An Old Sixth Ward House To Take Home with You

A reader sends in this photo from the corner of Union and Henderson Sts. in the Old Sixth Ward, one block off Washington Ave. And comments:

Anyone in the market for a FREE house? This caught my eye on my way home [yesterday] and made me laugh out loud. I knew it was a rough sellers market but wow – FREE?

Sorry about the ghost images in the picture – I got so excited about a FREE house that I forgot to roll down the car window before snapping the shot!

The home dates to 1890, and was sold in October of last year. This past April, the city historical commission denied the owner’s request for a “certificate of appropriateness” to tear it down.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

27 Comment

  • Why anyone would want to preserve a piece of crap like this is beyond me. Government run amok. This dump is on prime dirt that practically fronts on Washington Ave. They should tear this thing down and everything else on the block. It’s a tremendous redevelopment opportunity.

    Maybe this is what people were referring to when they printed up those “Keep Houston Ugly” stickers that were featured on Swamplot a few days ago.

  • Are you serious or just trying to stir the pot, Bernard? Oh well, here goes:

    The house obviously could use some scraping and paint, and restoration to antique windows. Likely it wouldn’t hurt to pop up the bottom 4 feet of siding and nailgun on some treated 2/4s to reinforce the structure- a few weekends of project time there. Likely the home could be leveled and cleaned up inside.

    But once that were done, you’d have a solid, usable structure that gives everyone a sense of the world that was in that spot in 1890. There are plenty of places in this city to throw up beige boxes or tacky yuppie bars. 30 years, 100 years, 200 years from now this city will be a more interesting place with at least one neigbborhood where the past is evident, than the packed-in ghetto it’s going to be if 100% of the urban areas are replaced with moldy, uninspired and uninspiring half-assedly built townhomes.

    But what the hell, Houston is already pretty much known for it’s lowest-common-denominator building style all over the city.. why not dumb down what’s interesting about the inner city too and complete the process.

  • Bernard –

    Go fuck yourself. The people that live in the OSW have turned around houses a lot worse then this that are currently worth a lot more then the townhomes put up in the west end and 1st ward. Yeah, you get those d-bag clubs like Pandora and The Drake on the east end of washington, but those will be gone like a flash in the pan while houses like this remain and endure.

    Hey, big man, if you are so interested in prime dirt, why don’t you pony 660k and really go to town…

  • Prime real estate or not, the area is one of the few historical districts in the city. The question that arises is if the house should be allowed to be moved or not.

    I applaud the new owners for allowing a reprieve from the bulldozer. Too many of these houses meet their demise everyday. Many of these homes are still very good, strong buildings that can in fact be moved or have features that can be salvaged to repair other historical homes…makes sense economically and saves the landfills a little.

    Believe it or not, I would bet houses like it will outlast the construction of the houses being built in that area destined to replace them.

  • Houses are no longer built to last the life of their mortgage. Old Sixth Ward houses have lasted the life of MANY mortgages.

  • Houses are no longer built to last the life of their mortgage. Old Sixth Ward houses have lasted the life of MANY mortgages.

    Quite a few houses around the city have and yet are torn down every day. Except in Sixth Ward. Some are wondering who pulled what string to pull that off. And why it only applies to Sixth Ward. Did you all sell your soul to the devil or just sleep with him?

  • Bernard, you should really take it to the suburbs. Tear down some prairie.

    OSW doesn’t need further gentrification (or, “redevelopment”, as you put it), it just needs a little fixing up.

  • Thanks nate! I’ve been thinking that for weeks!

  • So, can the OSW historical district keep this structure from being moved away?

    Seems that relocating it, per the HO’s wishes, all the history would be lost.

  • Patrick, I don’t see you volunteering a “few weekends” for that dump.

