LOCAL Houston | The City Guide May 2016 - Page 53

FOOD | ARTS | COMMUNITY | STYLE+LEISURE “WHO WAS...?” GEORGE R. BROWN Brown, George R. | 1943 Photography courtesy of RICE University Photography courtesy of Goerge R. Brown Convention Center by Gary Barchfeld IF ANY OF YOU HAVE BEEN WATCHING THE SHOWTIME HIT BILLIONS, YOU KNOW IT’S NOT EASY TO HAVE A BUILDING OR ANYTHING FOR THAT MATTER (EXCEPT YOU FIRSTBORN CHILD) NAMED AFTER YOU. IN THIS COLUMN WE WILL BRING TO LIGHT THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE PARKS, BAYOUS, BUILDINGS, ROADS AND PUBLIC WORKS AROUND TOWN. FIRST UP… GEORGE R. BROWN CONVENTION CENTER opened in September 1987 and was named after native Houstonian, entrepreneur, civic leader and philanthropist GEORGE R. BROWN, who donated six of the eleven blocks necessary to build the convention center. GEORGE RUFUS BROWN was born May 12, 1898, in Belton and moved to Temple in 1904. After graduating from Colorado School of Mines in 1922, he joined his older brother Herman at Brown & Root, which had been founded in 1919. On the way to eventually becoming one of the largest construction companies in the world and a merger with Halliburton, Brown & Root paved roads and built bridges as well as other public places in the city such as Rice Stadium (George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University is also named after him), the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, the Gulf Freeway from Houston to Galveston and the Pontchartrain Bridge (from New Orleans to Slidell). George and Herman, along with their wives, began the Brown Foundation in 1951. Their legacy continues with the Foundation’s support of Houston nonprofits, universities and institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. George R. Brown died in January 1983. may 16 | L O C A L 53