“First Lady of Texas” Ima Hogg
For much of her life, Ima Hogg was affectionately known as the “First Lady of Texas,” owing to her family’s long tradition of public service. Her grandfather helped write the Texas state constitution and her father, James Stephen (“Big Jim”) Hogg, went on to become the Lone Star State’s first native-born governor.
The inheritance Ima received upon her father’s death in 1906 made her financially independent; he had made a small fortune through his work as an attorney, as well as investments in land and oil. Upon her mother’s and father’s death, Ima went on to be the mother figure in her siblings’ lives, taking on the role for most if not all of her life.
Hogg’s philanthropy was centered in Texas with a focus on the arts and raising awareness of mental health. Though her personal artistic pursuits were not to be realized, her teachings and commitment to preserving appreciation of the arts made her a great proponent of its financing in Texas during and after her lifetime.
After returning to Houston spending two years at the National Conservatory of Music in New York and two years in Vienna and Berlin studying piano, Ima helped finance the Houston Symphony Orchestra in 1913, eventually becoming the symphony’s board president. She aided in the public’s exposure to the arts by offering music and art classes in public schools during her tenure as a board member of the Houston Board of Education in 1941.
Ima’s love for her native state of Texas was the impetus for her philanthropy as she and her family were dedicated to the preservation of history and art from her Southern home. But the initiative that received much of Ima Hogg’s attention was the state of mental health in Texas. With a concern for those considered deviants and mentally disturbed, Ima gave money and time to programs that raised awareness and treatment of the mentally ill, by raising the income of clinic workers, and allowing services to minority and low-income groups. Her need to ‘do right by the mentally ill led her to found the Houston Child Guidance Clinic for mentally ill children in 1929. This endeavor was later known to be her most cherished and satisfying philanthropic measure.
The Hogg family donated property and endowments to the preservation of the history, art and institutions in Texas, hoping to leave a legacy of both monetary and social contribution.
Hogg died in 1975 at 93, leaving hundreds of dollars of endowments to education, mental health institutions and art preservation. Her generosity can be seen in many of the buildings and initiatives she passed on in Houston to this day.
Photo: Ima Hogg Photo Collection