06/15/18 10:45am

The Red Door Cafe’s red door remains at 1918 E. NASA Pkwy., but Hubcap Grill has refashioned the rest of the space into something more chop-shop chic: a new paintjob sets off the chrome appointments now covering the once-white front facade and a new headlamp illuminates the door. There’s also BURGERS on the grille above the entrance.

But that’s just the bodywork. The interior got a full remodel, too, including new floors, appliances, AC, electrical, and this custom chandelier:


Auto Body Transformation
02/09/18 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: IDENTIFYING THE WILDLIFE ON THE VALENTINE CORNER LAW OFFICE IN SEABROOK “So those are dolphins along the sidewalk, made many years ago by Mr. Miller across the street. And there were sharks on the side of the building up high. I took them down a few years ago to have the sharks polished, and the guy I hired disappeared with my 2 sharks.” [Michael Valentine, commenting on TxDOT Wins Custody of Head-Turning Tiny Law Office in Seabrook Ahead of Planned Hwy. 146 Widening] Photo of Valentine Law Office, 1210 Bayport Blvd.: BFS Man [license]

02/07/18 4:30pm

The 660-sq.-ft. law office marooned on a traffic island in Seabrook for 86 years might finally get ousted from its spot in local what-is-that-thing lore when TxDOT’s planned road widening project gets underway along a 3-mile stretch of Hwy. 146. Attorney Michael Valentine bought the building on the corner of Bayport Blvd. and 2nd St. in 1989 and did it up with the leafy haircut and  shark dolphin-themed metal edging. (Bayport Blvd. is the segment of 146 that runs through Seabrook — shown to the left of building in the photo at top.) In its past lives, the 2-story wedge at 1210 Bayport had been at various points an ice house and a bait shop.

Documents filed with Harris County Clerk show that TxDOT agreed to snatch the building from Valentine for a sum of $114,356 last October after filing an eminent domain proceeding against the entity he uses to administer the property. At least 9 other businesses along Bayport, including Ryan’s Cleaners, Tookie’s Burgers, and Laredo’s Tex-Mex Cafe have already closed or relocated ahead of the roadwork that plans to turn 146 between Red Bluff Rd. and Clear Creek — currently 4 lanes — into 12.


Eminent Domain
06/22/16 12:45pm

Tookie's Seafood, 1106 Bayport Blvd., Seabrook, TX, 77586

Seabrook’s Tookie’s Burgers’ new marine-minded companion is up and running this week at 1106 Bayport Blvd. The original rural-drugstore-themed Tookie’s opened in 1975 but was destroyed by Hurricane Ike; Barry and Melissa Terrell bought and reopened the 3,800-sq.-ft.-ish burger stand in 2011 before getting started on an elevated 12,000-sq.-ft. Tookie’s-branded seafood spot (shown above in late spring prior to final construction touches) in the lot next door. 

The new Tookie’s, standing on stilts some 3 blocks from the SH 146 bridge over Clear Lake and Galveston Bay, is more hurricane resistant than the still-functioning original (or at least less flood-prone). The raised space is designed to hold around 400 people (counting a 100-person banquet space), though the company says they’re running at about half capacity for now while the staff gets the hang of things. Here’s a peek at the building from earlier this year, with the yellow signage of the original Tookie’s just visible in the distance to the upper left:


Jumbo Shrimp Shop
12/17/14 5:05pm


With the U.S.-Cuba cold war finally melting away, it’s as good a time as ever to point out a few key sites from Fidel Castro’s trip to the area, and those associated with Houston’s Robert Ray McKeown, the machinist-turned-international businessman-turned-peripheral figure to the JFK assassination. McKeown was also Castro’s best buddy on Galveston Bay, and a man who claimed to have met Lee Oswald in San Leon and sipped beer with Jack Ruby at Jimmie Walker’s Edgewater Restaurant in Kemah.

The story begins in Houston in 1950. McKeown, then 39, was a machinist with his own shop in Pasadena. One day his ship came in: an inventor approached him with a plan for a machine that could clean coffee better than any other before it. McKeown built the machine, and apparently several more, and the two men went into business. McKeown trolled the coffee ports of Latin America for sales, which eventually lead to him moving to Santiago, Cuba during the administration of president Carlos Prío Socarrás, who would become a friend.


Cold War Picaresque
06/16/14 2:30pm



Fans of parquet flooring will note a similar squarish pattern covers the ceilings (top) of this 1958 mod in Seabrook’s El Lago Estates. The property’s listing, which debuted in March, suggests building a second home on the big, park-like lot near Taylor Lake. A water view, though, means traipsing down the meandering roadway to peek through neighbors’ fences. Woodsy vistas, however, are available from almost every room in the home . . .


