The Houston Chronicle was founded in 1901 by former Houston Post reporter and editor Marcellus E. Foster (1870-1942), an 1890 graduate of Sam Houston Normal Institute. The Chronicle was bankrolled in part by the return on Foster's investment in the Spindletop oil field, which he had been sent to Beaumont to cover for the Post. Within a few years after founding the Chronicle, Foster desired a splashy new headquarters for the paper directly across the street from the Post's offices.
The Chronicle Building was one of a trio of 10-story downtown buildings financed by Jesse H. Jones between 1908 and 1910. The others were the 200-room Bristol Hotel and a new headquarters for the Texas Company (Texaco). Prior to this construction boom, the tallest building in Houston had been the 6-story Binz Building, in which Jones had rented an office within 24 hours of his 1898 arrival.
As collateral for the 1908 construction, Foster offered Jones a 50% stake in the newspaper with the option to purchase the rest within 20 years. In 1926, Jones bought out Foster's remaining interest, and he wielded his resultant influence as publisher of the most widely circulated newspaper in East Texas until his death.
The Chronicle's headquarters remained at 801 Texas for over a century. The building underwent periodic renovation and expansion, particularly in the early 1970s, when a new glass-and-granite facade allowed it to fully absorb the other buildings within the block bound by Texas, Travis, Milam, and Prairie. As of early 2015, the building was connected to Houston's downtown tunnel network, and an adjacent parking garage was also considered part of the property.
The Joneses' legacy foundation, Houston Endowment, Inc., sold the Chronicle to the Hearst Corporation in 1987. Eight years later, the Hearst Corporation also acquired the Post's assets, including its former headquarters at I-610 and US-59/I-69.
In the early 2000s, the Chronicle's downtown printing presses were decommissioned, and that function was transferred to the former Post headquarters. In 2014, Hearst announced plans to move all Houston Chronicle Media Group operations (minus a small cadre of downtown-based reporters) to the former Post site, a process that was expected to take about 18 months to complete. Hearst later officially listed the Chronicle Building for sale in 2015. Local real estate professionals reportedly expected that a new owner would likely demolish the existing building due to its outdated technology, small stature, and odd configuration.