Emergency Demo: The Savoy Hotel’s Final Weekend Stay Downtown

Houston’s first-ever highrise apartment building will be demolished next Friday, September 25th, a spokesman for the Houston Police Department announced today. Neighborhood Protection inspectors have determined that structural problems with the vacant-and-crumbling 1906 Savoy Apartments building (later the Savoy Hotel) require it to be taken down as quickly as possible. The Houston Press‘s Craig Malisow reports:

[HPD’s Mark Curran] said the police have had difficulty contacting the owner, who is currently in Lebanon. (Curran didn’t remember his name off-hand, but a 2007 Press story identified him as Michael Nassif). The owner has 10 days to file an appeal, Curran said.

The nearby Metro line will need to be closed during the demolition — hopefully not longer than Friday-Sunday, Curran said.

Curran also said that the building would be guarded continuously until it is torn down.

The original Savoy Houston’s first public building to have electricity. Not included in the demolition order: the building next door with the big Savoy Houston sign on top. After that portion was built in 1961, the entire complex was operated as the Savoy-Field Hotel.

Photo of 1906 Savoy Apartments, in front of 1961 Savoy-Field Hotel: Flickr user oooch2

23 Comment

  • From the height of glamour & style to an imploded pile of busted bricks, another one bites the dust!

  • I was really looking forward to witness the demolition. Thanks for posting a time… NOT!!

  • Hang in there, we’ll find out… check out HairBalls. Probably very early next Sat. morning, the 25th.

  • Interesting how the city all of a sudden is concerned with all these old historic buildings endangering the public. First Wilshire Village. Now the Savoy.

    Apparently there is a second exterior that was added at some point which is what is cracked and from which some bricks have fallen although I guess I’ve been lucky since I walk by it all the time and haven’t had to deal with falling bricks. The original exterior, along with the interior, may be just fine. But, what the hell, you know? Someone wants the building torn down so we will just tear it down.

    Something fishy about this. But then of late anything involving the city is fishy.

  • Matt, I’m generally with you on not tearing the old stuff down. But the interior of this building is not fine. All seven floors have completely collapsed internally (as could be seen on some of the helicopter shots last night through the large open hole in the roof). I’m surprised that it’s taken this long for the city to act on it, it’s been on the verge of coming down on it’s own for years.

  • The owner is a slumlord of epic proportions. And even though the exterior bracing was added a while back, the building is so decimated that any realistic salvation could have only happened shortly thereafter it was added. And I surely thought it was a goner during Ike.

    Bricks have been falling off the building for years – someone must have been hurt this time around for this “emergency action” to take place.

    And here’s a picture of the interior:

  • I didn’t realize the interior was gone. I guess there isn’t much to tear down at this point.

    If bricks have been falling for years, however, I do have to wonder, again, why all of a sudden the city is taking action.

    Something is still fishy. Sorry.

  • I agree with you Matt. Something is missing from this story. Houston can’t save a damned thing, but it can demo a building with lightning speed.

  • Common people. That bldg has been an unmaintained dump for decades. It should have been demolished many years ago. The something fishy is that it has taken the city so long to require it’s demolition.

    If there had been reasonably prudent maintenance of the structure over time, it might be worth preserving. But there wasn’t. Attention should be given to something worth saving. This wasn’t. One thing that should be more scrutinized in Houston (and many other locales) are slumlords. How many of you have either lived or worked next door to a structure controlled by a slumlord?

  • Looking at the photos, there is a crack running up the east side of the building top to bottom connected by windows. That whole part of the building is about to literally peel off and into the street in a giant cascade of bricks. Given that it’s so close to a major thoroughfare, there would bound to be persons in the vicinity. Whether the city should have acted sooner is moot, they’re doing it now. I love old stuff too, but the time to realistically save it passed long ago.

  • I went by a couple weeks ago and those cracks in the walls look bad to me. I’m an amateur, but this one looks beyond repair.

    As for timing, it is fishy. But maybe the city learned the owner is unreachable for the next 10 days and took the opportunity to raze it before he can stop them…

  • Wow. if you have never seen a multi-story demolition live it is well worth it! stay upwind and bring a dust mask or bandana. the smell is something to behold as well!! at 100 years old, she will be a “Smeller” for sure!

  • Lightning Speed! The building has been empty and decaying for decades. Which part of that sounds like lightning speed? Remember, just because its just hitting the news now does not mean that the City have not been trying to get the landlord to repair or demolish himself in advance.

  • If THIS building is finally coming down, can the Reverend Moon/Days Inn be far behind? How about a twofer??? Id pay to see THAT eyesore removed from the skyline!!

  • What might become of the newer (60s) Savoy building? It seems like it’s in decent shape.

  • It would be a shame if they decide to implode it and there was a minor miscalculation or serendipitous breeze which sent it plowing into it’s abandoned neighbor on the way down.

  • There are some interesting posts by someone named ‘SquatterKid’ on the HAIF website (Houston Crater Alliance section) regarding the Savoy Hotel, both the original ‘antique’ building and the 1961 version. His goal seemed to be to stay in abandonments all over the U.S. and the Savoy was one of them. He actually
    ‘lived’ undetected by police or security in the newer building for 3 months, so he claimed, and dragged old mattresses he found into one room and dubbed it the “bouncey room” complete with photos to show his work. He also shot some spectacular photos of downtown from the roof of the newer hotel. But his more interesting posts and pics involved the older building and his adventures there. He said that the lobby of the old hotel had a working telephone on the check-in counter (he provided a photo of a single, old black residential-style telephone sitting on the counter) that would ring occasionally, which he said he answered. People were still calling to inquire about room availability. If his posts are still available on HAIF, it makes for an interesting read. I think he was from the San Francisco area.

  • Just spoke with Cherry. They will start tearing down the building tonight (Friday, October 2, 2009) at 7:00pm. It will not be imploded (as hoped!)

  • As hoped? Even dismantling it as they are, there is still an issue with regard to the amount of asbestos which would have been a major issue in an implosion. I would not want to be anywhere near the site or even “downwind” until all the dust has settled. Doesn’t take much asbestos to cause mesothelioma.

  • I stopped by around midnight-12:30 last night after the Decemberists concert at HoB. A few folks standing around speculating, and small groups of workers scutling about. No one seemed to know exactly what the agenda was, but the building was brightly lit, which was kinda surreal, and there was a crane nibbling at the northwest corner. I was hoping they would have a wrecking ball!

  • I was across the street watching the tear down on and off for the 3rd day. They had a little trouble with the elevator shaft and the chimneys. Apparently the building was built pretty solid…2 foot thick brick walls. Yesterday they etched part of the bricks in the back and about half the building came down all at once by itself, rattling the ground and putting up a huge dust cloud. Part of the fire escape fell on the parking garage next door though.

  • I hope the fire escape didn’t damage the garage too much. I have been wanting to get down there and take a picture of the stalactites that have formed from years of dripping water. I am not kidding. I will gladly post the pictures if I can still get them. They are roughly 8″ long – like icicles!