston, including judges, lawyers, businessmen and other power brokers.
The Rice Hotel has had numerous famous guests including past U.S. Presidents. John F. Kennedy spent the night at the Rice Hotel before traveling to Fort Worth, and then Dallas, where he was assassinated.
In 1962 the Rice Hotel was used for a meeting of NASA Astronaut Group 2 - The New Nine - all of whom booked in with the code name "Max Peck" as portrayed on the 1998 HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.
The hotel was shuttered in the mid 1970s, and briefly reopened under the Rice Rittenhouse name. It saw its last hotel guests in 1977.
The historic Rice hotel now serves as an apartment building and is known as The Rice Lofts.
In 1996 Houston Housing Finance Corp. financed the purchase and redevelopment of the hotel. Peter S. Carlsen and Dale E. Smith of the Houston Business Journal referred to the purchasing as "creative."
A Houston Chronicle article stated that the Rice Lofts are believed to be haunted by spirits dancing on the roof.Restoration
After being vacant for years, the lobby and "Crystal Ballroom" in the historic Rice Hotel have been restored to their original 1913 design by Houston real estate developer Randall Davis. The ballroom, with its 30-foot ceiling, restored mural, crystal chandeliers and outdoor terrace with views of downtown, has a colorful history of wedding parties, society balls and grand receptions.
The original "Rice Roof" dance pavilion, where the likes of Tommy Dorsey once swung, has been transformed into a resident social area. And, the indoor pool, hidden under concrete in recent years, has been completely restored. The Old Capital Club, once a favorite watering hole for Houston power brokers, is now a richly paneled lounge with an adjacent terrace overlooking the city.Zoned schools
Post Rice Lofts is zoned to the Houston Independent School District.
Residents are zoned to Crockett Elementary School,Gregory Lincoln Education Center (for middle school), and Davis High School.
By Spring 2011 Atherton Elementary School and E.O. Smith Education Center were be consolidated with a new K-5 campus in the Atherton site. As a result the building was rezoned from Smith to Gregory Lincoln.