Apartment Demo: Bettis the Same One?

Late yesterday a reader wrote in expressing concern about the “very cool, worth saving, worth redoing in an intelligent way” 4-plex at 4311 Bettis Dr., just northeast of the stalled-out High Street project on Westheimer. The Bettis Apartments were designed by Robert Wilson in 1955, and are listed as “Most Endangered Moderns” on the Houston Mod website.

A few hours later, 3 properties with the address of 4211 Bettis showed up as demos in the city permit report. You can see them in this morning’s Daily Demolition Report below. The properties are described as the San Felipe Court Apartments . . . didn’t those go down some time ago?

4211 Bettis and 4311 Bettis must be different properties, right? Except HCAD has no entry for a 4211 Bettis. And 4311 Bettis is listed in the rolls as part of the “Trilogy on Bettis Street.”

Swamplot’s tipster provides this tip sheet about the apartments:


Skylights (in one of the bathrooms even so you could apply your make-up by natural light if desired, plus it provided light in an otherwise windowless room)
Brick walls in at least 2 units
Had original aluminum Levolor mini-blinds . . .
Extensive use of sliding glass doors/walls (one unit fronted onto Bettis w/ all glass, another unit was L-shaped with the interior L all glass looking onto a brick-walled courtyard with a very large spreading shade tree in it)
2 private courtyards and 1 shared
Exterior light fixtures had been brought back from South America by the architect. Sadly, those were mostly broken over the years and some were replaced . . .

There was a development sign with a “sale pending” sign on the property . . . maybe attention on Swamplot will inspire someone to buy this property if it becomes available again and rescue a lovely bit of design (which incidentally, is not at all my favorite period, but this place is absolutely great).

Photo: Jason Smith

11 Comment

  • IIRC..these are wedged in there off Mid Lane and might have been added to San Felipe Court. there was a section that looked like it was built separately and later on were bought and the complex expanded into.

  • The other side of the driveway has condos. This complex was not built by Robert Wilson, to my knowledge. As far as I know, they only shared a driveway.

  • My previous comment was unclear. This photo is of 4311 Bettis, which was designed by Robert Wilson. The complex referred to in jayc’s comment is the one I said I didn’t think was built by the same architect. And at least until 2000 or so, was not owned by the same company.

  • These apartments are well designed and well built. They need to be saved for years to come. They are open, full of natural light and condusive to entertaining due to the large open living / family room area. Robert Wilson was simple and yet brillant in his Bettis design.

  • I lived in this building, upstairs from Mr. Wilson, for a couple of years. The pics of the outside do not do them justice. The architecture is quite unique, with lots of natural light. They are a piece of Houston history that should be preserved.

  • Preserve Houston history? Surely you jest!

  • 4211 seems to be in the midst of a preservation/remodel. The building had been vacant for awhile and had been subjected to graffiti, etc. Now there is work going on inside. The kitchens and baths have been gutted.

  • Marc, I’m curious if you are referring to the building in the photo (4311) or whatever is at 4211.

  • Sorry, I think I typed the wrong address. The building pictured that is architecturally-significant is being remodeled after a period of neglect. The demo permits must be for another site.

  • Marc, I am glad to hear 4311 Bettis is being remodeled, not demolished. How do you know of this?

  • I stopped by the Bettis apartments (4311) to see what work has been done. New bathroom vanity ready to be installed (although the length of the counter & double sink made me wonder where the heck they could fit it). Glad to see it’s being remodeled. Although I personally do not care for the outside lighting, scrollwork railings, and other new details, at least the building is still standing and going to have a future. Hoping to drive by when someone is there working so I can get a look at the insides.