AKA: Gulfgate Shopping City, Houston, TX; Gulfgate Mall, Houston, TX

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - shopping malls

Designers: Graham, John and Company, Architects and Engineers (firm); John Graham Jr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1954-1956, demolished 2001

Houston, TX

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John Graham and Company of Seattle became a national leader in the design of shopping centers during the 1950s, beginning with its pioneering Northgate Shopping Center, Seattle, of 1950.

Building History

Seattle-based John Graham and Company designed the Gulfgate Shopping Center in Houston, TX, in 1954-1955, for a site at the crossing of the Gulf Freeway and US Interstate 610. Owned by Theodore W. Berenson and Associates of Boston, MA, Gulfgate opened on 09/20/1956, with several anchor stores, including a 228,900-square-foot Joske's (a San Antonio-based department store established in 1867), a 128,900-square-foot Sakowitz (a retail chain founded by Tobias Sakowitz [1882–1970] and brother Simon [1883–1967] in Galveston, TX, in 1902), Weingarten's (a Houston grocery store chain dating back to 1901), and two five-and-dime stores, a 69,400-square-foot J.J. Newberry (a business founded by John Josiah Newberry [1877-1954] in Stroudsberg, PA, beginning in 1911) and W.T. Grant (created in Lynn, MA, by William Thomas Grant [1876-1972] n 1906).

Graham worked with an associate architect, Irving R. Klein and Associates of Houston. The general contractor and engineering firm was Farnsworth and Chambers Company, Incorporated, of Houston. Lydick Roofing Comapny of Houston served as the sheet metal and roofing contractor. (See "Fabulous Gulfgate Shopping Center [advertisement for Revere-Keystone flashing]," Progressive Architecture, vol. 38, no. 7, 07/1957. pp. 172-173.)

John Graham and Company, along with a handful of other key architects, such as Victor Gruen (1903-1980), Lathrop Douglass (d. 1981), William Pereira (1909-1985), Charles Luckman (1909-1999), and Welton D. Becket, Sr. (1902-1969), helped to perfect the commercial formula for the shopping center in the 1950s. Of this pioneering group, only Douglass practiced outside the West Coast, in CT. His son, Lathrop Howe Douglass (b. 1951), also an architect, resided in Seattle, WA.


At a cost of $1 million, the originally open shopping center was enclosed in 1965-1967, one of the earliest air-conditioned shopping malls in the US. The mall contained 72 stores at the time of enclosure and 81,000 square feet of shared mall space. It opened in Spring 1967.


Gulfgate was vacated in 2000, and torn down the following year. Other retail stores have been built on its site.

PCAD id: 18010