Your Next Best Bets for Houston’s Most Historic Car Dealership Building Once 1621 Milam Gets Demolished

With the former Shelor Motor Company building at 1621 Milam St. all but doomed to meet the wrecking ball, historian Stephen Fox digs through some old Chronicle clips to remind us that there’s still a few other old car dealerships lurking down south in Midtown. Sure, they may not be as pedigreed as the ill-fated building to the north, but get this: One of them still sells cars! It’s Midtown Cadillac at the corner of Main and McGowen streets, shown at top. Architect Harvin C. Moore — the brains behind more than 84 homes in River Oaks, as well as Rice University’s chapel — designed it for Sam White Oldsmobile (pictured above), which opened inside in the early 1950s, according to Fox. Sam White and its successor Rice-Menger occupied the building until 1985. It’s been a Cadillac dealership since Don Massey took it over in 1999, followed by Stewart and then Central in 2012.

Catty corner to it, Midtown seafood spot REEF was originally a dealership, too. Built in 1952, the building opened as Smith Chevrolet Co.:


Dealerships, according to Fox, had been present in Midtown since the ’20s, but the majority of them didn’t trickle down there from the Shelor (and later, Houston Press) building’s whereabouts in Downtown’s already-bustling Milam Street auto row until the late ’40s and early ’50s.

The Ensemble Theatre — at Berry St. across from the Mid Main Lofts — is another one:

It went up in 1948 and housed the Berry Motor Company showroom.

Photos: Central Houston Cadillac (2520 Main St.); Ken Rudine (Sam White Oldsmobile); Jill N. (REEF); The Ensemble Theatre (3535 Main St.)

Inner-Loop Auto Lore

One Comment

  • And this is why we love Stephen Fox. He’s been an enduring advocate for the history and aesthetics of Houston and much of Texas as well.