Bellows, Warren Sylvanus (1889–1967)

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: September 8, 2016

Warren Sylvanus Bellows, civil engineer, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on August 15, 1889, to Dr. George E. and Stella (Ferris) Bellows. In 1911 he received his degree in civil engineering from the University of Kansas and by 1921 had established a general contracting firm in Houston, the W. S. Bellows Construction Corporation. This firm was responsible for many major constructions in Houston, in addition to several buildings in other Texas cities and on the campuses of the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, Southern Methodist University, and the University of Houston. The Houston buildings include the Auditorium Hotel, one of the first of Bellows's constructions, completed in the 1920s, the Humble Headquarters Building, the American General Insurance Company and Prudential Insurance Regional Headquarters buildings, the First City National Bank, and the Bank of the Southwest. One of the late Houston constructions was the Alley Theatre. Bellows's firm participated in the building of the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, built hotels in Galveston, Fort Worth, and Mobile, Alabama, and constructed the administration buildings on the campuses of the University of Texas and the University of Houston. Probably his most famous construction was the San Jacinto Monument, at 570 feet the tallest monument in the world when it was completed in 1939 (see SAN JACINTO MONUMENT AND MUSEUM).

Bellows was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, president of the Associated General Contractors of America (1946), chairman of the Houston Port Commission from 1950 to 1954, president of the Houston Chamber of Commerce in 1948–49, member of the board of governors of the University of Houston, and member of the Texas Board of Corrections (see PRISON SYSTEM). He was also an industrial member of the War Labor Board during World War II, director of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway, and director of the YMCA. He was a trustee of the M. D. Anderson Foundation, Texas Medical Center, Southwest Research Institute, Southwest Legal Foundation, and Board of Visitors of the University of Texas Cancer Foundation. Bellows was chairman of the Houston Symphony Society and belonged to the Philosophical Society of Texas, the Sons of the Republic of Texas (which in 1967 made him a knight of the Order of San Jacinto), and the Sons of the American Revolution, which awarded him the 1955 Good Citizens Award. His several awards include the Royal Order of Vasa from King Gustav VI of Sweden in 1956, the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Kansas, and the first Annual Meritorious Award of the San Jacinto Chapter of Texas Professional Engineers. On February 3, 1967, Bellows died in Houston; he was survived by his wife, Anna (Williams), and four children.

Joseph L. Clark, Texas Gulf Coast: Its History and Development (4 vols., New York: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1955). Houston Chronicle, February 5, 1967. Houston Post, February 5, 1967. Houston, March 1951.

Time Periods:
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Anonymous, “Bellows, Warren Sylvanus,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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:

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.

September 8, 2016

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: