05/22/18 11:30am

Salem Lutheran Church has plans to expand its current religious and pre-K–8 school campus, which sits just over 2 miles west of Hwy. 249 in Tomball. The idea: to develop roughly 100 acres adjacent to its existing facilities, adding new school structures and landscaping behind the pond-front church building shown in the photo at top, taken from above Lutheran Church Rd. The parking lot pictured on the left would also be enlarged, and a new complex of athletic fields would abut it to the south.

The master plan also includes not only these additions, but also a 73-lot residential area to the far west:

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Live, Learn, and Pray
05/09/18 4:30pm

Construction broke ground in March on America Gardens, the star-spangled first venue Syn Hospitality has planned as part of a 4-bar complex dubbed Midtown Common it’s developing on Caroline St. And already, Core Church Midtown has fled the block and taken refuge in the CrossWalk Center, a 2-story structure in the Near Northside. Formerly home to Employment Training Centers Inc., it’s on N. Main 3 blocks south of Quitman — next door to Label Warehouse’s building — and houses a facility that assists convicts recently released from jail.

The 5,000-sq.-ft. now-vacant strip center in Midtown had been home to the church since 2016. When the neighboring construction wraps up, America Gardens and its 3 planned accomplices — Don Chingon, the Social House, and Wishful Drinking — will abut the empty building’s west side, as indicated in the map below:

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Midtown Common
04/04/18 4:00pm

Exterior renovations are nearly complete on the 39,213-sq.-ft. building Houston’s First Baptist Church took over from a local branch of the Communication Workers of America on the corner of Jefferson and Chenevert last year. The new location is number 4 for the church — existing worship centers include the flagship spot on the Katy Fwy. just outside 610, as well as other sites in Cypress and Missouri City.

Crews began whitewashing the brick walls adjacent to the curved entrance drive along the building in January:

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Downtown Christening
03/23/18 5:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: AMID DEMOLITION, SOME SOJOURN HEIGHTS CHURCH PARTS FIND SALVATION “. . . We couldn’t find a taker for the limestone. I’m not a mason, so I’m not sure what turned so many off from it when they came to look at it. I know one flaw is that it was quarried with inconsistent thicknesses throughout, which made it not an ideal candidate for paving stones and challenging in vertical applications. We would rather it have been reused, just couldn’t make it happen. We were, however, able to salvage most of the steel windows that were in good shape from the building to be repurposed. Hopefully that brings you some good cheer. They’re beautiful windows.” [Scott, commenting on Churchyard Excavator Now Breaking Down Walls Between Sojourn Heights’ Current Home on Aurora and Its Soon-To-Be Sanctuary] Photo of windows salvaged from demolished building on Sojourn Heights campus, 608 Aurora St.: Joe Meppelink

03/20/18 12:30pm

Crews are now digging a hole through the middle of the Sojourn Heights church campus off Gostick St., south of Aurora in Sunset Heights. The rendering above looks west across Gostick to show the fenced-off lawn that will eventually grow in place of the demolished building. The new green space is bookended by renovated street-fronting structures and backed by a smaller addition that’s planned on the far west side of the just-over-an-acre church property.

Before the takedown got started yesterday, the complex consisted of 3 buildings that lined Gostick:

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Prayer Semi-Circle
11/20/17 2:00pm

The metal dome situated street-side at the Annunciation Orthodox Cathedral on the corner of Yoakum and Kipling for just under a month has been lifted and installed atop the church’s sanctuary. The photo at top shows the dome in its earthly state just over a week ago. Members of a crowd that watched its ascension early Saturday morning snapped pictures showing the half-sphere, now sheathed, being placed via crane on top of the metal dock that now exalts it:

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Annunciation Orthodox
11/01/17 4:15pm

Now sitting near the corner of Yoakum Blvd. and Kipling St. in place of the electronic sign for Annunciation Orthodox Cathedral: framework forming the new dome that will soon be mounted atop the structure’s sanctuary. The steel half-orb, meant to cap off a $12.5 million cathedral renovation and expansion project, has been under construction streetside since at least last week, as these pics submitted by Swamplot readers show:

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Annunciation Orthodox
04/10/17 11:30am

Bible Days Church, 501 Quitman St., Near Northside, Houston, 77009Bible Days Church, 501 Quitman St., Near Northside, Houston, 77009

Bible Days Church, 501 Quitman St., Near Northside, Houston, 77009Showing up on the market this month, just in time for Easter: a couple of buildings and lots belonging to Bible Days Revival Church, formally located at or around 501 Quitman St. in Near Northside. The church gives 1935 as the construction date for at least one of the included structures up for grabs, which sit on a block along the northern light-rail line next to a formerly Exxon-branded gas station. Along with the sanctuary, the new listings include a few multifamily structures and empty lots: 

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Come Into the Light-Rail
10/10/16 5:00pm

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church renderings, 3511 Yoakum Blvd., WAMM, Houston, 77006

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 3511 Yoakum Blvd., WAMM, Houston, 77006A look at the latest plans for bulking up the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Yoakum Blvd. at Kipling St. come from the diagrams submitted with a recent variance request for the project (and a few more now up on the church’s website). For comparison, a reader sends some leafy shots of the cathedral at its current width, snapped a few days before the setup for the annual Houston Greek Festival (which wrapped up on the church’s campus for the 50th time yesterday evening).

