Near the intersection of West Gray and Dunlavy, an unattractive, industrial red-brick warehouse is attached to a jungle-gym of transformers. In the evening, the building's only residents, a flock of crows, are barely audible over the drone of turbines and generators.
This building was likely constructed in the mid-1940s by once-household-name Houston Lighting & Power, long before it eventually became CenterPoint and Reliant.
More history on the building after the jump.
The story of H.L. & P. began in 1882, when Emanuel Raphael, a prominent Houston businessman and cashier at the Houston Savings Bank, filed charter for Houston Electric Light & Power Company. Backed by investors including then Mayor William R. Baker, H.E.L. & P. gained the city's consent to begin constructing power plants and electric lines.
After bankruptcy, a boiler explosion that left the city in darkness, and a few desperate financial buyouts, the company was reorganized in 1901 as Houston Lighting and Power Company (H.L. & P.) around the same time oil was discovered in the Houston area and H.L. & P. changed its boiler fuel from coal to oil.
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Though H.L. & P. transformed into Reliant in 1999 and then a portion into CenterPoint in 2002, remnants of these power plants still stand all over Houston with the label H.L. & P. prominent on the buildings. This particular building is in Montrose, and is currently in use and operated by CenterPoint. Emanuel Raphael's contributions to this city extended beyond electricity. His legacy lives on as a member of the first board of trustees for the William M. Rice Institute, today's Rice University.