Article originally published in Polish American Journal
This month marks the 180th anniversary of the start of the Texas Revolution. Although fought 20 years before the settlement of Panna Maria, there were a number of Poles who gave their lives for the Texas cause. John Kornicky, Francis and Adolph Petrussewicz, and Joseph Schrusnecki were all killed at Goliad, and Felix Wardzinski saw action at the Battle of San Jacinto. With such a deep legacy in the Lone Star State it should come as no surprise that Houston once had its own Polish Home.
The roots of Houston’s Polish Home began in 1891 with the formation of the Polish Social Club. This organization of eight Polish Americans soon joined the Polish National Alliance and became the Kosciuszko Lodge 165. The lodge held its meetings at members’ homes and functions at rented halls. As it grew, so too did the greater Polish American community of Houston. In 1918, Dr. Stefan Wagner Mieczkowski, a real estate developer, and the Kazmierowski family of builders began campaigning to create a “Polski Dom” for the city. The community was able to raise and borrow a total of $1,200 for the venture. On June 2, 1918, the two-story wooden structure at the corner of White Oak Drive and Studewood Street was formally opened. One of the unique features of the first Polish Home was that much of the first floor was left open to be used as a stable for horses and a garage for carriages and later cars.
With a building dedicated to the Polish people, the Kosciuszko Lodge used the Home for its meetings and civic events. Soon other groups were formed, including the Polonia Society and the Polish Women’s Group and the Home became a bustling center of Polish activity. These groups worked together to put on May Fests, Easter parties, and Christmas dinners. In April of 1925, the three organizations drafted a constitution for the Polish Home and a framework for everyone to live by. To help with the cause, the Polonia Society donated two lots of land to the Home. This constitution helped steer the Home through the Depression and the Second World War. In 1950, the “Polski Dom” was incorporated and legally became the Polish Home, Inc.
Shortly after celebrating the Millennium of Polish Christianity, the Home purchased five acres on Cooper Road in north Houston with plans for a new building. Club member Bruno J. Maciejeski prepared the plans for a 16,200 square foot facility with two dance floors, three meeting rooms, a bar, a children’s room, a full kitchen, club rooms, offices, and more. On July 28, 1974 the new Polish Home was opened with a grand celebration including a Polish Mass, proclamations read from Governor Briscoe and Mayor Hofheinz, and a banquet of Polish food and Texas BBQ.
After the opening, the Home hosted Friday night dances, visiting dignitaries, and scores of parties. But as more families assimilated and social organizations became less important in people’s lives, the Home saw a decline in membership. By the mid 2000s, it became clear to the board that they could no longer sustain the large facility. A large party was held for the 80th anniversary of the Home but shortly thereafter the Polish Home was closed and the building was put up for sale. It sold on February 26, 2007 to a Pentecostal congregation, ending a chapter of Polish culture in the Bayou City.