  • The house is outside the protected boundary, and is subject to the 90 day rule. The owner would much prefer the house moved rather than torn down. House is very solid and doesn’t need any more work than any of the other neighborhood houses did that are now showplaces. For the commenter who asked how OSW got protected status and “who did it sleep with”, when you’ve spent decades and put in the amount of sacrifice, time, advocacy, and multiple documented shows of support, then you can whine. The neighborhood put in years and years of effort and perserverance to become protected.

  • For the commenter who asked how OSW got protected status and “who did it sleep with”, when you’ve spent decades and put in the amount of sacrifice, time, advocacy, and multiple documented shows of support, then you can whine.

    They spent decades trying to protect Freedmans Town/Fourth Ward and had just as many if not more “multiple documented shows of support” as Old Sixth Ward did and yet the city went in and demolished all these far more historical structures in Fourth Ward while making sure nothing in Old Sixth Ward could or would be demolished whether, it seems, they were historical or not.

    Leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, you know?

  • re: Matt’s comments. The OSW folks worked it like crazy and they had the patience of Job. (or Gob, for Arrested Developement fans, pun unintentional.) In the end there was some luck and the fact that OSW had more people with more resources. Ashby High Rise would have been built a long time ago in most neighborhoods.
    As Cindy Lauper once sang “Money, money changes everything.”

  • You are inacurrate in some of your comment. I think it’s a crying shame what’s happened to Freedman’s Town, but your comment sounds like you think the city initiated protection of OSW (the oldest intact neighborhood in Houston), which it absolutely did not. The neighborhood had smart leadership, and pushed past years and years of resistance on the part of the city. OSW has only been protected since Aug 2007, very recent. Council Member Adrian Garcia (now sheriff) was a huge help,without whom perhaps it would still be unprotected. The neighborhood never took no as the final answer, and the effort was always internal-neighborhood/resident driven. Btw, non-contributing structures inside the boundary can still be demolished.

  • It is reprenhensible of what happened to Fourth Ward, but we need to remind ourselves that it was heavily decimated during Mayor Bob Lanier’s tenure. Mr Lanier has made it clear that he had big plans to redevelop Fourth Ward regardless of its residents’ effort to preserve it. While Old Sixth Ward lost quite a bit of its historic homes during Lanier’s term, its residents finally found a sympathetic mayor in Bill White and a city council who was willing to work with them.

  • Bill White sympathetic? You must be joking. Ask anyone who has been on the front lines of the fight.
    White simply isn’t aggressive and vocal in his desire to let developers run the city. He prefers to let things get lost in the morass of Planning and Development or he simply does not allow things onto the council’s agenda, as it is his to control.
    Saying he is better than Bob Lanier may be true, but that is setting a very low bar.

  • you guys are nuts. the old fourth ward was full of crack house, whores, and gang bangers. when i moved to Post Midtown in early 2001, I walked through the Fourth Ward one night to get to the Satelite Lounge on Washington–I challenge any of you preservationists to do the same. It is a third of a mile walk to W Dallas from Gray, and I was approached twice for drugs and once for prostitution.

    The house in this post and others like it in the sixth ward are eye sores and dangerous for the community. if you like stepping on needles, then you live on that block. that house is a piece of garbage and needs to go (frankly, there are still some in the Fourth Ward that need to go).

    growing up in houston, you knew if you were in a “ward” then you were in trouble and needed to find the quickest way out. until the remaining houses like this are torn down, you will still have that problem.

  • I’m not a big fan of “beige suburban boxes” but I can’t see how anyone can honestly say we need to preserve many of these “historical” homes. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s good.

  • Shows that you know little about them. 20 years ago many OSW houses looked like this, and are nearly all now rehabbed and gorgeous. Check out and go to the teardowns area, then take a drive through the osw.

  • Old doesn’t mean Bad either. I have seen some beautiful renovations.

    The reason builders want new is simple – there’s greater profit in cookie cutter home that are gigantic.

    Preservation does not mean keep them all or bulldoze them all, but the rest of the western world seems to see some value in retaining historic areas. Do we go to Boston to hang at the McDonalds? Do Americans travel to Europe tromp through modern office buildings or take tours of the suburbs?

