Uncovering Houston

Houston’s Farmer’s Market on the Bayou

Before the Wortham Theater Center, there was a Farmer’s Market right on the Buffalo Bayou. Well, actually…before Wortham Theater Center, we had a parking lot. But before becoming a parking lot, that location was home to Houston’s second Farmer’s Market.

The Farmer’s Market with Driskell’s Seafood visible

Originally located in Market Square, the Houston Farmer’s Market moved to its Preston Ave location in spring of 1929. Bordered by Buffalo Bayou, Preston, Smith, and Prairie streets, the Farmer’s Market was the shopping hub for fresh produce, meats, and seafood.

We’ve grown accustomed to every neighborhood having its own HEB or Whole Foods these days, but prior to WWII, grocery stores were not really a thing. Farmer’s Markets were the main source of food for every Houstonian who didn’t grow or slaughter it themselves.

The Preston Avenue Farmer’s Market was demolished late-1958 in lieu of a flood control project. This $350,000 (3.5 million today) project included channeling and straightening this section of the bayou in preparation for the extension of Memorial Ave into Texas and Prairie Streets.

Afterwards, the location remained a parking lot until the Wortham Theater Center’s construction in the 1980s and subsequent opening in 1987.