While our physical offices are closed until at least April 13 due Austin's COVID-19 "shelter-in-place" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Stephen Fox
Eugene T. Heiner
Portrait, Eugene T. Heiner. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Gonzales County Jail
Former Gonzales County Jail, designed by Heiner. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Cotton Exchange Building
Houston Cotton Exchange Building. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
The Heiners' Headstone
Eugene and Viola Heiner's Headstone. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

HEINER, EUGENE T. (1852–1901). Eugene T. Heiner, architect, was born in New York City on August 20, 1852. He was apprenticed to an architect in Chicago at the age of thirteen and moved to Dallas in 1877 from Terre Haute, Indiana. In 1878 he moved to Houston, where he practiced for the rest of his life. He achieved special prominence as a designer of county courthouses and jails during the 1880s and 1890s. His first major building commission in Texas, won in competition in May 1878, was for the Galveston County Jail. During the next twenty years he designed jails for a dozen Texas counties, including Harris and Tarrant. His design for the Gonzales County Jail featured elaborate Italianate styling in brick. After winning a competition to expand and reface the Galveston County Courthouse in 1881, he designed courthouses in fourteen other counties. His final courthouse, in Hallettsville, Lavaca County (1897), is a three-story limestone structure in the Romanesque Revival style. This building and the Gonzales County Jail are among his buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Among his other public buildings were several at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University) executed between 1887 and 1889, Houston High School (1895), and a building at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville.

Heiner's major commercial buildings included the Leon and H. Blum Building (1879) and the Kauffman and Runge Building (1882), both in Galveston; several in Houston, including the Houston Cotton Exchange and Board of Trade Building (1884), the W. L. Foley Building (1889, now on the National Register), the Sweeney and Coombs Opera House (1890), and the Houston Ice and Brewing Company plant (1893). Heiner designed large private houses in Houston for the banker Charles S. House and the investor Thomas H. Scanlan.

His buildings of the 1870s and 1880s often employed the manneristic renditions of detail typical of American High Victorian architecture. In the late 1880s he occasionally employed the Richardsonian Romanesque style, without abandoning, however, certain strong High Victorian inclinations. Heiner was a founding member of the Texas State Association of Architects, organized in 1886. He was married to Viola Isenhour in Dallas in 1878, and they had four daughters. Heiner died in Houston on April 26, 1901.


Houston Daily Post, April 27, 1901. The Industrial Advantages of Houston, Texas, and Environs (Houston: Akehurst; facsimile rpt., Bryan, Texas: Fuller Printing, 1977). The Industries of Houston (Houston: Elstner, 1887). Willard B. Robinson and Todd Webb, Texas Public Buildings of the Nineteenth Century (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1974). Willard B. Robinson, The People's Architecture: Texas Courthouses, Jails, and Municipal Buildings (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1983).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Stephen Fox, "HEINER, EUGENE T.," accessed April 03, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhe48.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on March 7, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...