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The Orris D. Brown Collection, no. 2 - San Jacinto Memorial (1936-39)

Houston Metropolitan Research Center

Silent | 1936

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  •  Jesse H. Jones (L), Andrew Jackson Houston (R) 
  •  Jesse H. Jones speaking 
  •  Andrew Jackson Houston speaking 
  •  Texas longhorns, Bald and Spot, owned by E.H. Marks, seen on right 
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This film from the Orris D. Brown Collection documents the groundbreaking, construction, and dedication of the San Jacinto Monument, spanning from the groundbreaking on April 21, 1936, to the dedication on April 21, 1939. The monument, a 570-foot shaft topped by a 34-foot star symbolizing the Lone Star Republic, is located at the site of the Battle of San Jacinto and honors all of those who fought for Texas’ independence from Mexico during the Revolution. It was designed by architect Alfred C. Finn and engineer Robert J. Cummins. The Sons and Daughters of the Republic of Texas and Houstonian Jesse H. Jones, then the Secretary of Commerce for President Roosevelt, raised the funds for the memorial to begin construction as part of the Texas Centennial celebration under the Public Works Administration. Included in the footage are scenes of Jesse Jones and Andrew Jackson Houston, son of Sam Houston, as they arrive at the groundbreaking then drive a 100 year old Texas plow pulled by two Texas longhorns, Bald and Spot, owned by prominent Texas cattleman E.H. Marks.
Orris Dorr Brown was born in 1890 in Henderson, Texas. He married Edna Myra Webb in 1923, and together they traveled domestically and abroad teaching cake decorating techniques using edible sugar. Brown became interested in filmmaking in the early 1930s and began filming scenery and sites as he traveled. Texas became the focus of many of his films, and he traveled extensively throughout the state to document historical figures and locations, most notably scenes of Uncle Jeff Hamilton, Sam Houston's personal slave (watch this film in the TAMI library). In 1936, Brown filed for a U.S. patent for a Moving Picture Machine through which to view films. He moved into professional filmmaking as an employee of Empire and Superior Studios in the 1940s and 50s to film full-length pictures. Orris D. Brown was a Shriner and a Free Mason. He passed away in 1965.
The digital preservation of this collection was made possible by a grant to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image and the Houston Public Library from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The Orris Brown films, and many other interesting films about Texas, are available on the Houston Public Library Houston Area Digital Archives website.