The ongoing saga of theÂ Allen’s Landing trees coming downÂ recently in bits and pieces — apparently the handiwork of an elusive Buffalo Bayou beaver or 2 — has come to a likely end with the non-rodent-assisted removal of the final stumps, Swamplot’s semi-regularÂ Franklin St. correspondent and wildlifeÂ tipster notes. But life around the White Oak-BuffaloÂ confluence goes on! Spring is here, which means the ducksÂ have beenÂ out and about, while the cranes are busyÂ pulling fledgling parking garage superstructures up into the air:
More splinters and shredded bark are the latest cluesÂ turned up byÂ Allen’s Landing beaver scrutinizerÂ Christine Wilson. The most recent denudation (shown above) occurred off the park’s walking trail, not far from the aftermath of the last rodent-related incident Wilson documented, just east of the Travis and MilamÂ street bridges over Buffalo Bayou. Another shot from over the weekend provides a wider view of the increasingly sparsely-forested bank: CONTINUE READING THIS STORY
Urban wildlife cellphone videographer Christine Wilson sends some footage captured from Allen’s Landing documenting the eons-oldÂ nature vs. civilization struggle,Â which played out earlier this week in the form of tiny ducksÂ dodging theirÂ way through the floating trash fieldÂ where White OakÂ and Buffalo bayous join up. WilsonÂ caught sight (and sound)Â of aÂ duck and 4 ducklings struggling acrossÂ the White Oak outflow toward the Buffalo side of the confluence, which she notes is significantly less debris-spangled. That’s the Harris County Jail in the background for most of the shot, across White Oak from the main building of the University of Houston Downtown. (The footage cuts out mid-scene, but Wilson says the ducks did eventually make it across.)
To capÂ off a series of Houston-landmark-linked performancesÂ carried out over the past few years, Karen Stoke’s dance company will put on bayou-and-space-themedÂ DEEP: Seaspace at Hobby Center the weekend after next (that’s October 20th through 22nd). Stokes, whose previous work includes thatÂ well-timed dance about flooding in Discovery Green right after Memorial Day last year, tells Swamplot she has been mulling over appropriately grandÂ Ship Channel choreographies since at leastÂ 2003, when she cutÂ a related section fromÂ her piece HometownÂ with plansÂ to tackle the topic later in greater depth.
On the list of historical places given a nod in the choreography (or in the short filmÂ to be shown during the live performance): Ship-Channel-side spotsÂ likeÂ the site of Santa Anna’s capture near the San Jacinto battlegrounds (the historical marker for which is locatedÂ along Federal Rd. where the Washburn Tunnel crosses under the waterway);Â Allen’s Landing in Downtown;Â andÂ the area around the former Willow St. Pump Station (just north ofÂ where White Oak Bayou meets Buffalo, byÂ the Harris County Jail)Â — that spotÂ isÂ shown below, with dancers placed for atmosphere:
It’s that time again — Houston’s birthday celebration,Â observed traditionally on the anniversary of the publication of the Allen brothers’ newspaper ads offering land for sale in the area in 1836. Among the moreÂ eyebrow-worthyÂ claimsÂ put forward by the founders: that the “beautifully-elevated”Â areaÂ (depictedÂ nestled amid a clutch of towering hills) wasÂ already the site of regularÂ steamboat traffic (the Laura wouldn’t make the first steamboat runÂ up the sandy twists of Buffalo Bayou to Allen’s Landing until the following year), and that the area “[enjoys]Â the sea breeze in all its freshness” and isÂ “well-watered” (that part, at least, is likelyÂ undisputed).
The ad text also claims that “Nature appears to have designated this place for the future seat of Government,” though Lisa Gray suggests this morningÂ that a few well-timed gifts to members of the newly-minted Texas Legislature may have been responsible as well. Gray writes that the city hosted the Texas government from 1837 until the legislators, tired of the heat and mosquitoes, voted to move elsewhere in 1839.
