Scope and Contents
The collection totals 87 document boxes and concentrates mainly on Harris Masterson, III's business and philanthropic interests. Dates range from 1892- 1980, bulk 1950-1979, and formats include correspondence, photographs, business and legal documents. Personal and family data are also chronicled. Highlights include Masterson's collecting interest in Texana and construction information on the Masterson house, Rienzi.
Permission to publish materials from the Harris Masterson, III papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.
Harris Masterson, III, native Houstonian and well-known philanthropist, was born July 9, 1914 to Libbie Mary Johnston and Neill Turner Masterson. He attended San Jacinto High School, the New Mexico Military Institute, and Rice Institute during the 1930s and later returned to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1955. Masterson was an intelligence officer during World War II and served as an instructor during the Korean Conflict. In 1951 he married the former Carroll Sterling Cowan. Among Masterson's better-known business interests were Westmoreland Importers, an antique and interior design studio, and "Houston Presents," which brought touring theatrical and orchestral groups to Houston. Harris Masterson served as board chairman or president of all major Houston arts organizations, and among his philanthropic interests were Houston area hospitals, charitable and cultural organizations including Houston Grand Opera, Wortham Center, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony, Society for the Performing Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Alley Theater, and several preservation societies. His honors include the 1996 Friends of Fondren Honoree [Rice University], and, along with his wife, the National Medal of Arts recipient , and Cultural Leader of the Year . Masterson died on April 7, 1997 in Houston.