Ever notice that the Wheeler-Ave. side of the Midtown Sears (shown above) doesnâ€™t quite jibe with the rest of the building? Itâ€™s become even clearer since all that beige metal cladding was stripped off the structure earlier this year. Upon its removal, the biggest revelations were cascading green, red, and blue art-deco tile mosaics (shown here) running from top to bottom on every side of the building, except the Wheeler one, where the array of facade openings pictured at top are a bit less architecturally refined despite their prominent positions overlooking crosstown traffic.
So, what gives? Well, it turns out that Searsâ€™s south side wasnâ€™t all that visible when the building opened in 1939. Back then, Wheeler was just a narrow side street off Main and did not flow directly into Richmond as it does now, explains Preservation Houstonâ€™s Jim Parsons. Richmond, a much larger thoroughfare, also dead-ended into Main St., across from the Sears and just north of where Wheeler began. You can see the missed connection in the 1950 street map above.
It wasnâ€™t until the early 1960s that the 2 streets were joined through a partial annexation of the Delman Theater property at 4412 Main, catty-corner southwest of the Sears:
The ’30s-era cinema building stayed put for a few more decades with its strip retail neighbors a bit closer to the curb since Richmond now curved southeast into Wheeler.
Then Dallas-based Tivoli Realty demolished the Delman along with its adjacencies in 2002. (Covering the teardown, Nancy Sarnoff wrote that a late â€™80s stint hosting live performances had been the theater’s last hurrah. It sat unoccupied, she reported, for most of the following decade.)
Also a byproduct of the roadwork: Peggyâ€™s Point Plaza Park, the small fenced-in fountain and square at the northwest corner of Richmond and Main that’s become a popular homeless hangout:
A few more shots of the Sears building’s ornate west . . .
and north sides:
Hereâ€™s the Wheeler facade from afar:
And up close:
- Previously on Swamplot: Mapping the Midtown Innovation District That Doesn’t Exist Yet But Keeps Getting Bigger; Rice Picks Up 1.75 More Acres Near Wheeler Transit Center, Stripped-Down Sears;Â What the Midtown Sears Looks Like Almost Entirely Unwrapped; Shuttered Midtown Sears Now Shedding Its Full Metal Jacket; Midtown Sears Closure Nets Rice 9 Acres Near the Wheeler Transit Center
Map: Rand McNally via Houston Area Digital Archives. Photos of Sears: Adam Brackman (mosaics); Swamplox inbox (all others). Photos of Peggy’s Point Plaza Park: Denise W. Photos of Delman Theater: Predator [license] (color); bdeen [license] (black and white)