Here’s the ad in its entirety, as it appeared 180 years ago today in the Telegraph and Texas Register:
A charrette will be held at 9AM tomorrow for anyone interested in entering the design competition for the American Institute of Architects’sÂ new Houston chapter headquarters, to be located atÂ 900 Commerce St. across from Spaghetti Warehouse. Â After being outbid on the blue mod Christian Science church on Main St.Â back in January, AIA and Architecture Center Houston are instead purchasing around 8,000 sq. ft. of space in the 1906 B.A. Reisner building, adjacent to the storiedÂ Bayou LoftsÂ occupying much ofÂ the block.Â Part 1 of theÂ competition willÂ solicit ideas only for the 5,400-sq.-ft. storefront, 2,200-sq.-ft. boiler room, and some connections between the spaces;Â teams making it to roundÂ 2 will win a bit of cash and be asked to create detailed designs for the storefront and the building’s facade.
The view of the Reisner building aboveÂ wasÂ snappedÂ from Commerce looking south; below is aÂ black-and-white shot of the building from further east across Travis, taken back in the days of itsÂ early-1900s employment by Southern Rice Products Company:
The no-longer-see-through structure is back to limiting the view from the Harris County Jail across the bayou (visible on the far right, above). A set of stairs are in place alongside the new cistern, along with railings around what appears to be the planned rooftop terrace.
When Houston First and the Buffalo Bayou Partnership announced the complete redo of the former Sunset Coffee building (also known as the International Coffee Company building) at Allen’s Landing last year, they meant it: This pic posted to the Houston First Facebook page doesn’t make it look like there’s a whole lot left — beyond columns and floors — of the 1910 structure parked off Commerce St. between Main and Fannin, but it does allow better glimpses of the Harris County Jail across the bayou through the cleared-out floors.
Following a design from San Antonio architects Lake Flato, the $2.5 million renovation project is scheduled to be complete a year from now. The finished structure will include canoe and kayak rental space on the ground floor facing the bayou and office and event space above. Here’s a rendering of the same from-the-bayou view:
THE SWEET SMELL OF HOUSTON HISTORY Embarking on a tour of Houston by means of a “site-specific narrative” created by 3 artists as part of the Mitchell Center for the Arts’ first CounterCurrent Festival earlier this month, critic Betsy Huete picks up her “survival pack” of a bottle of water, a Metro day pass, a phone charger, and a bottle of Purell hand sanitizer enclosed in a koozie, and heads to the first stop: Allen’s Landing. There she encounters one of the artists, Lacy M. Johnson: “Johnson suggested I begin reading the essays accompanying The Invisible City, a series of writings tied to specific coordinates within the city of Houston. I would have to read each excerpt at each location to fully understand the work. The writing tied to Allenâ€™s Landing was a brief recalling of Houstonâ€™s history, starting with its birth as a settlement at Allenâ€™s Landing and, eventually, a meditation on the cityâ€™s rabid desire to erase itself and rebuild, leaving a palimpsest of memory and history. As I descended the stairs overlooking the bayouâ€™s lush greenery on that crisp spring morning, with an erect corporate sky line as backdrop to errant clothes and shards of glass, with the stink of urine-saturated concrete pervading my nostrils, Johnsonâ€™s statement could not have rung more true. It was beautiful.” [Glasstire] Photo:Â Scott EhardtÂ [license]
The same architecture firm that transformed Wilshire Village into the H-E-B Montrose Market across town has been pegged to redo 1910Â International Coffee Company Building (aka Sunset Coffee Building), resuscitating the derelict shell on Allen’s Landing into use as a Downtown tourist attraction andÂ kayak rental shop. San Antonio firm Lake Flato submitted this drawing of the building at the coffee-with-cream-colored confluence of White Oak and Buffalo Bayou underneath Main and Fannin to Buffalo Bayou Partnership, whichÂ plans to begin the project in April.