At 2020 Hardy St., this building dates to 1900. Previous owners the Espinosa family managed rental properties from here; it’s also been home to the Monte Carlo Lounge and pool hall and a grocery. The 5,000-sq.-ft. building, lying about 2 miles north of Downtown in the Fifth Ward, was bought in early January by 2011 Good Brick Award winners David and Bennie Flores Ansell, who have spent the past month sweeping and clearing out the interior — which came to them unbidden with cases of unopened tostadas, garbage bags of discarded mail, shelves stocked with ’80s perfume, sunglasses, and self-help videos, broken billiards trophies with tattered replica baize, etc. They hope to have the building transformed into offices and apartments by this summer.
Preservation Houston recognized the couple for their “sympathetic addition” to their Old Sixth Ward home. On that renovation they worked with Shipping Container Whisperer Joe Meppelink, who, the couple says, will help make sure things proceed according to code here. The interior of the building’s been home over the years to squatters and termites. Water damage has ruined much of the ceiling Sheetrock.
The ground floor is now subdivided into two spaces: the door on the right beneath the fire escape in the photo above leads to what used to be the bar, where a chrome-plated cooler is still stocked with cases of Bud Light. (It’s not cold, alas.) The door on the far left leads to a defunct general store; Bennie has begun rearranging some of those aforementioned curious geegaws in advance of a kind of rummage sale. The couple hasn’t decided whether they’ll knock down the non-load-bearing wall splitting the space in two. Below: the original chain-link fence has been rendered rather wobbly by weeds and trash trees; it will come down once an permanent exterior fence is finished.
Below: a shed was cleared away from the side yard; if you look into the foreground you can make out a concrete base where a support beam was attached; the yard will serve as a shared outdoor space for tenants with a vegetable garden:
The back of the building, with views of the upstairs apartment windows:
The side of the building, looking south from Noble St.; the madras-like colors of the brick suggest prior additions to the original building.
Photos: Allyn West