Built in 1912, the Huaco Club was one of the places to be for Wacoans of the 1910s. From golf and tennis to social events, wealthier Wacoans enjoyed spending time at the country club, located near Sanger Avenue and 29th Street.
However, the club didn’t last long. On January 4, 1917, the Huaco Club lost its clubhouse and surrounding structures to a devastating fire. A three-story building designed by architect Roy Lane, the clubhouse included two dining rooms, a parlor, offices, living rooms, reading room, and ballroom. The club also featured a nine-hole golf course, bowling alley, and tennis courts, on 50 acres. The next morning’s Waco Morning News reported: “Not a stick of the building or its contents was saved.”
The club’s president, Dr. J.W. Hale, estimated that the fire’s destruction of the facility amounted to $70,000. In 1917, that was a hefty sum—in today’s money, that would equal nearly $2.3 million! Apart from the clubhouse, estimated at $35,000, and furnishings, the club’s stock of golf equipment for sale, and members’ personal gear were lost as well.
A report published soon after the fire in Safety Engineering, “Recent Fires and Their Lessons,” stated “Cause unknown” for the Huaco Club fire. But fire investigators concluded that losses were aided in part by the club’s late fire alarm system causing a delayed response by firefighters. It was also believed that its construction of easily combustible material enabled structures to become quickly engulfed by the flames.
The Huaco Club was the first golfing facility of its kind in Waco. In a 1915 article in The Waco Morning News, James Hays Quarles attributes Walter V. Fort with bringing golf to Waco in 1896. Fort was inspired by golf courses he saw in Dallas and worked with other prominent local citizens to assemble assets needed to establish a golf club.
The charter for the Huaco Club was organized and signed on May 20, 1910. It called for $40,000 to be raised with 200 members purchasing shares of $200 apiece. The charter stated: “The purpose for which this corporation is formed is to support and maintain a country club for the promotion and encouragement of outdoor life, the games of golf and tennis and other innocent sports and amusements.” In 1913, the shareholder number met its goal. By October 1915, it had 183 stockholders with 63 associate members.
The club was more than just about sports—it was a meeting place for many Wacoans and out of town visitors. Many well-known Waco businessmen and prominent male and female citizens were on its membership rolls. The club frequently hosted luncheons, dinner parties, dances, weddings, and banquets, mentioned in the society columns of Waco newspapers on many occasions.
Even though the Huaco Club and its contents were insured for approximately $26,000—far less than the $70,000 loss caused by the fire—plans for another golf facility were soon made. Chartered on August 27, 1917, and built circa 1920, the remaining club members opened a new facility, Spring Lake Country Club, at Day’s Lake in what is now Lacy-Lakeview. It included a larger course with 18 holes and an elaborate clubhouse. In a similar fashion as its predecessor, the new club continued to carry on various recreational as well as social functions. Meanwhile, the land the club occupied around 29th and Sanger Avenue was developed into one of Waco’s early “suburbs.”
The early days of golfing in the Waco area did have its setbacks and losses. But the sport that was once referred to as “pasture pool,” played in areas shared with grazing cattle, overcame such setbacks as the Huaco Club fire. Indeed, the love of the game, as well as the way it brings people together, still makes golf and its related activities thrive to this day, in and around Waco.
See more photos of the Huaco Club—before and after—in the Flickr slideshow below.
“Armstrong’s Stars” is a collaboration between the Armstrong Browning Library and Baylor’s Texas Collection. Once a month we feature a story about a celebrity that Dr. A.J. Armstrong brought to Baylor. These stories highlight an interesting part of Baylor’s history and include collection materials housed in both the Armstrong Browning Library and the Texas Collection.
This month’s story was contributed by Amie Oliver, Librarian/Curator of Print Materials, The Texas Collection.
One of the most exciting personalities to ever visit Baylor is one who has seemingly been forgotten by many. Writer and adventurer Richard Halliburton came to Baylor twice at the invitation of Sigma Tau Delta. His first visit occurred on March 23, 1929, just after appearances in Austin and Dallas, where thousands were turned away. Crowds from as far away as Hillsboro, Mexia, Belton, and Temple were expected in Waco (“‘Playboy Adventurer’ to be Presented in Chapel Tonight at 8” 1).
