11/07/16 5:00pm

Trains over Texas setup at HMNS

A through-the-curtains peek at at the reassembly of about 2,500 sq. ft. of miniaturized Texas landscape (made by T W Trainworx for the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s soon-to-open model train exhibit) comes from a reader who snuck a glance on Thursday. The exhibit, which should open some time after the 2nd week of installation wraps up, looks like it’ll include hand-carved models of some of Texas’s less flat geographies, including the Balcones Escarpment and Texas’s own pretty darn grand canyon, Palo Duro. The official details on opening and closing dates aren’t out yet, but a behind-the-scenes event description on the museum’s website notes that the exhibit will also show off some more familiar Gulf Coast features like “oil country salt domes, prairies and wetlands.” Natural stone landmarks, like Enchanted Rock, and unnatural stone monuments, like the state capitol, will also be part of the display.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Tiny State Tour
10/14/16 5:00pm

Art Colony Phase 2, 5313 Chenevert St., Museum District, Houston, 77004

Like the looks of this light-display-slash-townhouse-trio at Prospect and Chenevert streets on the Almeda side of the Museum District? All 3 of the homes hit the market yesterday for between $925,000 and $975,000 (that’s 5313 Chenevert, 1805 Prospect, and 1807 Prospect, from left to right). Developer Dreamscape Modern posted the (rendered) view above to its website for Phase 2 of its The Art Colony townhouse development, which includes a see-through panel to catch shifting colored light projected onto the house after dark.

The light displays shown in the rendering and in the video above are a bit more intricate than the particular pattern shown in the new listing photos — though the illuminated driveway strips appear to be the same shade of aqua, amid the xeriscaping in place of the grass lawns originally depicted:

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Lighting Up in the Museum District
08/24/16 10:30am

La Tapatia, 1749 Richmond Ave., Montrose, Houston, 77098 La Tapatia, 1749 Richmond Ave., Montrose, Houston, 77098

The Richmond Ave branch of La Tapatia at the corner of Woodhead St. is back in operation this week after the late summer toasting of its 1969 building, a few readers report. Up top is a shot of the July 22 response from the Houston Fire Department (whose Station 16 is located a convenient half-block away across Richmond at the corner with Dunlavy St.). That’s Fairmont Museum District looking on worriedly from the background; the poop-scrutinizing Richwood Place apartment complex’s older half would have had a clear view of the action from the western turret. 

Photos: Marcie Newton (top), James Glassman (sign)

Where There’s Queso, There Was Fire
07/15/16 3:30pm

Montrose at Main, ca. 1925 from Preservation Houston archives

Mecom Fountain in front of Hotel ZaZa, Main and Montrose, Houston

The elliptical roundabout where Main and Montrose come together has gotten a bit taller since the scene showed in the photo above (which the archivist activists at Preservation Houston dug out of their files this week). The photo shows the sunken garden that once occupied the space at the acute intersection; the Museum of Fine Arts building can be seen lurking behind a few trees in the background, flanked to the left by the long-gone Montrose Apartments. A trail of mid-1920s automobiles can be seen caravaning northeast alongside Main St.’s spacious esplanades toward a sparsely-towered Downtown.

The fountain (which was recently granted protected historic landmark status after its crowdfunded de-restoration) replaced the gardens in the 1960s when John Mecom built redid the Warwick Hotel nearby (shown in the second photo above in its more recent but still storied reincarnation as Hotel ZaZa). Below is a look straight up now-well-treed Montrose Blvd. from southeast of the fountains, along Hermann Park’s rail-sliced Grand Gateway corridor — that’s the 5000 Montrose condo tower on the left, and the Museum Tower on the right:

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Growing Up at Montrose at Main
06/29/16 3:45pm

Mecom Fountain from COH
2120 Sabine St., First Ward, Houston, 77007This morning the city announced that it’s giving protected historic landmark status to the Mecom Fountain, in the wake of this year’s partial tuscanization of the 1960s mod landmark (and subsequent crowdfunded reversal thereof). All that bright blue primer has been cocooned over, and full de-restoration was scheduled to be finished by the end of last month.

