Bell and Bird
Houston's most storied antiques show brings all sorts of interesting pieces.
Olivier Fleury Inc.
For half a century, the Theta Charity Antiques Show has defined Houston’s fall cultural season. Improbably, the venerable show — considered among the top three in America — came about in 1952 as a response to its Kappa Alpha Theta Houston Alumnae chapter’s desire to raise funds to give back to the community beyond what the Thetas were doing at the time: peddling metal polish, magazines subscriptions and chances on a mink stole.
An article in American Home magazine about a Manhattan church’s antique show and bazaar served as inspiration and model. Founding duo Mary Frances Bowles Couper and Mary Margaret Perry McDonald mobilized fellow Thetas for the first show, chaired by Virginia Shilstone, at the Shamrock Hilton in the hotel’s Bluebonnet and Azalea rooms. The $1 admission fee yielded $1,800 for charity, whose beneficiaries included the Houston-based Foster Parent Plan and Center for Hearing and Speech. The show gradually grew to 50 dealers, returning year after year with finds for discerning clients such as first lady of American decorative arts, Miss Ima Hogg. Other notables who have shopped Theta and/or served as guest speakers include White House curator Clement Conger, museum man Thomas Hoving ( when he was editor of Connoisseur Magazine), designers Bunny Williams and Mark Hampton, Architectural Digest’s Paige Rense, and from across the pond, Lady Jane Spencer-Churchill and Viscount David Linley.
Six decades after its founding and $6.7 million later, this fall’s Theta Show moves to a new venue — Bayou City Event Center (9401 Knight Road) — and unfurls over four days, November 12 through November 15, with the Preview Party (Thursday, November 12) launching the splendid antique convergence. New this year is a Designers Walks, with guided tours Friday and Saturday, led by Houston decorators Lindsey Herod, Jane Osborne, Ben Johnston, Bob Wakefield, Courtnay Tartt Elias and Bill Stubbs. Pedigreed speakers include Robert Edsel of The Monuments Men, monogram expert/author Cynthia Brumback, Metropolitan Museum of Art Leonard A. Lauder curator of modern art Rebecca Rabinow, and maven of the Gilded Age Bettie Bearden Pardee.
The 2015 Show gives back to seven community nonprofits, joined by its four permanent beneficiaries Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, Child Advocates, Texas Children’s Cancer Center and Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation leadership and scholarship programs. For further information and tickets, click here.