Open Plan, Inside and Out
04/23/14 4:15pm

514 Villa Dr., Villas by the Sea, Seabrook, Texas

514 Villa Dr., Villas by the Sea, Seabrook, TexasWelcome to lovely Villa by the Sea, the quaint Mediterranean-themed gated McMansion development off Todville Rd. in Seabrook that just happens to be built on the grounds of the former mansion where owner, trailer-rental mogul, and child predator Bill List was shot by some angry houseguests back in 1984. That last detail about the neighborhood’s history, apparently, was unknown to Nir Golan, who recently signed a lease to rent the house pictured above. The 4,550-sq.-ft. seaside home at 514 Villa Dr. was built in 2006 on a section of the land where part of List’s absurd 34,000-sq.-ft. mansion itself once stood, facing east toward Galveston Bay.

Golan says his Realtor didn’t tell him about the homesite’s history, but that he simply can’t live there now that he knows what happened. “People say that they wouldn’t come to my house as a guest,” he tells KHOU’s Jacqueline Crea. Crea reports that the homeowner has agreed to terminate Golan’s lease, but won’t return the deposit; he tells her he had no obligation to disclose any information about the Todville mansion. (Law professor Gerald Treece, who appears in the story, seems to agree on the disclosure issue.) Golan plans to sue to the current owner to get his money back, he tells KHOU.


Spooked by a Bit of Seabrook History
01/28/14 11:45am



Taylor Lake is only part of the scene-setting found at this sprawling 1973 waterfront estate on a point of Seabrook’s El Lago Estates. While the lion’s share of the listing photos feature the tidy grounds and exterior’s grand-scaled impact, the interior delivers quite a cinematic cornucopia of thematic decor — and lighting, such as found in the fuchia glow of the Moulin Rouged bedroom pictured above. Scene it?


OMG Interiors
10/07/13 4:45pm

Marshlands ebb and flow just off a 1.3-acre by-the-bay property on the Surf Oaks Marsh side of Pine Gully in Seabrook. Neighbors across the wetlands are pretty quiet — they include rugged Pine Gully Park and Seabrook Cemetery. The porched, patioed, and pavilioned home appeared on the market last week with an asking price of $625,000. Back in 2009, it sold for $400,000 (when the asking price was $449,000).


12/17/12 11:40am

Cupola-capped, this perky 1967 seaside retreat in Seabrook’s El Jardin Del Mar community has expansive views of Upper Galveston Bay from cheery-trimmed windows and a gazebo-enhanced porch. Asking $350,000 since its initial listing 2 months ago, the property’s unwavering price includes all the “like-a-picture book” furnishings, many of which are as mirrored as the walls.


10/24/12 2:58pm

DEMOLISHING HOUSTON’S GRISLY PAST “Houstonians just don’t celebrate death and the past the way New Orleanians do,” writes John Nova Lomax in his recounting of 4 creepy tales from Bayou City history. “In fact, we tend to simply forget all the awful and weird things that have happened here over the last 176 years, and mercifully so, because there have been an enormous number of terrible episodes.” It’s much easier to forget, of course, when the gruesome settings themselves are summarily disposed of. The “Houston Heights House of Horror” — a 3-room shack at 732 Ashland St. that was the scene of a noted hatcheting in 1910 — by 1937 had been torn down and replaced. Its substitute is gone now too; a warehouse that’s home to a company called SemaSys now stands in its place. And down in Seabrook, condos occupy the site of the famous warehouse-like “Mansion on Todville Rd.” (in photo) where in 1984 a group of housesitting youngsters murdered its owner, child predator Bill List. [Houston Press] Photo of atrium, 3300 Todville Rd., Seabrook: Carl Guderian [license]

11/01/11 12:50pm

How was Seabrook homeowner Brad Gana able to wriggle out of foreclosure proceedings on his home at the last minute? By hiring a lawyer to argue that his house does not exist. And indeed, the visual evidence is compelling: All that’s left of Gana’s waterfront structure at 1910 Todville Rd., which apparently washed away 3 years ago during Hurricane Ike while Gana was working overseas, is an empty slab, protected by a front gate and littered until recently with a few of Gana’s tools and collectibles. (After the proceedings were canceled, KPRC’s Amy Davis reports, Bank of America had those items removed from the property.)


03/24/11 10:17am

What says Bay Area luxury living better than a front entry at the end of a thin pedestrian bridge over your pool? This arresting multi-towered confection with the “don’t shoot me” stance quivers about a block from Galveston Bay in Seabrook. At ease, dude! We’re just here for the party.


07/05/10 12:49pm

Armed with your suggestions, roving Swamplot photographer Candace Garcia set out to document the smallest freestanding commercial buildings in Houston she could find. And here are the results! Above, “The Spot” hair salon at 1207 Westheimer in Montrose, at the corner of Commonwealth.

More tiny: