Daily Demolition Report: Cornish Finish

2704 Helena St., Midtown, Houston

We now pause for a measure of Midtown mansion removal, before resuming our regularly scheduled program.


Commercial and Community Structures


Photo of 2704 Helena St.: HAR

35 Comment

  • …Wow. That is all. D:

  • The destruction of that home on Helena St is truly disgusting.

  • Ouch – that one hurt. There are not many of these oil and cattle baron manses left in Houston.

    However, I still marvel at the sheer amount of rotting woodwork needing replacement on that house. Every single square inch of every surface is wood – some of it quite ornate. The cost to restore all of that would easily have exceeded the value of the property, and then would require frequent and expensive upkeep to prevent it from returning to the state of decay in which it now sits.

  • what a shame, has it been listed for sale as of late? would like to see the condition of the interior…

  • Damn it, Houston. Sigh.

  • The demo of that historic structure is a lewd act and all Houston will end up with is a Pearl necklace.

  • Just like the guy I saw in Montrose with a vanity plate that read “PROFIT”. In Houston, it’s all called progress. Progress.

  • The one at 1117 Welch was already wrecked yesterday.

  • AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!! Someone please break in and steal the beautiful inlaid floors before they’re gone, if it’s not too late already.

  • That Helena St demolition really makes me angry. Looking around it, you can how a great area was almost intentionally turned into a ghetto. That mansion now stands on its own, and instead of turning the parking lots back into houses of the same style, tomorrows slums are being built on what was once a great area.

  • The guy that was renting here had a pretty legit halloween party….went out in style at least

  • density is progress, that entire block needs to go. there’s small towns all over texas full of beautiful rotting victorians with many as majestic as this one back from when king was cotton. nostalghia is always a short drive away folks.

  • Free market economics will not save these structures. Wish the city would offer incentives to preserve, vs salivating over the higher tax income that will inevitably come. If you can’t quantify the intangibles of historical character, I guess it isn’t worth anything in this city…

  • @joel,

    Not sure what it says about us if in order to see historic Victorian houses, you have to drive to a small town. Cities like Chicago or Boston, or even Austin and Dallas, have preserved historic homes, one of many layers of a magnificent city.

  • Awe, really? That’s a damn shame…

  • ” back from when king was cotton”

    BWAHA!! Dontcha love it when someone screws up a snotty remark?

  • For a moment I thought that was recently-renovated neoclassical at 3904 Brandt. I hate to see a remnant of that bygone era get scraped, even if it’s not my style. The elegance of their proportions and the sophistication of their craftsmanship and detailing are completely absent from today’s superhouses.

  • The house looks good on the outside, but take a look at the block and the neighbors. CRAP ! If one can afford to live in a mansion, they sure as hell don’t want neighbors that look like the ones that this place has. This house was doomed long before now.

  • This makes me sick. I don’t know how these people sleep at night.

  • The free market is exactly what would save a structure like this. It is rare, and it is the only opportunity to live in a house in an otherwise high density area. This was once a great neighborhood, and you can see the same with other midtown mansions. Look around, and it is evident that other houses were smashed up a long time ago. It took government subsidies and interference to make it more profitable to turn the area into a parking lot, and yet more subsidies and tax breaks to smash up luxury housing. Where are the tax breaks for people who refurbish houses, or rebuild a community?

  • Hey I.P. Freely, I wonder if that was Vinod Ramani, infamous owner of Urban Living. His MLS ID is “profit”. He could certainly be cruising around looking for the next house to knock down.

  • I’ve heard Houstonians bitch for decades about how we need a vibrant urban core. Now everyone bitches about the process of actually creating one. A vibrant urban core needs people. Lots and lots and lots of people. People need a place to live.

    Lots of people with good paying jobs and disposable income WANT to live in central Houston. I for one am glad we are accommodating them. New offices, new apartments, new townhouses, and new McMansions lead to new bars, new restaurants, new stores, etc.

    Bring it on.

