Melted Witch’s Hat Reforms, Will Shelter Old Sixth Ward’s Humans and Their Little Dogs, Too

Witch Hat Installation at Park for Humans and Dogs

Park for Humans & Dogs, Sawyer St., Sawyer Heights, 77007If the top of that pointy gazebo currently camped out at the about-to-open Park for Humans and Dogs by Glenwood Cemetery looks familiar, it’s because it’s been lurking around the Houston landscape for the last 115 years or so. This morning Susie Tommaney inventories the history and internet lore surrounding the house at 2201 Fannin St., from which a cupola nicknamed the Witch’s Hat was plucked just before the home’s 1997 demolition. “Not many people realize that the cupola was saved,” TIRZ 13 chair Claude Anello tells Swamplot, sending along the photo above of the hat’s installation, as well as his account of the hat’s rediscovery, reshaping, and ground-up career-building:

“I got a call a few years ago from Carl Detering, who had stored it in his outdoor storage yard at Detering’s on Washington. He was selling the property and told me that someone needed to get it or he would be forced to throw it in the dumpster. When I went to look at it, it had basically melted, [and] a tree had grown up through the middle of it (removed prior to photos) . . . Several people told us that it was beyond repair, but we dismantled it, had it reconstructed, and designed the park around it. It sat on the ground for a couple of years while we dealt with issues related to park design and permitting.”

Here’s a few tree-free glamour shots of the Hat prior to those reconstructive procedures, circa late 2013:


Witch Hat, circa December 2013

Witch Hat, circa December 2013

The park opens officially next Saturday; Tommaney reports that the next-door 2411 Washington apartments have adopted the space and will maintain it.

Park for Humans & Dogs, Sawyer St., Sawyer Heights, 77007

Photos: Claude B. Anello (top, 3rd, 4th), Courtney Pfleger (2nd, 5th)

Sawyer St. Comeback

10 Comment

  • This is interesting. I watched this “witch hat” being built from my balcony at the apartment next door. All new wood was used. This is an identical replica at best – not from historic wood and not exactly “saved”.

  • Did TIRZ 13 pay for this park and the “witch hat” located in it? I wonder what it cost to “save” it relative to what it would have cost to install something that actually looks good and is a bit more functional (looks like 4 adults can fit comfortably underneath this behemoth). Just another example of our tax dollars likely being squandered on novelty/pet projects of TIRZ board members.

  • This post has some of the wrong details. The turret roof was purchased by several Old Sixth Ward residents from Cary Pasternak, who salvaged the turret. Since there was no room to store the turret in any of the tiny Old Sixth Ward backyards, Carl Detering graciously offered to store the turret in his brickyard. There has been several unsuccessful efforts by Old Sixth Ward residents to have the turret brought to the neighborhood over the last two decades. When the time came for Mr Detering to sell his brickyard, he contacted the former president of the Old Sixth Ward Neighborhood Association, who therefore referred him to Claude Anello, the chair of the Old Sixth Ward TIRZ, knowing that TIRZ was the best option to finance the relocation/restoration of the turret roof.

  • The story omits the true savior of this splendid artifact: Cary Pasternak, the late owner of The Empirium Architectual Store on Morse @ Westheimer. Cary rescued the ‘hat’ when the house was demolished. Anyone who shopped there could see it resting there for years until Cary moved to California.

  • This is sort of akin to wooden Shinto temples in Japan. They are torn down and rebuilt exactly as they were every 20 years or so. So you can visit a temple that was founded 500 years ago, but the structure is less than 20 years old.

  • It’s the Witch Hat of Theseus!

  • Jay,
    The turret roof did not even last a week at Cary’s shop. It was quickly transported to Carl Detering’s brickyard after several Old Sixth Ward residents purchased it from Cary. I even have the processed check that was used to pay for it. Additionally, there is a photograph of the transport from the shop to the brickyard taken in 1998, within weeks after the demolition.

  • Skeptic, I don’t know if you ever drive by the park, but I do and it’s not easy to tell from the photos here that the space of the park is very small, the little gazebo looks perfect in context. It’s not quite finished yet, maybe they’ll add some benches outside the “hat”. It’s definitely an improvement over the empty lot that was there before.

  • It’s missing the very tall pointy spire that used to be at the top. :-(

    I remember what a pity it was when this house was torn down especially since it was so that the owner’s could expand their so-called “gym” next door, which was really just a sleazy bathhouse for men to cruise and have anonymous sex.