If the top of that pointy gazebo currently camped out at the about-to-open Park for Humans and Dogs by Glenwood Cemetery looks familiar, it’s because it’s been lurking around the Houston landscape for the last 115 years or so. This morning Susie Tommaney inventories the history and internet lore surrounding the house at 2201 Fannin St., from which a cupola nicknamed the Witch’s Hat was plucked just before the home’s 1997 demolition. “Not many people realize that the cupola was saved,” TIRZ 13 chair Claude Anello tells Swamplot, sending along the photo above of the hat’s installation, as well as his account of the hat’s rediscovery, reshaping, and ground-up career-building:
“I got a call a few years ago from Carl Detering, who had stored it in his outdoor storage yard at Detering’s on Washington. He was selling the property and told me that someone needed to get it or he would be forced to throw it in the dumpster. When I went to look at it, it had basically melted, [and] a tree had grown up through the middle of it (removed prior to photos) . . . Several people told us that it was beyond repair, but we dismantled it, had it reconstructed, and designed the park around it. It sat on the ground for a couple of years while we dealt with issues related to park design and permitting.”
Here’s a few tree-free glamour shots of the Hat prior to those reconstructive procedures, circa late 2013:
Most of the low mounds of dirt appear to be in place now at the carefully labeled Park for Human & Dogs on Sawyer between Union and Decatur streets (though there’s still grass to plant and a port-a-potty to extract). The park-to-be (across from beaver-free barbecue pub Beaver’s) sits on city-owned land backed backed up against the Glenwood Cemetery and the 2411 Washington apartment complex. The Old Sixth Ward Redevelopment Authority (e.g., TIRZ 13) was given to go-ahead to build on the site back in October.
Wavy playhouse designer Metalab currently has a few renderings of the project up on their website; those tiny hills popping up around the property make an appearance, as does the spindly gazebo off to the left above (which the firm says reemployed the Witch Hat, the salvaged cupola of an 1899 house demolished in 1997 at 2201 Fannin St.):
How’d the photographer get Houston Rocket star shooting guard James Harden to tower over Downtown Houston’s skyline in that Sports Illustrated spread from February (above)? Careful site selection — plus a plexiglas stage, to deal with the parapet wall:
“The editor already had a specific view in mind,” writes photographer Robert Seale, “and we referenced a rooftop fashion shot I had taken a few years earlier from that same spot. On the plus side when using a parking garage roof, you can control access which is a plus when working with a pro athlete. If we had done this out in the park, we might have gathered a crowd and needed more security guys.”
Here’s a view of the roof at the Marquis Lofts on Sabine at 150 Sabine St. just south of the Old Sixth Ward, where Seale set up the shoot:
A reader is curious about the source of the new call-if-you’re-gonna-park signs (pictured above) that went up last week on Union St., which breaks off from and parallels Washington Ave, between White and Henderson: “Is this city of Houston? I’ve never seen signs like this before. Or, if this is a private individual, is this legal?” There are no meters installed on the street, the reader says.
The signs are near Julep, which opened at 1919 Washington Ave. in early August after a long gestation period, and the would-be restaurant and bar at 2003 Union St. pictured below, which Swamplot reported on at the same time, more than a year ago:
Talk about shotgun stylin’: The listing for this double-barreled 1885 cottage in the Old Sixth Ward winks at its straight-shot floor plan with a sure-fire choice of equivalent-vintage decor above a bedroom door (top). Posted Wednesday, the renovated property (with patriotic porch) has a $325K asking price. The last time the home changed hands was 2012, when it sold for $242,000.
The DWI defense specialist whose enormous “Do Not Blow” billboard presided over Washington Ave early this decade (in the words of the Houston Press) “as the enormous and bespectacled eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg looked out on The Great Gatsby‘s Valley of Ashes,” has just purchased the long-vacant 11,604-sq.-ft. wedge-shaped former car lot at 2019 Washington Ave in the Old Sixth Ward. Attorney Tyler Flood (shown standing his ground on the lot, at left) plans to build a 6,700-sq.-ft. 3-story building on the corner of Washington and Henderson — with a café space on the first floor, lease space on the third floor, and his own law firm on the second. He’s hired Element Architects to design the building, which should look something like this:
Maybe this mystery has been solved: That old building at 908 Henderson just a block south of Liberty Station on Washington Ave is being converted into a restaurant called Big Eyed Fish. The owners just started posting some pics of the renovations to a Facebook page, and a new website promises that the place — “think southern upscale cuisine,” the website explains — is opening soon.
Now have at it: SmartGeometrics has made available for free on a website launched yesterday the data from 3D scans of the allegedly leaky, 87,500-sq.-ft. 1927 underground water reservoir near Sabine St. along Buffalo Bayou. Though the Buffalo Bayou Partnership would like to do something cool with the “accidental cathedral,” as Houston Chronicle columnist and cistern sympathizer Lisa Gray has called it, there’s no more funding available. Thus, the partnership is hoping some smart cookie who knows her way around AutoCAD (and programs like it) will use this free data to come up with an idea that woos someone or something else — like, say, Bud Light — to pay to make it happen.
Dude! Got a snazzy idea for that 1927 underground water reservoir near Sabine St. on Buffalo Bayou, but you just can’t picture what’s down there? Well, grab the potato chips and crank up Pink Floyd, because now you can. The Buffalo Bayou Partnership is reaching out in the hope that entrepreneurs, artists, and visionaries the city over will use the above video, created by SmartGeometrics, for inspiration. (And more 3D images are forthcoming on the partnership’s website.)
Even more action in the Old Sixth Ward: A reader sends this photo of the former Bayou City Market on the corner of Henderson and Kane, which appears to have been chosen as the future location of Bun Penny Food & Wine. The reader says that the neighborhood corner store has been closed for a few years. It’s just a few blocks south of the proposed location of that new office building fronting Washington Ave.
So much for that walkable plaza with bike stations and jugglers and food trucks: It appears that an office building is going to go up instead on this underused triangular slice o’ land along Washington Ave. The variance is to reduce the setback from 25 ft. to 5 ft. in order to make room for parking and a 3,517-sq.-ft. office building. The 0.26-acre triangle is bound by Henderson, White, Union, and Washington. A site plan included in the variance request shows that the office would go up on the Henderson side, across the street from Liberty Station.
A reader frequently on the lookout for new TABC signs has noticed one in the window of this former lounge at 908 Henderson, just a block south of Liberty Station on Washington Ave. Says the sign-spotter: “I was always told [this] was going to be a pizza place but never really believed it.” Does that sound too good to be true? County records don’t show a change in ownership of the 1915 3,036-sq.-ft. structure since 2008, but the TABC sign the reader saw does appear to date to this June.