The Humble Oil Gas Plant opened just west of Katy in 1942. It was an important source for fuel products during WWII and revenue from the plant established the Katy ISD and workers doubled the population of Katy in just a few years. For those who lived at the plant, the Mess Hall was an integral part of daily life while the plant was in full operation. It was donated to the Katy Heritage Society by St. Paul's Episcopal Church in 2005.
Initial plans were to restore the Mess Hall as a museum documenting the important history of the Humble Gas Plant. Initial repairs were made and for several years the Society has studied the feasibility of various uses for the building. As plans progressed we evaluated the opportunities to use the building not just to display Humble artifacts and memorabilia, but to also make once again a place to gather for a meal. The project is complex - to accurately restore the building for use a as a museum and maintain it historical character while complying with current building and Harris County health codes so we can use the kitchen for special events. While we made our plans, we received donations to help with the project from The Strake Foundation, The Houston Endowment and Humble Oil Alumni.
We developed a plan and in November, took it to the City’s Hotel and Convention Board for approval for hotel tax (HOT) funding to complete the project. That process took two meetings and a conference with the office of the State Comptroller before that board voted unanimously to approve this project. It is important to note that these are hotel taxes collected by the state and disbursed to cities to encourage projects like this that will generate more tax funds. The project was taken to City Council for approval in December but failed for lack of a motion. We will amend our request and start the process again in January.
We understand that some citizens are concerned that we plan to open a restaurant that will compete with local businesses. This is not our intention, we hope to create another great venue that will brings folks to Katy, who will then shop and dine at our existing local shops and restaurants. We intend to use the building to serve food for visitors at our free concerts at the park, snacks and drinks for visitors to the park at all other times, to serve Breakfast with Santa and special events for Easter and July 4. The principal purpose of the building must remain that of a museum. We will always allow persons who are not eating to visit the museum with room to safely move around and view exhibits. We think this will be a great addition to Katy Heritage Park.
We anticipate receipt of more Humble Oil and Katy Gas Plant memorabilia and will be making sponsorships available for some of the furnishings. Please contact us if you have items to donate or would like more information.