In 1914, native Texan Herman Brown was given eighteen mules in lieu of back wages for construction work done in his hometown of Belton, which he used to enter the construction business on his own. In 1919 his brother-in-law, Dan Root, advanced him money for working capital, and the company was named Brown and Root, Incorporated. In 1922 Herman's younger brother, George Rufus Brown, joined the firm. Dan Root, a prosperous Central Texas cotton farmer, died in 1929. The paving of dirt roads and building of steel bridges for municipal and county governments in Central Texas led the firm to a successful joint bid in 1936 to construct the Marshall Ford Dam (now Mansfield Dam) on the Colorado River. A 1940 contract to construct the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station was the first of their big federal war projects. The brothers formed the Brown Shipbuilding Company in 1942 and constructed more than 350 vessels for the navy. The shipyard had a labor force of 25,000 and won the Army-Navy E and a presidential citation.
After World War II the Brown brothers and other investors purchased the Big and Little Inch pipelines from the government with the winning high bid of $143 million and organized a new company, Texas Eastern Transmission Company, which is now a part of Panhandle Eastern Corporation. Brown and Root was widely known during the 1950s and 1960s for constructing United States air and naval bases (in Spain, France, and Guam) and roads, dams, bridges, petrochemical plants, and large offshore drilling platforms. In 1961 the company won the planning contract for the $200 million Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston.
Herman Brown died on November 15, 1962, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Houston.Brown was a cofounder of the Brown Foundation. He was a member of the board of directors of First City National Bank of Houston, Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation, Southwestern University, Armco Steel Corporation, and Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. He was also active in oil and gas exploration and ranching.
After the death of his brother Herman in 1962, George became president of Brown and Root. Later that year the corporation was sold to the Halliburton Company.
In December 1962 the Halliburton Company of Dallas purchased Brown and Root, which continues to operate under its own name. Halliburton's significant acquisition of Brown and Root of Houston in 1962 gained for the company the sort of subsudiaries that heretofore had been missing: industrial and marine engineering and construction firms. At the time of acquisition Brown and Root had annual revenues of $5.5 billion.
George R. Brown served as a director of the Halliburton Company, Armco Steel Corporation, Louisiana Land and Exploration Company, International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, Trans-World Airlines, Southland Paper Company, First City Bancorporation, and Highland Oil Company. He served on important commissions for presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, and was appointed to commissions for the state of Texas, from the 1930s under Governor James Allred to the 1970s under Governor Dolph Briscoe. He was a well-known friend and visible supporter of Lyndon B. Johnson throughout his political career. He was the recipient of many honors during his lifetime, including Awards from Rice University, Colorado School of Mines, Southwestern University, and the University of Texas. He received several awards in construction and engineering, including the John Fritz Medal in 1977 from the five national engineering societies, and the American Petroleum Institute Gold Medal.
Brown served as chairman of the board of trustees of Rice University for fifteen years of his twenty-five years of service on the board. In 1951 the Brown brothers and their wives established the Brown Foundation, through which they pursued a strong and generous interest in philanthropy. By June 30, 1994, the foundation had granted more than $381 million to charitable institutions, primarily in higher education and the arts. In 1925 Brown married Alice Nelson Pratt of Lometa, Texas, who became well-known for her support for the arts at the local, state, and national levels. They had three children. Brown died on January 22, 1983, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Houston.
Excerpted from "BROWN, GEORGE RUFUS." and "BROWN, HERMAN". The Handbook of Texas Online. <http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/BB/fbrbg.html> [Accessed Mon Jul 14 12:01:07 US/Central 2003 ].