04/14/14 10:30am

Vacant Lot at 411 Lovett Blvd., Former Site of Bullock-City Federation Mansion, Montrose, Houston

Demolition of 411 Lovett Blvd., Avondale, Montrose, HoustonA bulletin board with a request for “comments” went up last week on the fence fronting the now-vacant site at 411 Lovett Blvd. in Avondale, where the 1906 Bullock–City Federation Mansion was torn down earlier this year (see photo at right). Yes, the metal fence along Lovett Blvd. is still standing. Passers-by have been adding their thoughts.


Suggestion Box
03/07/14 1:30pm

DEMOLITION OF HOUSTON’S FIRST CENTRAL-AC MANSION KEPT GOING, LONG INTO THE NIGHT Demolition of 411 Lovett Blvd., Avondale, Montrose, HoustonAs a “tribute” to the former Bullock–City Federation Mansion at 411 Lovett Blvd. demolished by an excavator last night, the hosts of a late-night show on KPFT — the radio station whose broadcast studio is next door — entertained listeners from 2 am to 5 am this morning with the recorded sounds of the 1906 structure being smashed to bits. No word on whether “Julia,” the ghost that according to this lengthy narrative has possibly inhabited the structure since at least the mid-1980s has in the meantime found a new home. [The Chestnut Tree; Dreamcraft; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

03/06/14 10:00am

Demolition of Bullock-City Federation Mansion, 411 Lovett St., Avondale, Montrose, Houston

If you’re listening to KPFT this morning and are wondering what those crashing sounds are in the background, it’s just an excavator ripping chunks out of the 1906 Bullock–City Federation Mansion next door to the radio station’s studios, at 411 Lovett Blvd. Demolition permits for the recently renovated 8,000-sq.-ft. structure and a separate building in back were granted by the city on Monday. That night, a reader reported to Swamplot that workers were removing windows, mouldings, doors, a mailbox, and flooring late into the evening. But hardcore exterior demo work appears to have begun yesterday afternoon.

The former wedding and event venue turned high-tech office building (with a complete renovation completed in 2005) was recently sold to developers who are reportedly planning to build townhomes on the three-quarters-of-an-acre site at the corner of Taft and Lovett Blvd. Its previous owners touted the structure as the first Houston building ever to have central air conditioning. (It was retrofitted with custom iron ceiling medallions that served as AC vents and chandelier mounts in 1926.)

These photos were taken by a reader around 7:30 this morning:


Making History of Air Conditioning History
02/28/14 4:45pm

Bullock Mansion, 411 Lovett Blvd. at Taft St., Avondale, Montrose, Houston

Bullock Mansion, 411 Lovett Blvd. at Taft St., Avondale, Montrose, HoustonReaders are reporting to Swamplot that the end appears nigh for the 1906 Bullock-City Federation Mansion at 411 Lovett Blvd. in Montrose. Salvage and demolition crews have been at work there for much of the week, removing wood floors and gutting other pieces from the fancy interior. Portions of the garden (see photo at left) have been torn up to disconnect sewer lines. The new owners have reportedly said they have plans to build townhomes on the site once the existing building is demolished.


Restored 2005, Demolished 2014
04/10/13 4:10pm

Why did Tejas Boots leave 208 Westheimer? Owner Mike Kuykendahl says that the family that owns the li’l strip center (above) that Tejas Boots shared with Hollywood Food & Cigars asked them to: The family gave the tenants 2 months to move, explaining that they’re considering upgrading the 4,100-sq.-ft. building, says Kuykendahl, or tearing it down and redeveloping that corner of Helen and Westheimer. Tejas Boots had been here since 1984; they’ve relocated just a few blocks west into the browner, newer retail strip stack shown at right at 415 Westheimer. It’s not much as signs go, but that faint horizontal smudge beneath the Green Park Pilates logo marks the spot where the bootmakers can now be found.

Photos: Allyn West

04/05/13 11:30am

This photo of the strip center just west of the Lower Westheimer restaurant row shows the recently closed Tejas Custom Boots and Hollywood Food & Cigars. A Swamplot reader says that a sign posted in the window here at Helen and 208 Westheimer says that the alligator- and ostrich-unfriendly bootmakers will be moving the stretching and stitching operations farther west to the 400 block of Westheimer. As of Friday morning, calls to Tejas Custom Boots for comment about the relocation and reopening haven’t been returned. City records show that the 4,100-sq.-ft. 1960 building and 11,322-sq.-ft. property are owned by a single family.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

12/03/12 12:17pm

The asking price of a property in the Avondale (West) Historic District has been dropping $500 per day since its latest relisting on Thanksgiving Day. A pre-holiday hiatus had capped a 2-year sales effort at several price points by various agents and agencies. The 1910 home and grounds are described as part of the estate of Ross Sterling, a former governor of Texas (1931-32) and founder of Humble Oil, which later became the far humbler ExxonMobil.


10/22/10 5:24pm

The 31-year-old man who lived in unit 2 of this fourplex at 601 Fairview in Montrose apparently didn’t get out much; at the moment he’s being evaluated at the Harris County Mental Health Service Center. The body of his 66-year-old mother, Abigail Saucedo, was discovered in the apartment yesterday morning; it will soon undergo an autopsy. The wafting odor of her decomposing corpse had been noted even across the street — at the original Barnaby’s Cafe, where patio diners over the weekend couldn’t quite place that curious smell. Ultimately, a neighboring tenant found the unidentified stench too much to bear, and called the police. The tenant at No. 2, who had been living in the property for 8 months, at first told the cops that the smell was probably from a dead animal underneath the property, and that he didn’t want to let them in to check out his place because it might disturb his mother, who was not feeling well. Earlier, he’d turned away the property manager with a similar excuse — that his mother was asleep and he didn’t want to wake her.


