Astrodome Texas Legacy Sculpture + More in Carruth Plaza
Texas Legacy is the title of a beautiful western sculpture but also seems an appropriate title for the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. This iconic structure was the very first domed indoor sports stadium in all of the United States. It was state of the art when it opened in 1965 and was considered the “8th Wonder of the World. ”
Since that time many other larger stadiums have been built including the NRG Stadium right next to the old grand dame (Astrodome) which closed to the public in 2008. The NRG Stadium and Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston both have retractable roofs and can seat many more people for events.
The Astrodome has fallen into disrepair over the years but it has been deemed worthy of rescue. In January of 2014 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has also been named a State Antiquities Landmark similar to the Alamo in San Antonio. While plans are still being determined as how best to use this facility, at least it will be protected from demolition.
My husband and I attended the Houston Auto Show at NRG Center on January 25th of 2018. NRG Center used to be called the Astro Hall. After viewing the many cars and other vehicles I wanted to take some photos of the beautiful sculptures around the Astrodome. The sculptures are placed in an area called Carruth Plaza located between the Astrodome and the NRG Stadium. Allen H. “Buddy” Carruth was a former chairman of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Most of the bronze sculptures have a western flair and relate to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo which is the largest of such rodeos and livestock shows in the entire world.
All of these sculptures are located in one general area and a crushed granite path leads from one to another. The plantings and water features around some of the sculptures add even more to the beautiful setting. Some of the plants were not quite as lush and pretty due to some recent freezing weather in Houston but they will recover or be replaced as needed.
This beautiful herd of horses titled Wild And Free was created by Edd Hayes, Sculptor. It was chosen by the Western Art Committee of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to commemorate its 60th Anniversary in 1992. Contributors were listed as follows:
- Garry L. Plotkin
- Randall’s / Bob & Kay Onstead
- John & Robin Milutin
- Leroy & Susan Littlefield
- Tom & Mimi Dompier
- Mr. & Mrs. Frank Dimaria
- I.W. & Dianne Marks
- I.W. Marks Jewelers, Inc.
- Ken & Angie Caldwell
- Greg & Mark Davis in Memory of Gwen Davis
- In Memory of O.C. & Lucy Motley
- The Fat Stock Show was renamed the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1961.
- 1966 was the first year that it was held at the Astrodome.
- From 1938 to 1965 the Sam Houston Coliseum was the setting for this immense annual event.
Cooks were certainly valued when it came to ranching let alone when it came to settlement of the west. The sculpture labeled “The Cookie” celebrates just such a person.
The sculptor Lawrence M. Ludtke depicted a woman happily looking at her prize winning ribbon after competing in the Houston Rodeo.
Learning roping skills are important to ranchers. The sculpture above depicts a young boy who was probably practicing those skills when he was interrupted by his playful dog.
Major league baseball was also played in the Astrodome as well as football and other activities. In the sculpture depicted below Vivian L. Smith was obviously a devoted fan of the Houston Astros. She would have been so very happy to know that her team won the World Series in 2017! The Astros now play their home games in Minute Maid Park.
A tall monolith marks the center of Carruth Plaza. Nearby is where most of these sculptures are located.
Crossing the street between the Astrodome and NRG Stadium was one more sculpture. I could not find a plaque crediting the sculptor. It depicts a bull with flared nostrils in a running pose. Anyone wishing to ride this raging bundle of muscle and fury would have quite a time of it!
We walked the entire perimeter of the Astrodome to make sure that we did not miss any sculptures. There is one missing however! It is the one pictured below.Chief Touch the Clouds was donated by the sculptor David McGary and his wife to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1998. The 20,000 pound sculpture which stood 18 feet high was too large to be moved to the Carruth Plaza and was in need of some restoration. The HLS&R sold it to the city of Edmond, Oklahoma where it now resides among many other sculptures in that art loving community. The sculpture depicts the Minneconjou Teton Lakota Chief who was said to be the cousin of Chief Crazy Horse.
I hope you enjoyed this look at the bronze sculptures near our iconic Astrodome. The Astrodome address is 8400 Kirby Drive, Houston, Texas 77054.