The Story of Steamboat House

Steamboat House RestaurantIn 1964, I, Charlie Fogarty, had a custom picture frame shop in Houston. One Saturday, Mr. Donald Lord, a neighbor of mine, came into the shop and "gave" me two "pictures" that were in an old building near downtown. The building was scheduled to be bulldozed, along with the pictures. Mr. Lord said that I needed to come and get the pictures soon or they would be lost forever. The two "pictures" turned out to be magnificent, old oil portraits of Sam Houston and George Washington that had been painted for and used in the 1936 San Jacinto Centennial Celebration and Parade. Mr. Lord told me that he hoped that "one day they would be displayed where the public could enjoy them."

In 1976, I framed the portraits for use in the U. S. Bi-Centennial. I contacted Texas Commerce Bank in hopes that they could be displayed in their grand lobby. The lady in charge of advertising and promotion said that nothing had ever been displayed in the lobby and they probably wouldn’t start now. However, she agreed to come and see the paintings. "Maybe there is another place in the bank where they could be displayed." After seeing the paintings, she said, "You can display those in the Texas Commerce Bank lobby. They can be the first items ever displayed there. I’ll get the brass posts and velvet ropes so that no one can touch them." After this, they went back into storage. In 1986, they were displayed in the Tomball Chamber of Commerce Sesquicentennial office for the year. Once again, they were returned to storage.

Sam Houston statueIn 2001, after being a partner in Goodson’s Café in Tomball for 16 years, I dreamed of opening a steak house and displaying the two old historic paintings. My wife, Senie and I, had dinner at a restaurant in Huntsville with friends, Gene and Judy. After dinner, we decided to go see the "Steamboat House", Sam Houston’s last residence, and Oakwood Cemetery where Sam Houston was buried. We spent an hour or so at "Steamboat House" looking in the windows and taking photos. The following day I began to sketch the floor plan of the restaurant "Steamboat House", a project that took 4 years of planning and work.

In 2003, I sold my interest in Goodson’s Café to my partner and son, Jimmy Fogarty. He has continued the tradition of serving "the best chicken fried steak in Texas." I hope my old friend and neighbor, Mr. Donald Lord, is looking down from Heaven proud of the part he played in saving the grand, old, historic paintings of Sam Houston and George Washington. I hope that "Steamboat House" inspires the public to explore the history of the great State of Texas.

Back To Top