Art Deco Slaughter on Harrisburg: Is Metro Taking To the Cleaners?

This timely building at 4819 Harrisburg in Eastwood, built in 1935 for the Sterling Laundry & Cleaning Co., showed up in yesterday’s Daily Demolition Report. The architect was Sol R. Slaughter, who also designed a home on the bayou in Idylwood the same year.

The building faces Metro’s new East End Corridor light-rail line. Rice University project manager Spencer Howard writes in with a few details, but isn’t exactly sure what’s going on:

The building was renovated as an artist live/work/gallery just a few years ago.

METRO pledged to save the facade of the building with the clock on it, across from Eastwood Park. They preferred to have someone else buy it and move it, but if that didn’t happen, they were going to move it back on the property and reattach it behind the new setback. Yesterday they sent out the demolition list for next Monday and it was on it. The neighborhood has alerted their gov’t reps.

Another view:


For all of the 1990s, the laundry building was the home and studio of Houston artist William Steen, who also worked as a framer for the Menil Collection. Beginning in 1998, Steen allowed a group of neighborhood artists to paint an ever-changing mural on the building’s 100-foot-long southish wall, facing Stiles St.

In the summer of 2001, Steen got into a tiff with the Houston Police Department after an anti-graffiti task force whitewashed the wall while he was away — without his permission. Steen moved to New York the following year, and died at the end of last year, of pancreatic cancer.

Photos: Steve Parker (top); Patrick Feller (bottom; license)

11 Comment

  • METRO not telling the truth? The next thing we’ll find out it’s hot and humid Houston.

    METRO has been know to lie to it’s constituents constantly. They really don’t care since they aren’t elected officials. They also have the power to condemn near light rail station without considering protest or the property owners (and you can’t take legal action against them for it either!).

  • Aww. That’s a cutie pie, one of my favorite little-known deco gems.

  • oh no! they should save it.

  • Come on METRO. The East End supports your light rail system and wants to help you make it the best transit system possible. But geez luweez, work with us! We’re proud of our heritage and the unique history of the community, and there’s no reason that you have to bulldoze over all of it just to save a few bucks. And most importantly, you’ve got to stop sharing the bad news with us this way. First, we learned that you weren’t taking the rail to the Magnolia Transit Center — not at some meeting on routing decisions, but on a poster showing the proposed station art. When someone asked why there was no station art for the transit center — whoops! Forgot to tell you. We’re not going there anymore. And now, you promise to save our historic architecture, but when you change your mind, do you tell us directly and give us a fighting chance? Hell no! You let us find out on our own from a demolition report, mere days before the deal is sealed!!! You might want to change your tactics a little if you want to be able to count on our support for future transit expansions!!!

  • Amazing the amount of revisionist history or flat-out dishonesty going on here. And it’s not coming from Metro’s side.

    I recall Metro telling the community over a year ago that the building would be demolished. The offer was to saw-cut the facade and give to someone who could use it toward preservation. No takers…

  • If you go to any of the METRO meetings, they’ve never said they would protect historic architecture. Go to some of the neighborhood offices and see if you can get any information out of them.

  • Well supposedly they say there will be no condemnation along Richmond. Anyone familiar with Richmond along the proposed route of course is wondering where exactly the train will be. There really is no room. Unless of course they widen Richmond. Which will involve quite a bit of condemnation.

    As for preservation, no one else cares about preservation so why should Metro?

  • Still… Metro, the business, should have complete transparency because of their position as a community resource.

    See, if Metro doesn’t care about “The Community (of Riders)” that would be wrong, right?

  • Just another example of how Metro seems to keep deceiving the East End Community.

  • Who said there would be no condemnation on Richmond? I seem to recall an article in the HoPress over a year talking about how the Proletariat was going to go. They buried the lede, but still.

  • METRO dismantled the clock face part of the building, it’s being stored by the Houston Conservation Commission. ( If I incorrectly named the organization I apologize) They are supposed to reassemble it in Lockwood Park as a entry way to the park at a later time.