10/21/10 3:14pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: FUNNY, THAT’S NOT HOW DOCTOR GALE’S MEATLOAF AT BARNABY’S USUALLY SMELLS “I was around there last weekend and ate outside. I smelled the odd waft from time to time but couldn’t place it. This is so much more disturbing now that I know what it was.” [eiioi, commenting on Oh, That’s Just Mom]

10/21/10 1:21pm

OH, THAT’S JUST MOM What was that awful stench emanating from the fourplex at 601 Fairview in Montrose, directly across the street from the original Barnaby’s Cafe? The rotting corpse of a tenant’s mother, it turns out: Wayne Donawho, who took over management of the property in August, tells Houston Press reporter Richard Connelly he had trouble investigating complaints because the tenant of the apartment where the smell seemed to be coming from told him his mom was sleeping and that he didn’t want to disturb her. And yes, that’s what the tenant told the cops this morning, too — before they got inside and found the decomposing body. “I don’t know if she died and he was keeping her to get a Social Security check or what — the police are there now looking at everything,” Donawho tells Connelly, and adds: “I always thought he was just a little weird, but I never thought it would turn into something like this.” [Hair Balls]

09/20/10 11:29pm

Got a question about something going on in your neighborhood you’d like Swamplot to answer? Sorry, we can’t help you. But if you ask real nice and include a photo or 2 with your request, maybe the Swamplot Street Sleuths can! Who are they? Other readers, just like you, ready to demonstrate their mad skillz in hunting down stuff like this:

Answers — of a sort — to your questions-about-town:

  • Southwest Freeway: More than a week after our source noted the problem, that dangling loop of fiber-optic lighting gone dim is still taped to a cable (see photos above) on the Dunlavy St. bridge. TxDOT, the agency in charge of the lights, has swooped in to fix problems with the lights sporadically since at least 2004. But the situation has apparently accelerated to the late-drooping stage. What’s next? Are they just gonna leave us hanging?
  • North Montrose: Pat Wente finds the source of the Regent-Square area jackhammering: demolition of a slab leftover from the Allen House demo on West Dallas (see photo below). And hears Bernard’s somewhat blunt though unofficial assessment of the prognosis for construction on the giant mixed-use project:


09/15/10 12:51pm

Got an answer to one of these reader questions? Or just want to be a sleuth for Swamplot? Here’s your chance! Add your report in a comment, or send a note to our tipline.

  • Southwest Freeway: Driving over the Dunlavy Bridge, a reader spots a loop of fiber-optic lighting cable hanging off the southern end of the structure. Later the same afternoon, the reader snaps these photos, showing that someone had taped the loose strand to one of the bridge cables: “When the bridges over this part of 59 opened a few years back, the lighting was pretty cool, but I don’t think it has worked for a while. Friends and I have wondered who is supposed to be responsible for keeping this up — think one of your readers might know?”
  • North Montrose: Jackhammers have been thrumming for the last couple mornings on West Dallas, reader Pat Wente reports. And she wonders if it might have something to do with Regent Square: “Anybody know of any official new start dates or plans on this long-delayed project?”

And then there’s this little item:


02/18/10 1:28pm

Vespa-riding Montrosian Brittanie Holland is curious about two retail buildings in her ’hood recently dressed up for lease:

We live in the northeast part of the Montrose. I was sad when the Hyde Park Supermarket shut down (across from Ziggy’s on Taft and Fairview) because they sold St. Arnold’s and Mexican Coke and were within walking distance. Plus the Pakistani (?) guys who worked there were so nice and knew me by name. Back when Ziggy’s was BYOB having the store there was, well, convenient.

The building has been vacant since summer but over the past few months workers have painstakingly removed all the original brick, refurbished the structure and the rebricked it with most of the original brick. It’s kind of an interesting mid-century building — it looks like it might once have been a garage, and there is a sign for business lease outside but I can’t believe the owners would do all that refurbishing without a [tenant] in mind. This is right down the street from Boheme and the new Deans, and has ample parking, so maybe they’re hoping to draw some similar high-brow ventures? Is Midtown continuing it’s fast encroachment on my filthy Montrose? (We’ll always have Lola’s. Hopefully.)

The other building probably needed a much more extensive cleaning:


08/31/09 2:18pm

“Looks like someone’s getting ready to build,” reports a Swamplot reader about this lot on the corner of Westheimer and Helena, at the very lowest end of Lower Westheimer:

All of the brown earth you see in the photo was formerly a tree or bush of some type. See the steel gate I’m taking the picture through? Just on the other side of it (about 3 yards from the steel gate), there was a chain link fence that provided shade, shelter and ‘hideability’ to local bums. If I had taken that photo the day before, you would have seen a lot of brush, bums and beer cans.

Even the bushes in the ‘sidewalk’ area (the sidewalk stops at this lot) were removed.

It could just be a beautification or bum-preventative project, but due to the midtown/downtown/Montrose location, I’m guessing that someone plans to construct a business there.

Photo: Swamplot inbox