Portrait of Ima Hogg

Oil heiress, philanthropist, and patron of the arts

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When the Tyndall-Wyoming Oil Company struck oil on land leased from the Hogg family in Brazoria County in the late 1910s, it made Ima Hogg (1882–1975) and her three brothers incredibly wealthy. The family used their wealth to support philanthropic projects related to the arts, education, historic preservation, and mental health.

By the late 1920s, Miss Ima, as she was called most of her life, was involved in a wide range of charitable endeavors and cultural organizations. She founded the Houston Child Guidance Center in 1929 to provide therapy and counseling for youth and their families. With an additional bequest from her brother Will, Ima established the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in 1940. She was elected to the Houston School Board in 1943, where she worked to get equal pay for teachers regardless of sex or race and created a paint-to-music program in public schools.

Miss Ima also began studying and purchasing art and antiques in the 1920s. At a time when most antique collectors concentrated on furniture made in Europe, Hogg saw the value in American-made pieces. She was one of a small group of collectors to first start amassing early American decorative arts from 1620 through 1870, and other collectors soon followed suit. Hogg’s collection also focused on modern European and North American art, collecting pieces from renowned artists like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Her passion and knowledge resulted in a world-class collection. They also brought her numerous cultural heritage awards and national accolades, such as being appointed to the Kennedy Center’s planning committee by President Eisenhower and serving on a panel that sourced historic furniture for the White House.

An avid collector with a love for historic preservation, Ima Hogg helped found the Texas Historical Commission in 1953 and restored several historic Texas buildings. She donated those properties and their contents to the State of Texas and educational institutions; two are now the Varner-Hogg Plantation Historical Site and the Winedale Historical Center. Hogg’s dedication to historic architecture is also apparent in the family’s Bayou Bend estate. She worked with architect John F. Staub to design the estate with classic Southern architectural elements and rooms that showcased her early American decorative arts collections. She donated Bayou Bend and her collection to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 1966.

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Portrait of Ima Hogg Artifact from Houston, TX
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