Changing Houston

Historic Houston hotel site to become a new high-tech high school: No water skiing in the pool

Historic Houston hotel site to become a new high-tech high school

WHR Architects Rendering of New Debakey HIgh School for Health Professions
The new DeBakey High School for Health Professions is scheduled to open fall 2016. Photo Courtesy WHR Architects
Shamrock Hotel
The new DeBakey High School for Health Professions will be built where the historic Shamrock Hotel once stood. Photo Courtesy Wikipedia
WHR ADebakey HIgh School for Health Professions
The current DeBakey High School for Health Professions is located on Shenandoah Street. Photo Courtesy Debakey HIgh School for Health Professions
Shamrock Hotel Swimming Pool
The Shamrock Hotel swimming pool was large enough for water ski exhibitions. Photo Courtesy Arch-Ive.Org
WHR Architects Rendering of New Debakey HIgh School for Health Professions
Shamrock Hotel
WHR ADebakey HIgh School for Health Professions
Shamrock Hotel Swimming Pool

An important piece of Houston’s past is making way for the future. Houston Independent School District plans to build a new DeBakey High School for Health Professions on the site of the storied Shamrock Hotel in the Texas Medical Center.

 The new 195,000-square-foot high school will give up to 1,000 students the opportunity to explore and study. 

HISD will tear down the existing Edwin Hornberger Conference Center to accommodate the new school. The center was repurposed from the Shamrock’s former ballroom, and is the last vestige of the hotel that was built between 1946 and 1949 by wildcatter Glen McCarthy. The parking garage on West Holcombe is slated to remain part of the property.

The new 195,000-square-foot high school will give up to 1,000 students the opportunity to explore and study facets of medicine and health care in a five-story building complete with an enclosed atrium, cafeteria and lab and classrooms. WHR Architects is designing the school on Pressler Street. The project is scheduled for completion by fall 2016.

Before it was demolished in 1986, the Shamrock Hotel was legendary for its celebrity-studded grand opening billed as one of Houston’s most impressive and an expansive swimming pool that allowed for water skiing. The hotel had its Hollywood moment as the Conquistador in the 1956 film, Giant. Hilton Hotels bought the property in 1955 and eventually sold it to the Texas Medical Center in 1985. TMC officials demolished the historic building in 1986.

The current DeBakey High School for Health Professions is on Shenandoah Street, so the move to the Texas Medical Center is a sensible choice. As part of the curriculum, junior and senior students spend time in local hospitals along health care professionals, so the new location makes it more convenient for its high school students.

But it’s a bittersweet sign of progress.