Photo Courtesy Melissa Albritton.

It was an hour or more of real fear on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Though the Shreveport Fire Department kept water trained on the giant blaze that had erupted at 114 Texas Street, they could not stop embers launching into nearby buildings, flames running the roofline and the searing heat scorching nearby walls. Without firefighters’ steady stream of water, an entire downtown block could have been leveled.

DDA photo

By the time the fire was out, 114 Texas Street- the building that used to house Humphree’s and the SportsPage, two clubs popular during the era of Shreve Square, was in ruin, but other buildings nearby- the Blind Tiger, SandBar, 401 Spring Street, the former Gigi’s and current Phoenix 2.0, were spared. All have smoke issues, some may have relatively minor roof or scorch issues, but the most severe effects of the fire were prevented.

DDA photo.

The building adjacent to 114 Texas, the former Chicago Club, may not have been so lucky. Much of the heat of the fire was focused on its east wall, a wall already compromised by years of neglect as a former interior wall of 114 Texas.

DDA photo.

After the site is released by Shreveport Fire Department investigators, Property Standards will move in to bulldoze remaining parts of walls that are tenuous and push the mound of 120+ year old bricks off the parking lot and pedestrian walkway.

DDA photo.

It is a sad and tragic end to an important piece of local history. While likely not the oldest building still standing downtown -that honor goes to the Spring Street Museum (1866) or possibly a building on Commerce Street- it was of the same era. The so-called cast iron column building (because of the cast iron columns that held up the front wall) dates to the mid-to-late 1800s, 1870 or perhaps 1880.

Ad from 1888.

Ad from 1896

1897 Photo Courtesy Twin Blends Photography.

By 1885, it was listed on the Sanborn fire maps as a wholesale grocer, which it remained until at least 1896. Over the years, it was office to cotton factors (merchants), a general store, a real estate company, the home of Shreveport Gas Electric Light and Power (1912), a dry goods, a supply company, and a farm store. By the 1950’s, the use of the building had turned to entertainment. It was the scene of a murder in 1950 when 99 Bar owner Joe Murad was killed there.

Photo Courtesy Twin Blends Photography.

But the building and environs were best known to locals as the weekend gathering spot for tens of thousands of revelers during the era of Shreve Square. 114 Texas housed a variety of nightspots from Cafe Pigalle to Tennessee Gin & Cotton Company, the Shade Tree Bar and finally Humphree’s in the Square and the Sportspage.

Photo courtesy Twin Blends Photography.

By the mid 1980s, the heyday of the Square had ended. Shreve Square businesses closed, buildings were demolished and 114 Texas became vacant. Years of tax purchasers followed, muddying the ownership and creating less incentive for potential developers to rehab the building to a modern use. At some point, as often happens to old buildings vacant for long periods, large portions of the roof collapsed. Without the roof structure to hold it in place, a large section of the east wall facing the Texas Street Bridge was the next to fall.

SFD and Property Standards on scene this morning. DDA photo.

In 2019, the building was sold through a parish process that clears title on adjudicated properties. The new owner, 114 Texas, LLC purchased the building for $22,400.

DDA photo.

This morning, two of the historic cast iron columns of the facade of 114 Texas are sitting atop rubble from the building. All that remains are some portions of walls that will have to be knocked down after Fire Department investigators have completed their examination of the space. That investigation may be able to determine what started the blaze, but it will not be able to undo it. Sadly, there is now little left other than the memories of what was.