Also getting the same protective status bump today: the 1883 house at 2120 Sabine St., formerly the First Ward home of state representative August von Haxthausen, who in the late 1800s ran Houston’s German language newspaper the Texas Deutsche Zeitung. That house got its own (more permanently) colorful restoration in 2015 — below are some close-up photos of the newly-technicolor wraparound porch from a previous listing of the property on HAR:

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Colorful Histories
05/19/16 10:30am

Mecom Fountain de-restoration, Main at Montrose, Museum District, Houston, 77006

The blue all over the Mecom Fountain on Monday signaled the start of the now-fully-funded work to undo the damage to the 1960s monument caused by the quickly-backtracked application of limestone panels to its exterior earlier this spring. Also on the docket, as the panel damage gets fully repaired: another restoration, this one using architect Eugene Werlin’s original plans (which the fundraising group Friends of the Fountain says it found in a Houston parks department office).

The group says workers are using historically appropriate materials, including Cocoon brand liquid polymer coating (to be layered over the blue primer on the exterior) and Moon Dust plaster (to line the insides of the basins). Here’s a look at parts of the 1964 architectural drawings, which call for Cocoon in the notes:

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Drained on Main
05/03/16 10:30am

MFAH Stickers at Fannin at Montrose, Museum District, Houston, 77005

A reader sends a few shots of a developing piece along Fannin St. composed of traffic signal poles and discarded Museum of Fine Arts visitor stickers. The section above can be viewed from the intersection of Fannin with Montrose Blvd. (just south of the Mecom Fountain near the name change to Hermann Park Dr.) To the southwest lies Hermann Park’s Grand Gateway corridor (the string of light-rail-divided esplanades that started getting jazzed up as part of Hermann Park Conservancy’s 100th birthday present to the space); the landscaped strip runs directly north-south from the fountain roundabout to the Sam Houston statue.

Poles in the vicinity have been accumulating stickers since at least 2013. Here are a few more artsy angles on the scene:

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Stuck in the Museum District
02/26/16 10:15am

Mecom Fountain, Main at Montrose, Museum District, Houston, 77006

A group called Friends of the Fountain has started an online campaign to raise $60,000 for reversing the recently-halted-after-all changes to the Mecom Fountain, at the roundabout confluence of Main St. and Montrose Blvd. near the entrance to Hermann Park. The group’s crowdfunding page says the money will be used to remove the limestone panels recently screwed around the concrete wall of the 1964 modernist fountain’s elliptical main basin, as well as to repair the concrete and to repaint. A member of Mayor Turner’s transition committee involved with the project also tells Swamplot this morning that around $25,000 of those funds will replace the grant money spent to add the panels in the first place.

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In Reverse at the Roundabout
02/22/16 2:45pm

1638 Banks, Houston, 77006

An uncovered courtyard is the centerpiece of this former home of Astrodome and ex-Houston Post building architect Ralph Anderson, who designed the 1,805-sq.-ft. space and lived there leading up to his death in 1990.  The 2-bedroom 2-bath house features floor-to-ceiling windows and brick floors arrayed around the central atrium, which held a large tree until early last year.  The 1959 home, now housing a much smaller tree in a courtyard planter, went on the market a week and a half ago at $875,000.

The front door is set into a patterned concrete wall:

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A Tree Grows in Boulevard Oaks
02/11/16 10:30am

Mecom Fountain with Limestone Paneling, Main at Montrose, Museum District, Houston, 77006

Here’s a late-afternoon look at the limestone slabs that have been working their way around the concrete oval basin of the Mecom Fountain in the last week, which the Texas Historical Commission is hoping that TXDoT and the city will stop applying for the moment, according to the Chronicle’s Lisa Gray. Commissioner Linda Henderson told Gray that the organization approved work to redo the north entrance to Hermann Park without realizing that the updates included work on the fountain itself (which is currently being looked at for potential inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, and for city protected landmark status).

