06/12/17 11:15am

HOUSTON’S PREMIER FLOATING TOURIST ATTRACTION SHUT DOWN AGAIN AFTER MORE LEAKS A 6-by-8-in. hole 15 inches below the water line discovered yesterday on the starboard side of the Battleship Texas caused the San Jacinto Battleground tourist attraction to tilt a “pretty serious” 6 degrees overnight, KPRC’s Cathy Hernandez reports this morning. The battleship — which was built long after the Battle of San Jacinto, but is a veteran of 2 world wars and a whole lot of 21st Century rust — has now been closed to the public until further notice. At last report, approximately 2,000 gallons of water per minute had been pumped out of the ship for more than 15 hours. Funds originally allocated to move the retired sea vessel to a dry berth were used instead to repair previous leaks. [Click2Houston; Texas Parks & Wildlife; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Coast Guard News [license]  

07/13/16 4:00pm

Blondie's Bar, 1026 S. 8th St., La Porte, TX 77571

After more than 40 on-and-off years under its current name, and 37 years since housewife-turned-electrician Margaret Lindsay got involved with the place, Blondie’s on the corner of S. 8th St. and Fairmont Pkwy. off SH 146, is once again listed for sale. A previous Houston Press article details Lindsay’s account of some of the bar’s fraught history since 1980 — from the banned and reinstated lingerie shows, complex permitting and loan tangles, and 11th-hour financial saviors and sugar daddies, to the alleged police harassment and an eventual lawsuit filed against the city of La Porte.

The suit was dismissed in 1999, as the named city official’s had immunity to Lindsay’s allegations that they had conspired to run her out of town; 17 years later, the bar still stands along the channelized banks of Little Cedar Bayou, between 2 Wells Fargo buildings and across Fairmont from the McDonald’s and the La Porte Post Office. LoopNet lists the asking price as $1 million — kitchen equipment, alarm system, and all. Here are a few more of the listing shots, which show the bar still loosely decked out for Christmas:


Looking Like a Million Bucks
12/07/15 11:30am

Proposed Gilley's, SH 146, La Porte, TX Urban cowboys, hold your horses: A Gilley’s rebirth is in the works near the Ship Channel, but it will be neither as rootin’ nor as tootin’ as its world-famous Pasadena ancestor. Last month La Porte’s city council approved a proposed general plan for the La Porte Town Center, a $55-million mixed-residential-and-retail-and-sports-and-entertainment district anchored by a Mickey Gilley’s Family Entertainment Center.

Modern-day Wes Hightowers would best look elsewhere to shoot mezcal and brawl — a floorplan for the dancehall shows that the 50,000-sq.-ft. facility is geared towards more wholesome pastimes, offering “Branston-type stage performances”, roller skating, laser tag, billiards, video games, boutique bowling, bumper cars, a Western duds shop and a cafe. The inevitable mechanical bull is located by the entrance to the restrooms:


East Side Town Center
04/29/15 11:30am




It’s a grand view of Upper Galveston Bay from a lattice-wrapped century-old Victorian home in Grandview. The bayfront stretch of Morgan’s Point in La Porte was an early 20th Century enclave of upper-crust summer residences. The 1896 home sits near the water end of the lot, which is nearly an acre; 1886 quarters anchor the gated entry off the lone roadway serving a string of shoreline-hugging properties, which includes the 1928 Ross Sterling mansion and its mega-sized, treeless lot. This property, however, has plenty of plantings. County tax records indicate the spread has been in the same family since at least the early (19)80s. The asking price for the listing, which went up earlier this month, is $1.2 million. 


Lattice Wrap
03/04/15 3:00pm



This 2004 custom home with broad shoulders settles into 3 acres of land south of Spencer Hwy. in La Porte. It’s a Mediterraneanish spread that seems to have a thing for columns, posts, and pillars. A year ago, it debuted on the market at $749K, dropping slightly to $745K in May 2014 and $739K in February 2015. A week ago, a relisting by the same agent kept that final price point.


