08/03/16 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOUSTON HEIGHTS HISTORY IN THE MAKING Houston Heights Craftorian Home“. . . They probably looked around and saw hundreds of 3k-plus-sq.-ft. Faux Craftsman, Faux Victorian, Faux Colonial, Faux Historic, etc. ‘bungalows,’ that have replaced (or bastardized) most of the real Craftsman, Victorian, Colonial, historic bungalows and realized that the Heights ‘style’ is all fake anyway, so why bother replicating more Faux? They instead designed a building that represents its own era, 2016. . . . Don’t fret, in 100 years, this will be ‘historic’ too.” [John M, commenting on Once Bashful Heights Post Office Replacement Retail Now Willing To Step Up to the Street, Learn To Like Sidewalks] Illustration: Lulu

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:


Colorful Histories
04/06/16 10:45am

Yale St. Bridge over White Oak Bayou, Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

Yale St. Bridge over White Oak Bayou, Houston Heights, Houston, 77007 An orange and black construction marquee is now advertising the upcoming closure of the Yale St. bridge over White Oak Bayou just south of I-10, starting the Monday after next and running until the New Year’s Eve after next. The 1931 bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is slated for replacement after years of asking crossers to please watch their weight (with 10,000 pounds per axle being the most recent upper limit). The per-axle limit was at 8,000 pounds prior to a 2012 drop to 3,000 (which disqualified some SUVs and minivans). The addition of carbon strips to the structure caused TxDOT’s weight limit to yo-yo back up to 10,000.

The plans for the new bridge floated by TxDOT in 2014 included wider outside vehicle lanes and slightly narrower sidewalks (down to 5 feet from 6). But summary and followup notes from the public meeting held at the end of July 2014 say the design has been updated to include 8-foot-wide shared bike and pedestrian pathways on either side of the bridge, in response to the public comments on the project.

The TxDOT meeting summary notes also documents the agency’s attempt to sell the bridge in the Houston Chronicle:


Coming Back a New Bridge
03/10/16 10:45am

The Cistern, Buffalo Bayou Park near Sabine St. at Memorial Dr., Houston, 77007

Update, 3/24: BBP has updated the link to and language of the job posting; this story has been updated.

Wanted: Buffalo Bayou Partnership is seeking some college types folks to show people around the long-empty city drinking water reservoir near the intersection of Sabine St. and Memorial Dr., which the group also hopes to turn into a temporary art space some day. The “accidental cathedral” was only accessible by a set of hatches and 14-foot ladders back when BBP first examined it; a $1.2-million grant is being used to bring the 87,200-sq.-ft. underground space up to code for visitors.

The cistern, nicknamed after the 6th-century reservoir beneath Istanbul, lies just north of the Lee and Joe Jamail Skate Park beneath what will become a raised outdoor lawn intended for concerts and events at Buffalo Bayou Park. The 1927 reservoir was drained and decommissioned decades ago after it started leaking uncontrollably; the structure was planned for demolition and fill-in by the city around the time the park’s planners took an interest in the space, initially imagining uses like parking and mulch storage.


Work in the Underground
03/08/16 2:30pm

Renovation of Sunset Coffee Building at Allen's Landing, Downtown, Houston, 77002

A shiny new cistern is now in place at the former Sunset Coffee building at Allen’s Landing, which Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Houston First have been redeveloping into an office-topped boat-and-bike-rental spot.  The 1910 coffee roasting facility has once again donned walls after moving past a Summer 2014 minimalist phase, and is currently decked out in a muted Café du Monde orange.

The no-longer-see-through structure is back to limiting the view from the Harris County Jail across the bayou (visible on the far right, above). A set of stairs are in place alongside the new cistern, along with railings around what appears to be the planned rooftop terrace.


