Newest city landmark recalls Houston's first oil boom

 The Howard Oil Company's Seedhouse features original heavy timber framing and brick firewalls. /  photo by Jim Parsons

The Howard Oil Company's Seedhouse features original heavy timber framing and brick firewalls. / photo by Jim Parsons

Note: This post was edited to reflect the fact that the landmarked building was built in 1912 to replace an earlier seed warehouse that burned. Read the landmark nomination for the Howard seedhouse here.

A surviving remnant of the once-booming cottonseed oil industry is among the newest City of Houston landmarks. At the request of the building's owner, Preservation Houston staff conducted the research, writing and photography for the application that resulted in landmark status for the Howard Oil Company Seedhouse. City Council approved the landmark designation this morning.

 Howard Oil Company Seedhouse (1912) /  photo by Eva Littman

Howard Oil Company Seedhouse (1912) / photo by Eva Littman

The building was constructed in 1912 as the Howard Oil Company's cottonseed warehouse at 1200 National Street, north of Washington Avenue and east of Studemont. At almost 40,000 square feet, the structure is an exceptional work of architecture, with heavy timber framing and interior brick firewalls.

Cottonseed was considered a waste product of Southern agriculture until businesses recognized its value as fertilizer, livestock feed and cooking oil. The region's industrialization after the Civil War spurred the growth of the cottonseed industry and Texas became a leading producer of cottonseed products with mills opening across the state.

Howard Oil was established in 1880 and employed 500 workers by the late 1880s. The mill closed in the 1920s and one section of the former cottonseed warehouse was used to store rice while a radio and refrigerator distributor occupied another portion of the building. The warehouse is the only structure remaining from the extensive Howard Oil mill complex. Part of the building is currently occupied by Historic Houston's salvage warehouse.