At Home in Houston’s Wilshire Village Apartments, Back in the Day

Note: Updated below.

So tell me, whatever happened to . . . those Wilshire Village Apartments? Houston photographer Sarah Lipscomb stumbled across a couple of classic interior shots of the then-new apartment complex while poking through old photos a few months ago with her aunt, Johnna Lee Muller.

Writes Lipscomb:

They didn’t have internet in those days but they got to smoke, read magazines and look at globes.

Another view of home entertainment in the early 1940s, Wilshire Village-style:


Lipscomb used these same views to create a pair of then-and-now Wilshire Village portraits on her blog.

Update, 8/5: Lipscomb writes in to add:

Pictured from left to right are three friends of my aunt: Gerrie Robinson, Mildred Duty and Mildred Reddick. They all lived at Wilshire Village together. I think two were room-mates, maybe all three. These ladies were fairly well off and hired a professional photographer to take their picture in the apartment that they loved so much.

Photos: courtesy of Johnna Lee Muller

21 Comment

  • If you look at the “then and now” photos one thing missing back then was air conditioning. But the better apartment complexes were built well and had proper “cross-ventilation” in the apartments and usually had brick exterior walls and “vented” attics. And they were “manageable” during the summer with just fans. Believe it or not.

  • that was pretty much what my unit looked like. it was nice when there were quite a few students there-mostly art and architecture students. it got too run down and dangerous, though. but that cheap rent let me save fo my rhouse down payment.

  • Wilshire Village going, the Park Lane on Hermann Drive long gone, the complexes off Westpark between Buffalo Speedway and Edloe gone, the apartments on Cambridge between OST and McGregor demolished for the not-happening Baylor hospital…aside from the small Lurie Apratments complex on San Jacinto, what from the ventilated 1940’s is left?

  • Hopefully nothing since the people that would pay rent for those apartment wouldn’t pay enough to keep it operational.

  • From kjb434:
    Hopefully nothing since the people that would pay rent for those apartment wouldn’t pay enough to keep it operational.

    Exactly. Now we need to get rid of the ones from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s too.

  • jgriff,

    Get that bulldozer ready. I got my wrecking ball!

  • Are there really kids posting here so young as to have never been in a cross-ventilated house or apartment? It sure was nice to be comfortable courtesy of my home’s windows after Ike without having to pay $50 a day to run a generator.

    Miz Brooke Smith, the apartments at 1537 Castle Court are still full and I understand they have a waiting list. Another similar complex is at Westmoreland & Burlington.

  • I’ve been in lots of cross ventilated homes from the early 1800s growing up in La. The only A/C they used if they had one was a window unit.

    Cross ventilation is nice when you have a breeze. The houses were made so the heat will rise creating a breeze also, but that doesn’t take away that the breeze still leaves you soaking wet from humidity.

    Cross ventilation was an awesome way to deal with a rough climate like ours, but it will never be a good substitute to modern A/C and humidity control.

  • You can’t be a wimp and live in Texas.

  • I had always thought that the Wilshire Village, in fact, was the best example of cross ventilation design.

  • I lived in a Montrose fourplex for several years with all the rooms in a line except the bathroom – living room, dining room, hallway with kitchen to the right, bathroom off the hallway, bedroom & sunroom. Twenty-four windows and 2 window units which I only had to run from mid-June through usually September. Lots of mature trees and a grassy courtyard helped, and this was before we had quite so much pavement. I hear the building is still standing and is in fact being renovated. :)

  • I used the word “manageable” rather than “comfortable” because I don’t think even with cross-ventilation it was really “comfortable” except at night when there was a breeze. Downstairs was better during the day, upstairs was better during the night. Some of the complexes had “townhouse” units which were I suppose the “luxury” apartments of the 1940s.

    Many people discovered what “cross-ventilation” was during the week most had no electricity after Ike. Not really that bad. Certainly better than the $1,000 a month one bedroom boxes with windows on only one or two sides of the apartment.
    “Hopefully nothing since the people that would pay rent for those apartment wouldn’t pay enough to keep it operational.”

    And if they did, the landlord of course would spend the “reserve” on his weekened trips to Las Vegas. Some of the newer complexes aren’t really that “operational” as some would like to believe. The motto of a growing number of landlords in Houston, and in Texas, with regard to requests for maintenance is “If you don’t like it, move.”

  • I rather like slumlords, as long as they stay out of the way and then rent is cheap.

    I’ve had good luck in Montrose over the years(23) with “quality” slumloads.

  • Slumlords, that is.

    But slumloads sounds fitting, sometimes.

  • “Slumload,” as in:

    “Yes, 311, I need to report a slumload of trash and debris behind our apartment building.”

  • Gosh, I guess would get away from debating the merits of antiquated cross ventilation systems vs. central air conditioning (a/c won out by the way). Or whether or not our rent is sufficiently cheap for a slum lord to maintain a viable apartment for this month and into the future. Pause just for a moment, hands off the pocket books for a second, to look at these images and contemplate the inevitable humbling the passage of time brings and how buildings just like people grow old, decay and die. Soon Old Wilshire will be gone and we will have a brand spanking new baby building we can all play with and tickle. Now won’t that be fun!

  • Dimit,

    And in 70 years people will cry their little eyes out because we’ll knock it down again.

  • And in 70 years people will cry their little eyes out because we’ll knock it down again.

    Given the quality of construction we’ve seen in recent years most will probably only last 50 years. And those are the ones that will be maintained. The others will be falling apart in 20 and be torn down in 25.

    You can look at Manhattan to see the folly involved with this obsession of tearing down the old to build the new.

    The most expensive apartments are the ones in the “pre-war” buildings.

  • I agree with the token Log Cabin, maybe we’ll get blessed with something wonderful, shiny, and new! I am praying it’ll turn out as good as Tremont Tower!

  • I am praying it’ll turn out as good as Tremont Tower!

    Even better, maybe. You’ve seen Bayou on the Bend, right?