SLHF                                                September 2015

Trivia is here again.  Test your knowledge.                                   

Dennis Parmer ED photo



About two and half years ago I wrote my first article as Executive Director. Back then, as I pondered what topic(s) to write about, I quickly came to the conclusion that I should write on how valuable volunteers are to SLHF. The same is equally true today; when I look at the SLHF organization, I see volunteers working at every aspect of the organization.
For example:
+ Board members give their time and expertise in managing the organization; they set policy and objectives for the organization. In addition to their personal financial contributions, board members are very active in raising funds for SLHF.
+ Volunteers serve as docents on Saturdays when the museum is open. They cheerfully greet our museum visitors and are happy to answer questions. (Editor's note: there is no expectation that you now everything there is to know to be a Saturday museum docent. Several years ago, we all came to the conclusion that no one has all the answers.) So sign up to be a Saturday docent by contacting 
Haroldetta Robertson at:
+ On the second Saturday of each month volunteer docents lead the Heritage Hike. This is a great group to be a part of. You will see and learn the history about the hill and some of the houses in old Sugar Land, and you will get a little exercise in the process. Please contact Hal Jay at to learn more.
It is worth repeating, volunteers are an integral part of everything we do. Our volunteers range in age from 14 to, well let's say, "a bit more than 14." Some volunteers have lived in Sugar Land or this area for less than a year; while others have lived here their entire lives.
We have volunteers who just started to volunteer, and we have a great group that have been volunteering for over five years. I think it is fair to say that our volunteers have a sense of community connection when they volunteer at SLHF.
Currently, we need volunteers to:
+assist in website maintenance (knowledge of Dreamweaver needed)
+coordinate the marketing program for the 2015 Water Tower ornament
+market / inventory the SLHF store

 We look forward to having you as a valuable part of SLHF.




5th in the series of historic Sugar Land structures

198 Kempner Street, Sugar Land 77498
The water tower was built in 1924 (circa) as a part of the Imperial Sugar Refinery expansion that included the Three Bay Warehouse a.k.a  A-B-C- Warehouse that was built in 1923 and the Char House that was built in 1925. The primary purpose of the water tower was to provide water to the fire suppressing system that was installed in the Char House. The water tower is approximately 50 feet taller than the Char House so as to generate enough water pressure to operate the sprinkler system. It is reported that when the water tower was built that it was the tallest water tower west of the Mississippi River.  
 The water tower was the first project that Jess Pirtle worked on when he moved to Sugar Land. Mr. Pirtle was an engineer & surveyor for Sugarland Industries. Mr. Pirtle also was a founding alderman of the City of Sugar Land in 1959. One of the main thorough fares in the Sugar Land Business Park is named after Mr. Pirtle.
In the summer of 2014, the Johnson Development Co. started the refurbishing of the water tower. The project included: fixing any structural issues, sanding, priming, and painting the inside of the water tank, sanding, priming with two coats the entire outside of the structure, as well as painting the entire structure. The project was successfully completed in 2015 at a cost of almost $500,000. The tower has "Imperial est. 1843" logo painted on the sides to represent the longevity of Imperial Sugar Company on this site and to serve as the logo for the redevelopment of the former refinery site.
The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation would like to thank Johnson Development Company for their investment in preserving this iconic structure. SLHF would also like to thank Randy Kozlovsky for the photograph that served as the model for this ornament.

Ornaments available mid-Sept.
Each ornament will include an insert card detailing history of the Water Tower. 

Order now
$30 (includes tax)
To order send email to:

next dates:    
Sept. 12        Oct. 10       Nov. 14  

Enjoy the some what cooler weather and learn the history of the "Old 300," Imperial Sugar, and the city of Sugar Land.  

Take a two hour stroll around the Imperial Sugar facility, up to the "Hill" and visit Lake View Auditorium.  Hear about the early settlements under Stephen Austin and learn how the sugar mill and then the refinery came to be.  Hear about the families who were responsible for making Sugar Land the great city it is today and learn some little known tidbits and some titillating trivia.  

Tours starts at the Sugar Land Heritage Museum at 10 am each second Saturday.  Cost is $10 for adults, $5 children, free under 12.



Richard "Dick" Phillips 
University of Houston Associate Provost
Richard "Dick" Phillips, University of Houston Associate Provost for Outreach and Community Engagement, will be the featured speaker at the next Chautauqua Talk on October 13, 2015. Mr. Phillips will be speaking on the history of the University of Houston Sugar Land and the fantastic plans for the Sugar Land Campus.

 Mr. Phillips will begin his 46th year in education this fall, 36 years at the university level. Prior to his current position, Mr. Phillips served as Associate Vice Chancellor for System Initiatives, coordinating academic program development and delivery, facilities planning and construction, community relations, marketing and all general administrative matters at UH System off campus locations, including the UH Sugar Land and UH System at Cinco Ranch campuses. 