02/18/14 2:45pm



“Little Castle” or “Tree House”? This coastal property forged of sticks and stones in Shoreacres is known by either name; it’s a 1932-built landmark near the Houston Yacht Club in La Porte. Thick, rough cut rocks clad much of the exterior, which comes with a chimney-hugging turret (top). Near its breeze-facing entry off a patio, 4 ‘faux bois’ pine trees — one of which looks a bit squirrely (above) — lend their support.


Rocky and Squirrely
12/02/13 3:00pm



In the Morgan’s Point Historic District, a 1997-vintage custom home’s water-view windows and width-of-house veranda (visible through the window in the top photo) provide vantage points for some relaxing Upper Galveston Bay surveillance. The waterway is likely to be full of passing activity; the Barbour’s Cut shipping terminal is nearby. The bayside property, designed by Bruce Conaway and built by John Wycoff & Associates, includes an updated 1900 carriage house, which sits closer to the street on this deep lot with a 103-ft.-long private beach and a 400-ft.-long shared pier.


08/17/12 2:44pm

Over in La Porte, a Bayside Terrace home has — a bay-side terrace. The waterfront property has a panoramic view of Upper Galveston Bay and its existing spill islands and wildlife refuge. And that vista just dodged a soggy bullet: On Wednesday the Port of Commission nixed a plan that would have placed a 475-acre island of sludge in the bay in the middle of it, built from material dug up from dredging at the Bayport Container Terminal in neighboring Shoreacres, near the Houston Yacht Club. (The dredging will go ahead, but the material go onto berms at Atkinson Island instead.)


06/25/12 2:46pm

“It was very eerie to see the stern deck of the ship so close to the water,” writes Swamplot reader J.W. Lodge IV, who visited the leaking Battleship Texas by boat yesterday, and who notes that a news story from Friday linked to in this morning’s Headlines post — which claimed that the dual-world-war veteran parked by the San Jacinto Monument had been repaired and reopened — seemed a bit off. “As far as I can tell they’ve got a long way to go with the pumps,” he reports. The ship was reopened for tours on Saturday, but beginning that evening more problems developed. As of this morning, about 1,500 gallons of ship-channel water were pouring in each minute, from 2 separate areas of new leaks in the vessel’s rear port side. Also developing in the water around the ship: an oil sheen.

Photo from Sunday: J.W. Lodge IV

10/25/11 2:05pm

The Sylvan Beach Pavilion, a dancehall and conference hall on Harris County’s only public beach — with a 10,000-sq.-ft. glass-walled ballroom overlooking Galveston Bay — has been boarded up since its pummeling by Hurricane Ike in 2008. But thanks to a $3.6 million grant awarded last fall by the state Dept. of Rural Affairs, the modern building at Sylvan Beach Park is now headed for restoration to its original 1956 glory (above) — with a few tweaks directed by the architects at Kirksey to gussy it up for weddings, quinceañeras, local meetings, retirement parties, and other La Porte events. Construction is scheduled to start early next year and take 9 months.


08/23/10 6:00pm

BATTLEFIELD RECOVERY A group of Texas history buffs called the Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground has spent $625K to buy 19 mostly overgrown acres near the San Jacinto Monument — 8 of them under water — from the estate of noted car collector and attorney John O’Quinn. The group intends to restore the tidal marsh, place historical markers, and add 1830s-approprate foliage such as cypress and pine to the property on Battleground Rd. just southwest of the Lynchburg Ferry, on the south bank of Buffalo Bayou. The goal: a landscape that evokes the good ol’ days of the Texas Revolution, long before the local ground started sinking. More detailed plans for the redevelopment are still under discussion, but the organization hopes to raise $325K for the project and wants to begin improvements in time for the 175th anniversary of the Texian assault in 2011. A few decades after it was crossed by battling Mexican and Texian armies, the land held a Confederate armory, barracks and shipyard. More recently, other potential bidders for the property were interested in using it for an industrial complex or a school for energy and maritime workers. [Houston Chronicle; project details]