Nearing Launch at Allen’s Landing
03/08/16 10:00am

TREE PROFESSIONALS: PECAN AT 509 LOUISIANA ST. WOULD HAVE JUST DIED ANYWAY Pecan Tree formerly at 509 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002The pecan tree formerly behind the former Longhorn Cafe on Louisiana St. is down at last, following the 100-plus-year-old buildings at 509 and 517 Louisiana into that Great Big Preservation District in the Sky. Nancy Sarnoff of the Houston Chronicle reports that 2 arborists were called in to examine the tree, and pronounced it dead-or-close-enough: Lauren Lusk Willis, a member of the family that owns the next-door Lancaster Hotel, told the Chronicle that a lightning strike had damaged the tree, and that its core was rotting. Willis said that the pecan “would not likely have survived the leveling of the lot for any construction,” and that “ultimately, it wouldn’t have survived regardless.” The tree, haunted by a both-Sam-and-city-of Houston ghost story, was long visible only to those who entered 509 Louisiana’s hidden courtyard, until the pecan’s 2001 outing by the demo of the Rice Rittenhouse parking garage; it went back into hiding by the end of 2003 with the help of 33-story Calpine Center. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of the pecan tree, following demolition of 509 Louisiana St.: KineticD

12/17/15 11:30am

FUTURE GAS STATION COFFEE SHOP TOPS THE CITY’S LIST OF NEW HISTORIC LANDMARKS former Gulf Oil Filling Station, 3709 La Branch, Midtown, Houston, 77004Among the structures designated as historic landmarks by the City yesterday: an abandoned gas station at 3709 La Branch St. in Midtown. The interior of the 1925 Gulf Oil filling station has been unemployed for the past 30 years, though the exterior has occasionally taken gigs as a canvas for grafitti artists. The structure, which is now under protection in perpetuity, will become Retrospect Coffee Bar in coming months, as part of the larger Almeda Yards development planned for the area. The shop will offer local coffee and sweets, and will attempt to preserve the structure’s original feel. [Paper City] Photo: City of Houston

12/15/15 10:00am

Deluxe Theater, 3303 Lyons Ave, Fifth Ward, 77020

No fewer than 11 pairs of scissors reached to cut the ribbon in front of Fifth Ward’s DeLuxe Theater at 3303 Lyons Ave. as it formally reopened yesterday. The 1941 movie-theater-briefly-turned-art-gallery, which has sat empty since 1973, will now host plays, classes, and other community and art events put on by Texas Southern University; TSU jazz students performed at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The original facade and marquee have been restored and updated:


Now Playing Off 59
12/03/15 10:45am

Tin Hall Dancehall, 14800 Tin Hall Rd, Cypress, 77429

Cypress may be losing a piece of its history: 126-year-old Tin Hall, Harris County’s oldest and largest country dancehall (and perennial first listing among area attractions on the Cypress community’s Wikipedia page). The venue is slated to close its doors on New Year’s Day.

The 24,000-sq.-ft. facility sports a 4,400-sq.-ft. dance floor on the second story, and sits on 40 ac. of wooded land surrounded by suburbs on two sides and the Longwood Golf Club on another. The property was sold last December to an entity that shares a Woodway address with McGuyer Homebuilders.

A New Year’s Eve bash is billed as Tin Hall’s last public gathering — at least in its current locale. A spokesperson for the dancehall said on Facebook that they hope the hall can be moved in pieces and rebuilt:


Dancehall Blues
07/13/15 1:15pm

PRESERVING HOUSTON’S UNSENTIMENTALISM Barbara Jordan Post Office, 401 Franklin St., Downtown HoustonWhat Houston should be preserving for future generations, Scott Vogel ultimately argues in his editor’s note for the latest issue of Houstonia, is its glorious legacy of demolishing its own past. But first, there are a few annoying bastions of sentimentalism to, uh, tweak: “To me, any one of these adorable recollections seemed reason enough to save a building from the wrecking ball, or rather the explosive charges that ultimately reduced Macy’s née Foley’s to rubble over a few seconds last September. After all, why shouldn’t our descendants be able to see where Barbara, a member of the commentariat, had purchased a ‘going-away outfit’ for her wedding in 1972? Wouldn’t their lives be somehow diminished for not beholding, as John C. did, the ‘tight corkscrew ramps leading up and out’ of the Foley’s parking garage? Would they ever forgive our insanity for demolishing the place where Cody ‘actually bought our living room furniture’? The last two plaintive cries were uttered over at that other Bayou City Book of the Dead, Swamplot.com, where there is an inverse relationship, science tells us, between an agitator’s outrage over a proposed bulldozing and the number of times he has actually visited/shopped at the spot during the last decade. A club open to only the most radical, militantly preservationist of internet do-nothings, Swamplot is a place where the closing of the Barbara Jordan Post Office downtown occasions the tearing of hair and rending of garments. (“We got our passports renewed there one Saturday—no line, in and out in 15 minutes!” “I’ve been going there every year for decades to send off my Christmas cards!”) Amid all the hand-wringing, I found myself growing nostalgic too, for the negligent, squandering, unsentimental, destructive Houston of old.” [Houstonia] Photo of Barbara Jordan Post Office: CBRE