Mr. Phillips has a Master of Science in Education with a major in Secondary School Administration and Supervision and a minor in Business.   He is actively involved in community organizations, currently serving as board member of the Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Council, Fort Bend P-16 Regional Council, Katy Area Economic Development Council and the West Houston Association.  He also is a member of the Fort Bend, Central Fort Bend and Katy Chambers of Commerce.
The Chautauqua Talk presentation featuring Dick Phillips is free to the public. The event is co-sponsored by the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation and the Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation.  Please join us at 7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) October 13, at the Sugar Land Auditorium, 226 Lakeview Drive, Sugar Land, 77498. 
The Sugar Land Chautauqua Talks are a series of entertaining and educational presentations related to Sugar Land history, suitable for audiences of all ages.  The name for the series (pronounced shə-TAW-kwə), is based on an adult educational movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  In fact, the Sugar Land Auditorium was designed in 1918, for use by the school and to host community events like the Chautauqua talks.  For more information about the history of Sugar Land, please visit or
The Hill cropped
Call for Artifacts
 Change is in the air in Sugar Land as the old Imperial refinery site has begun to transform through repurposing of buildings, demolition of non-iconic structures, and construction of new buildings! This is an exciting time for Sugar Land, and over the next two years, the Imperial site will become a popular destination for residents and visitors alike as the space will be lined with retail shops. It will also be home to the new Sugar Land Heritage Foundation museum. 

Although several elements of the museum are still in the design phase, the story-line for the new museum has been finalized. There will be a total of five different sections or eras that will be covered in detail:
1. Pre-Colonial: (pre Steven F. Austin)  Includes a brief introduction to a history of the area,  exploring different topics such as the different Indian tribes in the area, local geography, vegetation, and animals.                                              (Approximately 1%-2%)                                                                                        
 2. First Settlement: Covers the Steven F. Austin time frame as well as pre and post Texas Revolution, S.M. Williams and his brothers.                                                                     (Approximately 10%-12%)
 3. Early Development: Covers pre and post-Civil war (Kyle and Terry), the Cunningham and Ellis era, and the early production of sugar, 1836-1908.                                      
 (Approximately 20%-22%)
4. The Company Town: Begins with the purchase of the refinery by Kempner and Eldridge and goes until 1959.             (Approximately 20%-22%)                                                                
5. The Modern Era:   Examines the period from 1959 until today, showing all that has changed over the years, not just with Imperial, but with the city as a whole.                                  (Approximately 30%)
(Sugar technology and science, as well as important Sugar Land citizens, will be covered in both the Company Town and Modern Eras.)
Because this museum will be a reflection of the city, both from where it has come and to where it is going, we would like to include the community as we gather artifacts to be used in the exhibits. 
Using the five different era's as a guideline, items could include things like photographs, personal belongings, books, artifacts, maps, etc. One of SLHF's consideration in accepting artifacts will be the size and space the item would take up (no old John Deer tractors, please).

 If you have items that fall into these areas, please give us a call or send an email, and I would be happy to speak with you about your donation(s). 

This is your chance to help preserve Sugar Land's history for the next generation to learn from and to enjoy!
Chris Bohannan; Archivist and Curator

Heritage Trivia 

The first person to email the answers to the following questions will receive a $25 credit to the SLHF store. 

1. When and to whom was the entire 5,300 acre Ellis property sold? 

2. In 1928 Sugarland Industries was growing cotton and at least 11 other crops.  Name 8.  

3.  L.A. Ellis's 5,300 acres or land were located in which original leagues?  

Answers should be sent to:

The authority for all answers is
Sugar Land, Texas and the Imperial Sugar Company by R. M. Armstrong. 


To inspire community pride by collecting, preserving, communicating, and celebrating the history of Sugar Land, Texas.

Sugar Land Heritage Foundation

Dennis Parmer
Executive Director

Chris Bohannan
Lead Archivist

Chuck Kelly
Assistant Archivist
Board of Directors

W. Martin Nicholas
Vice President

Bettye Anhaiser

Bob Brown
Roy Cordes, Jr.
Mike Goodrum
Bruce Kelly
Regina Morales
Steve Porter
Claire Rogers
Bill Schwer
Allison Wen
John Whitmore

Farmers' Market
Every Saturday
9:00 - 1:00

Sugar Land Heritage Foundation Museum
Every Saturday
9:00 - 1:00

Docent-led Walks
2nd Saturday of each month at 10:00

$10 for adults
$5 for 12 - 18
Free for under 12

The next walks are   

September 12
October 10
November 14


Scott Coffee
Alyssa Coffey
Carolyn Gilligan
Jane Goodsill
Hal Jay
Paula Jay
Bruce Kelly
Marc Martinez
Shaleen Miller
Marisa Parks
Roberta Prater
Tracy Prater
Anish Rao
Betty Schofield
Marsha Smith
Cherry Wong

Dennis's Wish List!

Fire Proof Cabinet for Archivist Area


Steel Shelving to Store Artifact Collection


Funds for Build-Out for Museum Exhibits


Folding Tables & Chairs


Presentation Screen


Transcription Machine for Oral Histories



Mr. & Mrs. Bob Brown
Shay Shafie
Houston Methodist Sugar       Land Hospital
Allen, Boone, Humphries,       Robinson LLP
Union Pacific Railroad
CHI St. Luke's Hospital
Bettye Anhaiser
Sonal Bhuchar
Fort Bend Chamber of 
Roy Cordes
Sharon & Doug
Mary Favre
LJA Engineering
Johnson Development
Jane Goodsill
Sterling McCall
Justin & Mary Joyce
Marty & Pat Nicholas
Republic Services
Rice & Gardner
Claire Rogers
Debbie & William Schwer
Tim Stubenrouch
Sharon & Doug Whitmore


Carolyn Gilligan

Cherry Wong

Hal Jay

Haroldetta Robertson


Raymond McDonald



Paula Jay


Becky Parmer