Sloane Gallery brings Houston history alive

August 25, 2009 3:35:25 PM PDT
The Sloane Gallery in west Houston is taking its visitors on a trip back in time. It has on display a huge collection of Houston's photographic history. Houston may be a city of growth and new construction, but the owner of Sloane Gallery says we shouldn't forget the city's history.

When visitors set foot inside Story Sloane Art and Custom Framing, owned by Story Sloane III, they are suddenly in a walking tour of Houston's past.

"One of my favorite photographs [is one] looking west from the top of the Gulf Building at the civic area," Sloane said.

Sloane's father saved the negatives from destruction and Sloane is now archiving them, blowing them up, and even publishing a book of the pictures of Houston in the 1920s and 1930s.

One photo taken in June 1928 shows, according to Sloane, "Main and Franklin, looking due south, which happened to be the business district in Houston in the '20s and '30s."

Many of the photos were taken during the Prohibition era. One shows, "whiskey stills that they confiscated? all piled up in front of the Harris County Courthouse," Sloane described.

Sloane is a living encyclopedia of Houston's history, a third generation Houstonian who can talk about the things that had the biggest impact on the people of the city.

"As early as the late 1920s, they had air conditioning on automobiles," he said. "That was very, very progressive for that time."

Hundreds of photos line the walls, all for sale, but the price tag may be out of reach, so Sloane is hoping his book puts history in easy reach.

He said, "I think it's important for Houstonians to know about their past."

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