The expansion would widen the 1952 cathedral building to the north and south (toward and away from Kipling), about doubling the current seating capacity; the design also adds that big dome to the top (while the smaller dome along the Yoakum-side bell tower would get a new nitrate finish stainless-steel top-off to match). The church submitted the request for a 1-ft. building line setback last month, including this drawing from Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie architects (which shows a leaf-free perspective from the corner of Yoakum and Kipling):

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Toward the Heavens, To the Curb
02/12/16 10:00am

ROTHKO CHAPEL LIGHTING COULD GET REDONE WITH FUNDS FROM ONLINE CLOTHING AUCTION Rothko Chapel, 3900 Yupon St., Montrose, Houston, 77006Reworking the Rothko Chapel’s lighting scheme is high on the wishlist of things to fund with proceeds from an online auction opening this Monday, David Leslie tells Cara Smith of the HBJ. While no specific plans to modify the space are set yet, the chapel’s executive director hopes changes over the next few years will help with “presenting the chapel in a holistic way that’s inviting, regardless of the day, time or lighting” — though Leslie also reflects that “the mystery of the chapel is that it does change with the light throughout the day, and it’s not static.” The auction is the brainchild of international socialite and chapel board member Lynn Wyatt, who will be putting some of her own high-end couture and art prints on the docket, alongside contributions from a few friends (including Wes Anderson, Elton John, and Tilda Swinton). Other items on the 1971 chapel’s maybe-to-do list: visitors services infrastructure for its 90,000-plus annual pilgrims, conference space, and some pool maintenance. [HBJ] Photo of the Rothko Chapel: Brandi Lynn via Swamplot Flickr pool

12/04/14 11:15am

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The Harmony Wedding Chapel at 8120 Gulf Freeway has been one of Houston’s most familiar freeway-side landmarks for 50 years, a little slice of backstreet Las Vegas that has now provided 5 generations with cheap, often hastily-arranged weddings. (Even today a bare-bones ceremony with no guests is a mere $50.)

But as the site of the first gay marriage in Texas, it is a landmark in American LGBT history too. There on the banks of Sims Bayou, on October 6, 1972, Brownsville-bred former high school football player Antonio Molina married William “Billie” Ert, a female impersonator who performed in local nightclubs as “Mr. Vicki Carr,” in tribute to the El Paso-bred singer. (One such spot was Ursula’s, a lesbian-friendly bar at 1512 W. Alabama, the future home of a succession of failed restaurants and now the home of the Skin Renewal Center.)

Handing over a wedding certificate Ert obtained by appearing in front of court clerks in very convincing drag, the couple exchanged vows before an activist chaplain they had brought in, and sealed them with a kiss. A firestorm awaited them outside the chapel’s Gulf Freeway feeder road-facing doors. 

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Highwayside History
08/26/14 12:15pm

Former Meridian Nightclub, 1503 Chartres St., East Downtown, Houston

A little more than a year after settling into the new location it rehabbed from the former Phillips Paper Company warehouse at 1100 Elder St. in the First Ward, Ecclesia Church appears ready to begin another renovation project and move — this time to East Downtown. The church, which began its life 15 years ago as part of the Taft St. Coffee House complex in Montrose, signed a contract last Friday to purchase the 50,000-sq.-ft. former Meridian nightclub building at 1503 Chartres St. for $3.75 million, pastor and church founder Chris Seay announced during his sermon over the weekend.

The church plans to continue its serial-renovation, just-add-coffee-house growth strategy in the new space. (Taft St. Coffee House’s successor cafe in the First Ward is Paper Co., built into the church’s space there.) The Meridian building, where the nightclub closed in 2010, lies south of the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Toyota Center on the east side of the 59 overpass. The church had originally made several attempts to purchase the building back in 2009, Seay said. But a new chance arose recently, after a bankruptcy sale:

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Stripping Buildings in East Downtown
03/03/14 4:30pm

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Just add performer (or pastor) and this former church building with studio-friendly sound and light system will be ready to roll. Or rock. The 1985 property on a residential street is set within Depenbrook Allen, a Near Northside neighborhood located off Quitman St. near I-45. Re-listed last week, the former home of Ministerio Zoe Vida now has a new asking price of $169,900. Previous price points ranged from $245,000 (at its initial listing in May 2013) to the $175K it had reached by December, when it went on a quick winter break.

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Take a Seat
05/20/13 11:00am

This rendering shows one of 4 charitable duplexes planned to go up in Meyerland that will be set aside for single-mother families. Construction began late last week on property that’s owned St. John’s Presbyterian Church at 5020 W. Bellfort Ave., between Willowbend and S. Post Oak Blvd., just outside the Loop. One of the 8 units will also be home to an on-site caseworker.

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