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Parks & Outdoor

Gus and Lyndall Wortham Park at Texas Medical Center

Posted: May 3, 2016 at 1:18 pm   /   by   /   comments (1)

This fabulous Wortham Park with water features and shaded areas just a hop skip and a jump across from the Texas Medical Center did not exist when I lived and worked there.  That was many years ago.

Wortham Park View

Here is a little history going back to those days. The notable Shamrock Hotel used to be in this same location.  At the time it was built in the 1940s it had the distinction of being the largest hotel in the United States.

Glen McCarthy was a very successful oil prospector and entrepreneur.  His hotel was furnished in an Art Deco style.  To say that the hotel and furnishings were lavish is an understatement!

What I remember most about it was the immense swimming pool.  It was the largest pool that I had ever seen!  Believe it or not, water skiing took place on it!  According to Wikipedia the equivalent cost to build just the pool would have cost some 200 million dollars in the year 2007.

I had gotten to eat in the beautiful lounge overlooking the pool several times on different occasions.  After my husband and I were married we went back to the Shamrock Hotel to eat at the Trader Vic’s restaurant which was located there.  My husband attended weekly Rotary Club meetings at that hotel for a time.

The hotel as well as Glen McCarthy was memorialized in the novel called Giant which was also later made into a movie.

Sadly the hotel was demolished in 1987 despite preservationist’s protests.  I remember when items from the hotel were being auctioned off.  There may be many mementos in people’s homes in and around Houston stemming back to those glory days.

The land was eventually donated to the Texas Medical Center.  On the northeast part of the former hotel grounds is now where the Gus S. and Lyndell F. Wortham Park can be found. You can see this park from Main Street & Holcombe Blvd., Houston, Texas 77030.

Gus and Lyndall Wortham are well known for their philanthropy in Houston. Many places bear the name Wortham. The Gus Wortham Memorial Fountain is another distinctive water feature in Houston.

Just north of the Texas Medical Center is the fabulous Hermann Park.  It is a wonderful and expansive city park containing among other things a Japanese Garden, Miller Outdoor Theater, a miniature railroad, the Houston Zoo, a public golf course and so much more.

At the Houston Zoo is the Wortham World of Primates.  The Houston Museum of Natural Science is located in the northwest corner of Hermann Park and inside is the Wortham IMAX theater as well as the Cockrell Butterfly Center.  Those are just a few examples of many places stamped with the name Wortham in Houston.

John Burgee Architects was the architectural firm which created the Gus and Lyndall Wortham Park.  That firm is also responsible for some notable buildings in Houston as well as elsewhere.

The distinctive Pennzoil Place in downtown Houston earned an AIA award back in 1978.  Williams Tower (formerly the Transco Tower) is where the Williams Water Wall is located.

 

1991 was the year that the Gus and Lyndall Wortham Park was created and it is a great escape from the everyday happenings that go on in the many hospitals and clinics of the huge medical center.

I am speculating that it was primarily intended for the patients and patient’s families as well as the medical personnel who study and work there.  The reason for my speculation is the lack of public parking near the park.

 

My husband actually stayed in the car while I walked through the park taking my photos.  There are many signs indicating that cars will be towed if left at nearby businesses.  Of course one can pay to park in the garages at the medical center or nearby places but that can get expensive.

The splashing water sounds of the park and shaded covering as well as manicured green lawn spaces with rows of trees is delightful to experience.

Had this Wortham park existed when I lived in the nurse’s dorm of the Texas Medical Center, I would surely have spent some time there.  The six story nurse’s dorm no longer exists nor do surface free parking lots such as I got to use back in 1969 and the early 1970s.

Located at a busy intersection of the Texas Medical Center, this park is beautiful even if viewed from a passing vehicle.  It is a gem of a park space that I am sure many people will enjoy for years to come.

It is surely a site often used by professional photographers when taking special occasion photos.