Meanwhile, the city planning department has been receiving complaints about the work that include phrases like “suburban mall,” Margaret Wallace tells the Chronicle. As of yesterday evening, the panels had already marched around both ends of the ellipse, with a gap remaining on the southwest side:

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Getting Stoned at Main and Montrose
12/23/15 2:45pm

4504 Caroline, Museum District, Houston, 77004
Do you have an untapped entrepreneurial side and flautas worth flaunting? This 3-bedroom, 2-bath 1930’s home comes equipped with its own taco stand, ready to serve your culinary ambitions. Located on 7,500 sq.ft. directly behind the Mexican Consulate, the 2,882 sq.-ft. building and attachment are yours for $420,000. (In related news, Happy Jalapeno is now closed.)

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Very Hot on the Market
04/24/15 3:00pm

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Until neighboring homes now under construction weigh in, the largest home — by just a couple sq. ft. — on its Museum District block in Jandor Gardens is a custom 2006 contemporary by Stern & Bucek. The home stacks up on one side of a wide, slightly terraced, slightly dog-legged lot. The property avoids pesky back neighbors entirely — the lawn, landscaping, and pristine pool extend to the street behind. Earlier this week, the listing appeared on the market with a $3.95 million price tag.

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Back Stretch
01/06/15 10:45am

ANOTHER CHELSEA GETS AWAY Construction of the Carter Apartments, 4 Chelsea Blvd., Montrose, HoustonGood morning! It’s 2015, oil is already checking out the territory south of $50 a barrel, and Swamplot is ready to begin its coverage of cancellation and delay announcements from real estate developers. We’ll start this one gently, with an Inside the Loop project you probably hadn’t even heard of — though its name certainly sounds familiar: The developers of Chelsea Museum District, a proposed apartment complex atop a podium garage with a bit of retail thrown in planned for the north side of Blodgett St. between Crawford and La Branch, tell the HBJ‘s Paul Takahashi they are “contemplating holding [the] project to see how the multifamily market fares amid low oil prices.” But don’t confuse Trans Unity Investment’s Chelsea Museum District with another project less than a mile to the west at 4 Chelsea Blvd. that used to be called Chelsea Montrose, but has since been renamed The Carter (no, not kidding), and which developer StreetLights Residential has already begun building (see construction photo above from just before Christmas). [Houston Business Journal] Photo: Marc Longoria

12/16/14 10:30am

tema-hermann-park-trees

These mighty fallen timbers are just “one of the costs of development,” writes a reader with a commanding, bird’s-eye-view of Tema Development’s just-commenced addition to the Parklane amid its planned four-phase Hermann Park-side portfolio. “I’d love to know when these trees were planted and what was originally on the lot. Purely based on size, most appear to be 30 to 60 years old and many are larger than the trees in Hermann Park.”

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Tim-berrr!
12/01/14 3:30pm

FINE DINING, 24-HOUR ROOM SERVICE AND BUTLERS TOTING WINE COMING TO MOSAIC ON ALMEDA RD. davis-st-restaurant-mosaic-almeda A reader sends in this photo of Davis St. at Hermann Park, a fine-dining establishment officially opening Wednesday on the ground floor of the Mosaic on Hermann Park at 5925 Almeda Rd. According to our reader this stretch of Almeda —across the street from the park’s golf course and south of Binz St. — is something of a restaurant desert. “I am eagerly awaiting more variety than Fuddruckers & Luby’s” the reader says. Mosaic residents can avail themselves of 24-7 in-room dining, as well as  “private wine storage with handpicked wines from around the world by our in-house sommelier featuring 24-hour access through our bonded butler service.” Non-Mosaic-dwelling Houstonians will have to avail themselves of the restaurant’s fare in the dining room and during normal business hours. [Davis Street at Hermann Park] Swamplot inbox