Apparently Halliburton’s lecture did not disappoint. He began by stating, “I am the only lecturer who has ever come to you with no philosophy, with no message, with no uplift, and with no problem to solve.” He then regaled the audience with tales of adventure exploring three continents as he “would rise to romantic heights and would dramatically sway his body as he told of a tense moment in one of his thrilling adventures.” (“Tales of Adventure Captivate Audience” 1). Halliburton entertained the audience for two and half hours. So moved by the performance, an article appearing on the Lariat editorial page nearly a week later declared:
“We were sorry that there were many in his audience who did not catch in a slight way the spirit of adventure and romance…. We were sorry that many went away still satisfied with their own little lives, content with the lethargy which had characterized their former days, and content to remain in Waco or in McLennan County the remainder of their brief span on this globe. They are the mediocre men and women who spend their time admiring the works of other men and pitying themselves for not being greater” (“Wanderlust” 2).
Seven years, three books, and one film later, Halliburton returned to Baylor for a lecture on March 19, 1936. Student tickets were reduced from 75 to 35 cents in an effort to entice many to attend the event at Waco Hall (“Halliburton to Speak Thursday in Waco Hall” 1). A McGregor high school student, Richard Phelan, longed to see his hero and hoped to interview him for his school paper (Phelan 64). Once at Baylor for the event, Phelan learned that a private post-lecture reception would limit opportunities to meet him. However, Mrs. Armstrong encouraged him to wait with other students seeking autographs backstage in the hopes that Halliburton would answer some questions (78).
When Halliburton took the stage, he noticed empty seats in the orchestra and invited students in the balcony to come down. Phelan noted that after Halliburton’s invitation, an older gentleman walked on stage and stepped into the wings. Just a few remarks into his lecture, Halliburton was called off stage. When he returned to the podium, he appeared shaken, but he continued his presentation (80).
After the event, Phelan headed backstage, where he got his autograph—and more. Mrs. Armstrong personally introduced Phelan to Halliburton and proposed an interview. Phelan and Halliburton dined at the Elite Café, where Halliburton told him that Dr. Armstrong was the gentleman who called him off stage to inform him that orchestra seats were sold at full price and students should not have been asked to move from the balcony. Halliburton was embarrassed by the faux pas. He was also disinvited from the reception in his honor, which is why Phelan was able to score the dinner and interview with his hero (103). Of course, most never knew about the exchange between Halliburton and Armstrong. Luther Truett of the Lariat published an article praising the lecture and Halliburton, the man who “held an audience spellbound for two hours without a blank moment.” Truett did note Halliburton’s gracious invitation for students to move from the balcony to the “best seats in the house” (Truett 3).
Halliburton was declared legally dead in late 1939 after the boat he was traveling on from Hong Kong to San Francisco sank during a typhoon. The Lariat published an article about Halliburton’s death, praising the “unique and unusual man” for accomplishing amazing feats, exploring foreign lands, for living a life that others envied, and who “died doing exactly what he wanted to do” (“Halliburton: American Ulysses” 2).
“English Frat Plans Trip to Fort Worth.” Lariat 29 March 1929: 1. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.
Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.
City leaders were considering closing the downtown portion of the river after the catastrophic floods of 1921, when the San Antonio Conservation Society helped save it by staging a puppet show.
In 1929, architect Robert H. Hughman presented his plan for “The Shops of Romula and Aragon” but after plans were halted during the depression, developers broke ground in 1939, beginning the River Project and what would become known as the River Walk, or the Paseo del Rio.
Flood control gates at the south and north ends of the horseshoe-shaped bend protect the area from high water levels which often follow hard rains. The concrete channel between the two ends of the bend was built as part of the over-all flood prevention program complete in 1929.
The HemisFair of 1968 gave old San Antonio River a new direction as the river was extended into the fairgrounds.
The river was named after St. Anthony de Padua on his feast day, June 13, 1691. In 1718 and 1731, five missions were built along the river, which was the start of what is now the city of San Antonio.
Fisher, Lewis F. River Walk: The Epic Story of San Antonio’s River. San Antonio, TX: Maverick Pub., 2007. Print.
Brown, Merrisa. “Wacky San Antonio Facts.” MySA. San Antonio Express-News, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.
See all of these images on Flickr. GIF and factoids by Haley Rodriguez, student archives assistant.