Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Affordable Housing & The Argonauts (1880)

In 1880 The Galveston Daily News reported on the establishment of a new architecture /planning syndicate in San Antonio, Texas. The secret society --- led by Confederate brigadier general Hamilton Prioleau Bee (1822-97) -- formed to develop new suburban oases:

"Each subordinate body, which is termed a syndicate, procures a tract of land in a suitable locality, and subdividing it into town lots, streets, squares, parks, etc., proceeds to sell the building lots to such persons as may desire them. Thus far the society is identical with a city company, like the Galveston city company, but by the combination of all these companies into an alliance, and by the publication of an official journal, it affords a means of advertising each of these speculations more fully than could be done by any other manner. While this new order is without limit in its jurisdiction, it will be of the greatest benefit to Texas in providing new-comers with cheap homes in desirable localities, as well as enabling those possessed of large tracts of lands, to dispose of them at an advantage. Throughout our entire state there are localities that would become popular health resorts, on account of mineral springs, salubrious climate, providing persons seeking those homes could obtain a cheap home there. By starting a syndicate in these localities this benefit will be secured. The alliance is fully organized, and will secure a charter from the state of Texas. The first syndicate, called [?] Jason No. 1, was organized here Friday, and already a move is on foot to translate the laws and rituals into German and French, and starting other syndicates composed of persons of those nationalities. One feature of this society is that there is no restriction as to sex or physical infirmity, except what each syndicate may specially provide in its bylaws."(1)

The San Antonio Herald reported that the secret society -- the Alliance of the Golden Fleece -- lacked the features that made such organizations "so objectionable to a large portion of citizens."(2) Louis Giraud was its surveyor and Alfred Giles (1853-1920) was named its architect.

(1)"The Alliance of the Golden Fleece." Galveston Daily News 1 September 1880, Issue 139.

(2) Cited in Galveston Daily News 23 June 1880, Issue 79.

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