GREAT CITIZENS - MISS IMA HOGG
The activities of Miss Ima Hogg, known as the "First Lady of Texas" benefited another section of the Oscar F. Holcombe Civic Center. Miss Ima was born on July 10, 1882 in Mineola, Texas, the only daughter of Sarah Ann (Stinson) and Governor James Stephen Hogg. Her father named her after the heroine in a long epic poem written by her uncle, Thomas Elisha Hogg.
In 1891, Miss Ima and her brothers Will, Tom and Mike with their father moved into the Texas Governor's Mansion in Austin upon inauguration as the nineteenth governor of the state. They remained there until the end of his second term in 1895. Among other qualities, Governor Hogg instilled in his four children a deep concern for the citizens of Texas.
Between 1899 and 1901, Miss Ima attended the University of Texas at Austin, which had opened in 1883, and thereafter moved to New York City to study music. She was very close to her father and was with him when he died in Houston in March 1906. After his death, she continued to study piano both in the United States and in Germany and, in 1909, moved to Houston to teach. She was one of the organizers of the Houston Symphony Society when it was formed in 1913 and served as its second president from 1917 to 1921.
In 1918, the Hogg family developed their West Columbia oil field, south of Houston, and their wealth increased substantially. Like her brothers, Miss Ima used her share for the benefit of the public. Among her endowments was one for the founding of the Houston Child Guidance Center, an innovative institution in the field of child psychology. In addition, she helped carry out her brother Will's legacy after he died in 1930. One of his bequests resulted in the creation, in 1940, of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin.
From 1943 to 1949, Miss Ima served on the Houston School Board. Between 1946 and 1956, she served 10 more years as president of the Houston Symphony Society. Involved with the symphony throughout her life, Miss Ima was instrumental in attracting several world famous conductors. In 1948, she became the first woman president of the first women president of the Philosophical Society of Texas. She was also active in the Welfare Association, Texas State Historical Association and Daughters of the republic of Texas.
Miss Ima was avidly interested in the history of the state of Texas. In the 1950's she restored her father's 66-acre plantation north of West Columbia in Brazoria County. The home itself was built around 1824. In 1956, the site became the Varner-Hogg Plantation State Park and Miss Ima deeded the property to the state.
She also became involved in activities outside the state of Texas. In 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Miss Ima to the advisory committee on the arts for the National Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., which later became the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 1962, she was appointed by Mrs. John f. Kennedy as adviser to the White House's Fine Arts Committee.
In 1963, Miss Ima became the first woman to receive the University of Texas Distinguished Alumnus Award. In the same year, she purchased some 131 acres of historic tracts of land in Winedale, Fayette County, Texas, and supervised extensive restoration of the properties. Two years later she donated the land and the building to the University of Texas at Austin; they became the Winedale Museum, an outdoor museum and study center. She later donated some five acres of land to the 26-acre Governor Hogg State Park, a Wood County historical site named for her father.
Miss Ima was an active supporter of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, to which she donated many significant works of art, including several Remingtons. An avid collector of early Texas furniture as well, Miss Ima made an outstanding contribution to the museum in 1966 when she donated the Hoggs' 15-acre River Oaks estate, Bayou Bend. Built in 1929, it houses one of the finest collections of early Americana, seventeenth to nineteenth century decorative arts and the second largest collection of American antiques in the nation. At the same time, she established a $750,000 securities endowment for the maintenance of the mansion and the surrounding formal gardens.
In October of the same year, Miss Ima was honored at the twentieth annual awards banquet of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, held in Philadelphia. Recipient of the seventh annual Louise du Pont Crownishield Award, established in 1960, Miss Ima and her work in Texas restoration were nationally recognized. Accepting the award, Miss Ima expressed the philosophy that motivated her philanthropic and cultural contributions in these words:
"Texas, an empire in itself geographically and historically, sometimes seems to be regarded as remote or alien to the rest of our nation. I hope in a modest way Bayou Bend and these other memorials may serve as a bridge to bring us closer to the heart of an American heritage that unites us."
Held somewhat in awe by those who knew her for her many contributions to the cultural life of Houston, Miss Ima once spoke to a young matron who had come to take her for a Sunday drive. "Many people assume," she said, "that if one has plenty of money, one's situation is ideal. They forget that I have no husband, no children and no close relatives in Houston. On Sundays the servants are off and if you had not called, I would have been alone all day in that empty house." Miss Ima's young fiancé was killed in World War I and after the war she had spent some weeks in Gurdjieff's sanatorium in Fontainbleu, where Katherine Mansfield wrote several of her well-known books.
In June 1968, the University of Texas bestowed the prestigious Santa Rita Award on Miss Ima, the first person to receive it, for her activity in higher education. The highest honor bestowed on an individual by the university, the institution named the award for the first oil well to produce on land owned by the university in West Texas, on May 23, 1923.
While visiting London, Miss Ima died on August 19, 1975 at the age of 93. The major beneficiary of her will was the Ima Hogg Foundation.