By August 4, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

Hogg Heaven!

4949af617558b400dc32eace7279ef09For decades, Houston children have laughed and delightedly mocked the Hogg family girls:  Ima Hogg and Ura Hogg.

Who would name their children thus?  Answer: Not Texas Governor James Hogg and his wife, Sara.   There was no sister Ura, but Imagene Hogg became one of the art world’s great collectors and a leading philanthropist in Texas. And, yes, she was called Ima.  Usually, “Miss Ima”, as she preferred.

A group of friends and I recently visited Bayou Bend, the Hogg estate, now a site of the Houston Museum of Arts.  In the midst of the urban center, the house and grounds are stunning with 14 acres of natural woodlands and gardens.  When Miss Ima’s  brother Will was developing the prestigious Houston suburb of River Oaks in the 1920’s,  he set aside the 14 acres for the family mansion. As the site was bordered on two sides by a bend in Buffalo Bayou,  Bayou Bend was named.

c0bb2c46b5a8cd527373e687d9af3fb5The gardens were begun when Miss Ima was 44 years old and reflect her love of flowers, natural woodlands, her passion for history and all things classical.  The historical house has over 2500 objects which are displayed in room settings.  The collection includes masterpieces of American furniture, paintings, silver, and ceramics, and 19th-century Texas decorative arts.  With the exception of Miss Ima’s personal suite, each room in the house reflects artifacts from  a specific period in American history dating from the 1600’s to the 1800’s.


Miss Ima

Miss Ima was eight years old when her father was elected Texas Governor.  At age three, Miss Ima was playing the piano, and years later studied music at the University of Texas, and in Berlin and Vienna.  After her father’s death, she returned to Houston in 1906.  She helped found the Houston Symphony, and served on the Houston ISD school board.  After oil was struck on the Hogg property near Columbus, Texas, she became involved in a large number of philanthropic projects.  She presented her collections and Bayou Bend estate to the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston in 1966.  In 1975, she died of complications from a traffic accident in England.  Miss Ima was 93 years old.

We visited the museum in early Spring which, of course, features the gardens in all their glory.  Throughout the year, there are many special events and exhibitions, and I’m looking forward to the Yuletide 2015 exhibitions featuring historic decorations and holiday concerts.


Visitors in front of the statue of Clio, the Muse of History.

All this being said, walking through the gardens and the house makes me wonder more about about Miss Ima, personally.  It’s known that she spent a couple of years in Philadelphia under the care of a specialist in mental and nervous disorders, returning to Houston in 1923 to develop the mansion and the beautiful gardens.

Certainly, she was a good and faithful daughter, sister,  and public servant.

We felt her spirit as we walked the beautiful trails.

(And, still, the legend of Ura Hogg persists.)

 CircleBen-02_100x115Perhaps Franklin’s best-remembered charitable donation was his final bequest. Franklin left £1,000 to his native Boston and another £1,000 to his adopted Philadelphia. Both bequests were held in trust, to gather interest for 200 years. At the end of the first century, each city had the right to withdraw capital from the trust; by the close of the second, each was required to spend it down. In 1990, the trusts were required to sunset. Philadelphia elected to spend its remaining $2 million on scholarships for local high school students. The $5 million in Franklin’s Boston trust was used to establish a trade school: the Franklin Institute of Boston.

Ben also introduced the concept of “matching funds” for public projects.



Posted in: Travel Life

About the Author:

I am an observer of our interesting world , sharing my passions and my outrages, and thinking of Incredible Ben, his amazing blending of a social and civic life with superb common sense.

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