    I don’t demand that ugly, poorly built suburban crap be torn down. So why are some people so adamant that neightborhoods where they don’t even live be bulldozed? What is so threatening about the people who actually live there having a say?

  • if you like stepping on needles, then you live on that block. that house is a piece of garbage and needs to go (frankly, there are still some in the Fourth Ward that need to go).

    And of course the “garbage” that lives in them need to go as well. One reason why the drug dealers and whores are still around in Fourth Ward is they found a new clientele in the “upscale” crowd that moved in when the “downscale” crowd was forced out. So much for “revitalization” which was really just “gentrification” and based on race more than anything else and the older stable tenants were forced out and drug dealers and whores remained. Many of whom don’t even live in Fourth Ward. They just come to do business. And business from what I hear is booming.

    The real difference between Old Sixth Ward and Fourth Ward is the difference between white and black.

  • I can’t speak of what’s true for the Fourth Ward, but I know OSW well. OSW’s history is absolutely multi-cultural, and its residents are currently mostly Anglo or Hispanic. What sets OSW apart from other areas in regard to what’s happened to it (or not happened to it) is what I’ve explained in comments above. The people/residents who brought this historic district back to life–most still live here and are invested both financially and emotionally in its wellbeing and continued existence. Drug dealing is almost completely gone here, and prostitution certainly is. Might have been true 20 years ago, but no longer.

  • I find it disheartening that many people in the housing business are not interested in preserving ANY small enclaves of older buildings. Areas like OSW add to our city. Allowing them to exist still leaves plenty of real estate to build modern structures and make a shitload of money. And it is really about money, right?

  • My real point is that the protections that are now in place in Old Sixth Ward should have been put in place for the entire city. And they were not. And that is what I don’t like. It smacks of the same “self-interest” we are seeing in Southampton and Boulevard Oaks. Life may not be fair. But historic preservation and associated ordinances should be. And they should be across the board.

  • Matt, I don’t think you would get any argument from preservationists in this city that the “protected” should apply to all of the designated historic districts. But don’t badmouth OSW for its efforts. It was a very long, very uphill volunteer effort across decades that culminated in OSW’s protected status. If you want to place blame, blame city leaders for not doing for Houston what’s been done for almost anywhere else–protecting designated historic districts.

  • Shows that you know little about them. 20 years ago many OSW houses looked like this, and are nearly all now rehabbed and gorgeous.
    You must be kidding with that “nearly all” comment; OSW is a dump. There are relatively few gorgeous homes there than Heights and Montrose.
    I dislike cookie-cutter townhomes as much as anyone but the OSW has it’s thumb up it’s ass. It’s 50% crap teardowns, 25% new houses that don’t fit (so neighborhood LONG AGO lost it’s charm), 15% vacant lots, and 10% nice new (like those brick loft townhomes on corner of Lubbock and Henderson) or restored. Bottomline: OSW is WAY overrated and full of itself. No way are those teardowns worth any money, it’s all “lot value”, that’s why house Is offered for FREE.
    Good luck OSW, you could’ve enacted deed restictions and zoning (like St George Place in Galleria) and gotten single family new appopriate-sized and feel homes and turned into a great diverse neighborhod in 5 years; instead you are stuck with idiots who waste more money rehabbing a junk house (because they now HAVE to) than they can ever sell them for. Will be 30 years before half those homes or empty lots get rehabbed (poor owners can’t even give away to move forward); no one wants to buy lots there. OSW is too ignorant to know it went backwards not forwards.
    I’m not pro teardown, but I’m also not drunk on preservation-is-never-wrong mentality either.

  • This house was torn yesterday…very sad. They large house that is next to it was still there this morning. We will see if its there when I go home today. There is another small house on the same lot that was torn down about a week and a half ago.
    Wow…I was unaware of the hatred towards the OSW. I live in the OSW in an 1885 shotgun that is my dream house.