SLHF                                               November/December 2015

Trivia is here again.  Test your knowledge.                                   

Dennis Parmer ED photo



  Johnson Development Corporation (JDC), The City of Sugar Land (COSL), and Sugar Land Heritage Foundations have all been diligently working on various aspects of the future museum site. JDC has had the building stripped of all unusable pipes, fixtures, equipment, etc. They have power washed the inside and are now preparing to start putting in the new plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc. The City has been working with an architectural firm to design the inside of the second floor. SLHF has also engaged an architectural to work with the City regarding the build-out of our space. These are all big steps in the future repurposing of the building.
   It is a little premature to announce when we are going to open the museum because of several factors that need to be resolved. The good news is that these items are being addressed and progress is being made.
   The overall redevelopment is also picking up speed. Over the past three months several of the structures that were not in future plans have been demolished. I have received a few comments about structures being destroyed: some were concerned; some were glad to see something visible happening.
   Perhaps a bit of background information would be useful here. In 2007, the City created a Developers Agreement that addressed preservation of structures on the site. The agreements protects the following structures regardless of how the property is redeveloped: they are the Char House, Three Bay Warehouse, and the Water Tower. It is important to note that "all' other structures can be destroyed if the owner deems that to be the case.
   At present, the surface tanks are the only remaining structures to be demolished. The smoke stacks are to be relocated and a brand new structure build around them. The silos are to be repurposed also. To see the latest plans, please go to 

  The point can be made that too many structures have been demolished. The counterpoint is that only three structures are protected, but that at least six structures are going forward in the redevelopment. Back to the Developers Agreement, the philosophy behind that agreement was to preserve the vital structures without encumbering the redeveloper with so many "fixer uppers" that it would be impossible to be profitable. 

   A true story to that point. At a Skeeters game back in August, I saw a friend, a structural engineer with 25 plus years' experience and a partner in the company. I was telling him where our museum was going to be located and some of the challenges that we were dealing with such as the roof would need to be reinforced structurally if we wanted to have accessed and how much that would cost. He said, "I am familiar with the building / the site. Our company could have demolished that two story building and build a three story building in its place with roof access for the amount of money that is going to be spent repurposing that building." That statement really opened my eyes to the cost of repurposing an old building. I am still a preservationist, but now have a blend of realism added to the mix.
The mission of the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation is to inspire community pride by collecting, preserving, communicating, and celebrating the history of Sugar Land, Texas. 

  Come join us, contact us at 281-494-0261 or visit our website at

Shhh! Speakeasy Party A Crowd Favorite
  The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation kicked off its inaugural" Prohibition Speakeasy party with a fantastic event held at Anson Aviation's hangar located in Sugar Land Regional Airport complex. 

   Partygoers were treated with specialty cocktails featuring William Grant and Sons spirits, fine fare by local restaurants: Antonia's Italiana, Big Ben Tavern, Falbo Bros. Pizza, Songkran Thai Kitchen, Safari Texas, and Veritas Steakhouse and Seafood. Adding to the ambiance were music from the era and friendly games of chance, a.k.a. "a Casino". Guests were given special opportunities to have their pictures taken with two authentic vehicles from the era: a 1930 Model "A" Ford, a 1934 Ford Coupe, and a 1930's Stearman Biplane.  
   Sterling McCall Auto Group was the presenting sponsor; Imperial Market (developers of the Imperial Historic District) and Union Pacific also helped to underwrite the crowd favorite. Pop-up style entertainment featuring skits (Steve "Rocco" Stewart, James "Legs' Wong, Ira "Mugsy" Liebman, Dennis "Knuckles" Parmer) and songs by Saffire (Becky Hanne) and The Chairman of the Board (Ron Bailey) kept the attendees entertained and wondering what was next!
   The Boys-- Rocco, Mugsy, Legs and Knuckles (members of the "family" run business) -- kept the festive attendees in line throughout the event. Guests cheered on the flappers who showed off their gams to the tune of "New York, New York" performed by Ron "Chairman of the Board" Bailey. 
   The evening came to an appropriate end when uncover vice agents (James Ives and David Smith) and Stuart "Elliot Ness" Denton raided the party. A Sugar Land officer hauled off Dennis "Knuckles" Parmer to the pokey amidst cheers and jeers from the partygoers. 

   (shhh, pass the word: Speakeasy Two will be November 10, 2016 at Anson Aviation):

 Pictures from the Speakeasy held on November 5th

Sterling McCall was the Presenting Sponsor for the SLHF Speakeasy held on November 5 at Anson Aviation Hangar. Pictured left to right are:
Frank Pierce, Sterling McCall Buick / GMC
Tod Chapman, Sterling McCall Acura  
Steve "Rocco" Stewart
Ira "Mugsy" Liebman
Marvin Marcell, Group 1 Automotive
Dennis "Knuckles" Parmer

The Speakeasy Flapper Girls kick up their heels to the tune of New York, New York performed by Ron "The Chairman of the Board" Bailey!
Pictured left:
Diana Collins, Julia Mickum, Tamara Bates, Patty Stewart, Evie Martinez, Amy Mitchell, and Cyndia Rodriquez
Ron Bailey on stage. 

Betsy Schrader Rolling the Dice

James & Melissa Ives enjoy a 1930 Model A Sedan.



