The Garden That Once Sank Where the Mecom Fountain Rose

Montrose at Main, ca. 1925 from Preservation Houston archives

Mecom Fountain in front of Hotel ZaZa, Main and Montrose, Houston

The elliptical roundabout where Main and Montrose come together has gotten a bit taller since the scene showed in the photo above (which the archivist activists at Preservation Houston dug out of their files this week). The photo shows the sunken garden that once occupied the space at the acute intersection; the Museum of Fine Arts building can be seen lurking behind a few trees in the background, flanked to the left by the long-gone Montrose Apartments. A trail of mid-1920s automobiles can be seen caravaning northeast alongside Main St.’s spacious esplanades toward a sparsely-towered Downtown.

The fountain (which was recently granted protected historic landmark status after its crowdfunded de-restoration) replaced the gardens in the 1960s when John Mecom built redid the Warwick Hotel nearby (shown in the second photo above in its more recent but still storied reincarnation as Hotel ZaZa). Below is a look straight up now-well-treed Montrose Blvd. from southeast of the fountains, along Hermann Park’s rail-sliced Grand Gateway corridor — that’s the 5000 Montrose condo tower on the left, and the Museum Tower on the right:


Mecom Fountain, Main at Montrose, Museum District, Houston, 77006

Photos: Preservation Houston (top),  Gary Hunt (2nd), elnina (3rd), Russell Hancock (4th)

Growing Up at Montrose at Main

8 Comment

  • Umm… The Warwick dates to 1925 as well. It’s just out of the frame in the photo above. The Mecoms built the pool, roof, and rear additions and moved the entrance to the back in the 1960s…

  • Oops — thanks for catching the error, Spencer! Post has been updated.

  • Ack!! Photographic evidence that the Mecum fountain is really just gentrification of an otherwise beautiful and natural garden. Come on all you historic preservationist, let’s tear it out and replant with a sunken garden. Crowd funding to start immediately. Also we will sue to stop the spending of money on restoring what is clearly not a REAL historic part of Houston.

  • God bless you for responding to a comment that started with “Umm…”.

  • Hmmmm ….

    Maybe we should take out the Mecom fountain and restore the circle to it’s original, HISTORIC state as a sunken garden.

  • Ok snarksters, 1) the sunken garden was mainly eye candy for the upper floors of the hotel when Main St. was a bleak area, 2) a garden for sitting/strolling has no place inside that traffic circle today; it’s no longer pedestrian-friendly (though I’ve seen lots of bridal parties in there for hot, sunny picture ops)

  • Yes – restore the sunken garden – but don’t pull any weeds from it, nor trim the shrubs – those are historic relics of a long-lost piece of Houston history, to be treasured and cherished.

  • When I was a younger native Houstonian, my mother told me the story of when the Mecom fountain first began operating, Houston was experiencing exceptionally windy weather prompting it to be affectionately be referred to as the “Mecom car wash”. I’ll bet the former sunken gardens never gained such notoriety.