Chevron's demolition of historic Shelor Motor Company Building downtown appears imminent

Shelor Motor Company Building (1928) /  photo by Jim Parsons

Shelor Motor Company Building (1928) / photo by Jim Parsons

With permits in place and the site fenced off, Chevron is moving forward with the demolition of one of the last remnants of downtown Houston's automobile row of the 1920s. Architectural historian Stephen Fox has written an article for the Houston Chronicle's Gray Matters explaining why the energy corporation should preserve the former Shelor Motor Company (1928), 1621 Milam at Pease. Preservation Houston has contacted Chevron encouraging the company to halt the demolition.

When it was completed in 1928, the new home of Shelor Motors was celebrated for its innovative design. The Dodge dealership's showroom was on the first floor, with repair and maintenance facilities  on the upper floors and a parking deck on the roof. In the late 1960s, Gillman Pontiac was the last auto dealership to occupy 1621 Milam. The building housed the offices of the Houston Press from 1998 to 2013 and has stood vacant since.

Chevron says the building does not fit the corporation's needs, but has announced no plans for the block containing the Shelor building. The oil giant also owns the site of the demolished Downtown YMCA (1941, Kenneth Franzheim).

In other cities, automobile dealerships of a similar vintage have been successfully restored and reused for a variety of purposes. Fort Worth's Firestone Service Store (1930) is an apartment leasing office and community center; Packard dealerships in Philadelphia (1910) and Buffalo (1926) have been repurposed as lofts and office space; and a number of buildings in Oklahoma City's Automobile Alley historic district now house shops, restaurants and residences.