Houston Infirmary


The site of the Houston Permitting Center is rich with history. The original building was constructed in 1883 by David Finney Stuart, M.D. and Joshua Larendon, M.D., and helped develop an early Houston skyline. Dr. Stuart and Dr. Larendon were two young doctors who served during the Civil War, moved to Houston and founded the Houston Infirmary. Soon after, the two physicians brought in a third partner, Dr. Thomas Joel Boyles.

The infirmary had two stories with a wrap-around colonial style porch. The infirmary provided trauma and general medical care primarily to railroad workers due to the infirmary’s close proximity to the expanding rail industry. This two-story wooden structure was just two blocks from where the first Jefferson Davis Hospital would be built four decades later. In 1887, the infirmary offered Houston’s first training school for nurses and introduced ambulance service. The building helped establish Houston as a medical center to the region of south Texas. The infirmary continued to serve the Houston community until 1913.

Historic picture of the Houston Infirmary
Houston Infirmary ambulance service with the Houston Infirmary in the background. Source: The University of Texas


Butler Brothers Warehouse

After the infirmary closed, the building was sold to merchants who used it as a warehouse. In 1919 Henry F. Jonas and Mr. Tabor reconstructed the building to suit their Butler Brothers business: a wholesale general merchandise company from Chicago. They added a basement and loading dock to the building. The building was considered state-of-the-art in its time as it was a fireproof warehouse with an automatic sprinkler system.

The Butler Brothers firm was only in Houston until 1924 when the building was leased and reoccupied by Universal Terminal Warehouse Company. In 1940, two additional stories were added to the building making it the current 4 stories tall plus a basement.  The building remained under Universal Terminal Warehouse Company’s management into the 1980’s. By 1996, the building was vacant, however, Houstonians hoped to keep the historic landmark.  

The City of Houston purchased the building in 2009 and began the LEED certified renovation of the warehouse with the purpose of turning it into the Houston Permitting Center.