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
$25 (includes tax)
To order send email to:

next dates:   
Dec. 12      Jan. 9

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.


The Past, Present and Future of the University of Houston, Sugar Land

   If you were to ask a Sugar Land resident if positive changes are occurring in their city, I think you would hear a resounding "Yes."  I expect one thing many would identify would be the University of Houston Sugar Land (UHSL) campus located on University Boulevard. However, I doubt most citizens are aware the campus opened in 2002 with 1100 Wharton County Junior College (WCJC) and University of Houston (UH) students. The growth of this institution has been meteoric with the opening of a second building in 2009.  Today there are over 5000 students and the university is "full".  To put this in perspective Houston Baptist University has about 2600 students.  

   These facts and many more were presented in the eighth Sugar Land Chautauqua Talk by Associate Provost Richard (Dick) Phillips.

   Mr. Phillips led the audience through the early years of development. In 1995 Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby came out of retirement to become Chancellor of the UH System. He was instrumental in locating a site for their next campus.  In 1998 the Texas Department of Transportation transferred 250 acres, located at University Blvd. and US 59, to the UH System.  In 1999 money was received from the City of Sugar Land and the George Foundation to begin work on this campus of higher education. Groundbreaking began in 2000 with the installation of a parking lot provided by Ft. Bend County, followed by the construction of the first building, the George Building, in 2001. As Mr. Phillips' chronology unfolded significant events were layered year by year. 

   In 2008 Renu Khator, Chancellor of the UH system, appointed Richard Phillips to Associate Vice Chancellor for System Initiatives at UH. Since then he has guided the development of UHSL in this capacity. An Advisory Council was created in 2009 consisting of Sugar Land Mayor James Thompson, Fort Bend County Pct. 4 Commissioner James Patterson, Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Council President and CEO Jeff Wiley, George Foundation Trustee Gene Reed, Wharton County Junior College President Betty McCroahn, and Newland Communities Sr. Vice President Travis Stone.

   In 2011 a pivotal event happened in the assent of this young campus when oversite was transferred to the University of Houston System.  Until that time the campus was considered a Multi-Institute Teaching Center with no coordinated future planning.  In that year the UH Board of Regents approved the name UHSL, and it became fully connected to the UH System.  In 2013 a shuttle bus service to the UH main campus was added so UHSL students could access a full slate of courses in their pursuit of a four year college degree
   Through the evolution of the institution, creative and, I might add, rational thinking prevailed.  Freshmen and sophomores get their education from WCJC and the junior and senior classes receive their education from UH, in shared facilities and with shared employees.  The library on campus is both a county library and a college library where costs are shared between the two entities.  In brief UHSL is a win-win situation in which a student can get a four year college degree at a very reasonable price.

   Mr. Phillips was quick to recognize those in our community who were behind nurturing this development like Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bob Brown and Fort Bend County Judge Robert Hebert.  It is believed by many that the arrangements pioneered at UHSL may become the model for the nation as a whole.

  "And it is not over," as stated by Mr. Phillips "this is just the beginning."  Land along the US 59 feeder is planned for research partnerships between private companies and UHSL.  The UH College of Technology will be fully developed at UHSL next fall and the UH Bauer College of Business will be established in 2018.  Degree majors in Digital Media and Speech Language Pathology are only offered at the UHSL campus.  In conjunction with the main UH campus a PhD in nursing will soon be offered.  Mr. Phillips foresees UHSL will have 10,000 students in the near future. 

   Did you know there are only four tier-one universities in the state of Texas:  Rice, Texas A&M, UT and UH?  Yes, good things ARE happening in Sugar Land! With the rise of a first rate university in our midst, guided by innovative administrators and nurtured by our community leaders, "The Future is Bright for UHSL."

    As stated by Mr. Phillips, UH is "painting Sugar Land red" and as he further explained, it is being painted green with economic activity and opportunity that only a thriving UHSL can bring.
Article by Cliff and Susan Wagner  

Heritage Trivia 

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

1. By 1970's Imperial had sugar processing operations in what three Texas towns?

2. Name and location of high school attended by I. H. Kempner.  

3. Hines bought how many acres for what price from Sugarland Industries?

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

Lead Archivist

Chuck Kelly
Assistant Archivist
Board of Directors

W. Martin Nicholas
Allison Wen     
Vice President

Bettye Anhaiser

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

December 12
January 9


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



Sterling McCall Auto Group

Anson Aviation
Imperial Market
Linens by Lisa
Medical Search
Pamela Printing
Rice Gardner
Ron Bailey/PBS Architects
Safari Texas
Stacy Bynes/Welcome           Wagon
Union Pacific
William Grant and Sons
Ray Schilens/Radio               Lounge  USA

Antonia's Italiana
Big Ben Tavern 
Falbo's Pizza
Hyatt Place--Sugar Land
Songkran Thai Kitchen
Veritas Steak and Seafood

Capone's Brick Oven Pizza & Bar
Perry's Steakhouse and        Grille
Prohibition Club
The Drury Inn & Suites
The Marriott Sugar Land        Town Square
Cher Binks Events
Texas Taildraggers

Carolyn Gilligan

Cherry Wong

Hal Jay

Haroldetta Robertson


Raymond McDonald



Paula Jay


Becky Parmer