06/03/15 11:45am

Blue Tile Curb Street Signs, Houston

Downtowner Joey Sanchez has begun a project to photograph and document what he refers to as Houston’s first form of “street art”: the old school tile street signs that still stand guard by the curbs of a number of older city intersections. Already posted to the website he set up for the Blue Tile Project: an interactive map to confirmed locations — and links to Facebook and Instagram accounts, where photos of the signs, in various states of disrepair and dislocation, are posted. Sanchez reports he’s already found more than 160 of the signs, which he claims date from the 1920s.


The Blue Tile Project
04/29/15 2:45pm

American Brakeshoe Company Building, 3315 W. 12th St., Inner Loop Northwest, Houston

A lowslung brick 1965 building in the warehouse district in the northwest quadrant of the Inner Loop west of Timbergrove Manor and Lazybrook scored landmark status from the city today, marking the first such designation for an industrial, Modern, and suburban (well, at least used-to-be suburban) structure. NuSmile, a company that manufactures pediatric dental crowns, bought the former American Brakeshoe Company building in 2011 and then renovated it, adding a taller 6,140-sq.-ft. metal-wrapped extension to the back of the 8,584-sq.-ft. structure in 2013 and winning a Good Brick Award from Preservation Houston in the process. A report the company submitted with the application notes that “no records of an architect, contractor, or developer have been found” for the original building. Among the former tenants of the property at 3315 W. 12th St.: Smith Industries, TelTex, and TD Rowe Amusements.

Photo: SWCA

NuSmile on Building
04/14/15 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE OLD 3849 Inwood Dr., River Oaks, and 2219 Kane St., Old Sixth Ward, HoustonEverything you would want to know about Houston real estate is encapsulated in today’s demo list and the next story immediately after it. A beautiful, classic River Oaks home in outstanding (if not spotless) condition and with plenty of sq. ft. is going to be demoed in order to build some gaudy lot line monster. Then, a tiny turn of the century Victorian bungalow in terrible condition is put on a truck, moved to another location, and lovingly restored inch by inch into a wonderfully creative and artistic work space for a small architectural firm.” [Old School, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: The Fisher Ding] Photos: HAR (3849 Inwood Dr.); KinneyMorrow Architecture (2219 Kane St.)

04/13/15 12:30pm

Offices of KinneyMorrow Architecture, 2219 Kane St. Old Sixth Ward, HoustonMarked down from 2314 to 2219 Kane St., KinneyMorrow Architecture’s new office in an old structure now on the corner of Sawyer St. is definitely not a house any more. Blame the slot.







House Moves
03/18/15 3:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: JUST A SUGGESTION FOR NAU Incarnate Word Academy, 600 Crawford St., Downtown Houston“There is a solution to this situation and it’s a little ironic. The sisters of incarnate word want to stay downtown, but they say there’s no room. John Nau and his group own the block right next door to the campus. They just announced that they were canceling their fund raising efforts and giving all of the money donated back to the donors for a Houston history museum. It seems to me if John Nau wants to save some of Houston history, he could donate the block adjacent to the school so that that the historically important Nicholas Clayton building could be saved. That way his efforts to preserve history could still be accomplished, the nuns could stay downtown and the Nicholas Clayton building could be saved. Now that’s a lot easier than trying to figure out what to do with the dome!” [Bob R, commenting on Tearing Down Downtown’s Historic Incarnate Word Academy Building; A ‘Central Park’ for the Energy Corridor] Photo of Incarnate Word Academy, 600 Crawford St.: elnina