  • we have similar homes preserved as well, but that doesn’t mean we should preserve them all. in almost every single city across the globe with rising property values this home would be torn down. that isn’t necessarily good or bad, it just is what it is. the market is designed to provide efficiencies in outcomes and I can’t deny that’s exactly whats happening here when I see a home with an equal cost in renovations to that of the land underneath it, if not more. what historical relevance does a private residence provide that can’t be experienced by the public through detailed pictures and 3D modeling? what historical significance can be gleaned from a lone free-standing 1930’s mansion in a neartown urban center that can’t be better communicated through more accurate visual aids? what value does an old home with early 20th century craftsmanship provide to the surrounding community? why should historical significance take precedence over more space for new community members?
    and sorry Hellsing, but the CIA torture report is a landmark in modern american history and way more important than focusing on comments today. but anyhow, why is that a snarky comment? why should we retain invaluable near-town land in large cities for such historical experiences when we could just outsource these to small size or even ghost towns with benefits to both communities?
    new houstonian, you’re assuming there weren’t the very same gov’t subsidies and interference in existence back in 1930 as there is today which is highly doubtful i’d say it’s the beneficial tax benefits provided to older structures with depreciating improvement values that helped it stick around for so long as it was. do we even know what this home replaced and what tax breaks for homeowners were in existence back then?

  • OH NOES!!! I wanted the house on Helena so badly but, alas, it was completely out of my league. Shame it will be apartments. Oh well- I wonder what they are doing with all the chandeliers?
    If you are reading this Mr. Developer I would like your chandeliers and pendants. Thank you.
    Sincerely, O.M. Pie.

  • Absolutely disgusting! Those floors are in excellent shape. You can’t buy that quality of wood for flooring, stairs, trim etc.; not because it would be too expensive but because it doesn’t exist anymore. And yes I vote historic vs crap any day! You want to build up the core? Just East of downtown is ripe.

  • If new homes replace this, I’m sure the craftsmanship won’t compare. These new townhomes they are building are crap.

  • WHAT?? I have loved seeing this lovely place after that goofy hospital was torn down… I love the south facing Palladian-esque window on the third floor. What a wonderful old house! Sad sad sad.

  • joel, if you or others of your generation assume there were “the very same gov’t subsidies and interference in existence back in 1930 as there is [sic] today,” then we’re going to need more than “3D modeling” to recall the past.
    We all know that Past People were uniformly bad, but they did tend to be bad on their own dime.

  • Usually I just shake my head when nice historic structures are demolished, but this one really just pisses me off. We all know extremely cheap townhomes will be put in it’s place. This is just sad.

  • I did see workers and a truck harvesting some of the interior last Friday. At least some of it was salvaged.

  • if history has taught me anything, it’s that it’s downright foolish to think that any one generation is that much different than any other that came before it. people are humans regardless of the time period, the only thing that changes are the tools at hand.

  • One tidbit of interest on that manse is that a 1990s-era owner was the former CIA field chief for TX & NM. This from the Houston Press circa 1995: http://www.houstonpress.com/1995-08-03/news/hold-me-kiss-me-thrill-me-kill-me/full/

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  • @joel – preface your comment regarding the fate of the entire block with “I feel” or “in my opinion” and the snotty factor decreases. No need for patronizing allusions to national concerns to which one could rightly respond, “Well, YOU thought THIS was important enough to comment on!”

    I understand the “needs of the many” philosophy, whether one attributes such to Dickens or Spock. A utilitarian structure housing multiple residents in prestigiously-priced “luxury” unalterable spaces will be quite useful if the oil prices rebound. Houston cannot build enough of these to satisfy anyone, it seems. Not everyone enjoys remnants of history as a part of the city’s architectural fabric, and I respect that opinion. I also understand that there are those who consider Megan Fox and Kristen Stewart to be phenomenally-talented actors. Forgive me should I find it tragic if they hold that notion simply because they have never seen the likes of Bette Davis or Vivien Leigh.

  • So sad. I am so glad I finally left Houston again. At least this time I know I really can never go home again. What other city in the world would tear down a mansion to build what is certainly going to be more eyesore apartments?