Heiner, Eugene T. (1852–1901)

By: Stephen Fox

Type: Biography

Published: February 1, 1995

Updated: March 1, 2017

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).


  • Architecture
  • Architects

Time Periods:

  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas


  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Stephen Fox, “Heiner, Eugene T.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 25, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/heiner-eugene-t.

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February 1, 1995
March 1, 2017

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