03/27/14 4:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: APPRECIATING THE DEAD FOLKS NEXT DOOR Home by the Graveyard“I used to live next to a cemetery, and it was a great neighbor. They never had any parties. They never left old mattresses by the curb. It never got ‘redeveloped’ into a Cane’s Greasepath. Many people, I suppose myself included, find them to be sylvan and contemplative, beautiful spaces. But I acknowledge that death is probably the #1 source of apprehension for the average person, so a symbol of our own looming mortality may not make the most comforting neighbor for many.” [Semper Fudge, commenting on The Axis Apartments Under Construction on West Dallas and Montrose Are on Fire Now] Illustration: Lulu

03/27/14 2:00pm

Axis Apartments, 2400 West Dallas St., North Montrose, Houston

Axis Apartments, 2400 West Dallas St., North Montrose, HoustonWhat do you say when the apartment complex you’re featured on teevee news complaining is being built too close to gravesites bursts into flames the very next day? “I don’t think anything I said was incendiary,” feng-shui expert and holistic-life-coaching grad student Trisha Keel tells Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg, the day after the 368-unit Axis Apartments burned to the ground. ”Although I’m a passionate person about this city,” she adds.

Keel, who runs a blog featuring feng-shui no-nos she encounters around town, had posted pics showing graves in the Magnolia Cemetery just steps away from north-facing ground-floor patios of the complex at 2400 West Dallas St. Among the dead: members of the Bammel, Wortham, and Halliburton families. “The dead are NOT good neighbors!” she wrote on her blog and Tumblr underneath the photo reproduced at top. “Their decaying energy feeds off your vital life force. Do not live among the dead.” Then she brought her complaints to the  mayor’s office to complain. And a reporter at TV station KHOU.

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Words That Burn
04/23/13 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BURY ME AT HOLE 18 “I’ll tell ya, country clubs and cemeteries [are the] biggest wasters of prime real estate. My partial solution: Combine the two! All you have to do is build a couple of extra holes (a 20 or 21 hole golf course) so you can close a hole or two when a hole is ‘needed’ to welcome a new permanent resident. Markers (flush to the ground, of course) can double as distance markers. (‘It used to be an 8 iron from ole Ted to the green for me, but now it seems to be a 7′). Perpetual maintenance? No problem! Additional revenue for the facility? No doubt! Just remember where you heard it first.” [Al, commenting on Homebuilders Playing Through Old Katy Golf Course]

03/19/13 4:30pm

UNMARKED GRAVES UNCOVERED IN DICKINSON AFRICAN-AMERICAN CEMETERY Over the weekend, volunteers clearing brush and whacking weeds at the Magnolia Cemetery, the African-American cemetery between League City and Dickinson near FM 646 and Highway 3, found hundreds of unmarked graves that date back before the Emancipation Proclamation. Now, reports abc13′s Erik Barajas, the Galveston County Historical Commission is working to identify the graves as the cemetery seeks state designation and protection as a historic site: Pastor William H. King III of Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, behind which sits Magnolia Cemetery, tells Barajas: “‘There are slaves buried here. There are people from World War I, World War II, school teachers, people who worked in the community. . . . We want to make sure.’” [abc13] Photo: USGenWeb

12/05/12 9:54am

DYING TO GET INTO STATE PARKS Texas’s Parks and Wildlife Dept. is considering a novel way to expand parkland. Nothing’s carved in stone, but Ted Hollingsworth, director of land conservation, says that the department will continue to discuss with the Green Burial Council the possibility of “partnering with death service providers or funeral directors” to annex properties adjacent to existing state parks after they’ve been transformed into green burial sites: ”We wouldn’t own or manage the cemetery,” Hollingsworth tells teevee reporter Josh Hinkle, “but where people pay for [green] burials a certain part of that payment takes out that land, and pays for that land, that then does get added to the state park. . . . Makes more habitat for turkey, quail, deer, snakes, lizards. . . . Makes more room for trails, picnic areas, all of that. Where we have opportunities to add land, especially not at the cost of the taxpayers, we want to explore those.” Hinkle adds: ”However, [Hollingsworth] said bodies would not be near campsites — a relief for regulars like Dave and Kanita Riggle.” [KXAN] Photo of Huntsville State Park: Flickr user TX Diva

11/27/12 5:40pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: TOO DULL TO BE HAUNTED “As a former owner of a condo in Park Memorial (just a few feet south of the slab where the bones were found), I hate to break it to you hopeful readers, but there was not even remotely anything spooky or creepy that occurred on the grounds during the 5 years I lived there. There simply wasn’t anything going on . . . paranormal or otherwise. Sorry.” [Dave, commenting on Park Memorial Condos, New Apartments Built on Top of Old Rice Military Cemetery]

11/21/12 2:30pm

Spooked former residents looking for some sort of larger, more mystical explanation for the disastrous end of the Park Memorial Condos at 5292 Memorial Dr. now have confirmation of a first-class backstory to hang their storytelling hats on. A little late for Halloween, a medical examiner has determined that the human remains discovered this summer during the condos’ demolition — and the preparation of the site for its replacement, the Park Memorial Apartments — belong to bodies interred at a cemetery that once graced the site. That would be the Crooms Cemetery, Preservation Houston’s David Bush tells teevee reporter Deborah Wrigley. The African-American burial ground was named after Felix Crooms (who scored nearby Crooms St. as well), was in operation from approximately 1917 to 1937, and also served as the final resting place for members of St. Luke’s Missionary Baptist Church.

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08/02/12 12:52pm

If it’s, say, 1980, and you’re trying to get rid of a dead body, burying it at the foundation level of a brand-new condo complex going up over the reported site of an ancient cemetery might sound like a perfect after-offing disposal plan. But in Houston, you never know what’s going to get dug up next. HPD detective Carlos Cardenas tells Chronicle reporter Mike Glenn he doesn’t think the partial skeleton unearthed by construction workers yesterday on the site of the recently demolished Park Memorial Condominiums at 5292 Memorial Dr. (pictured above in a late stage of assisted decomposition) belongs to the native American graveyard reported to have existed there previously.

Forensic testing should give a clearer answer, but the circumstances of the body’s burial appear to tell a story on their own: The human remains were discovered along Chandler St. near Arnold, at the far northeastern corner of the complex, wedged between a retaining wall and a concrete slab that workers were taking out. The body was likely concealed there when the Park Memorial Condos were built, police detectives tell Glenn.

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11/03/11 12:53pm

Frequent Olivewood Cemetery visitor Roger Barnaby came across a disturbing discovery in the historic African-American cemetery south of White Oak Bayou between Heights Blvd. and Studemont not long before dark on Halloween: Survey markers and what look like new fenceposts, installed only a few inches from some marked graves. Barnaby tells Swamplot he’s not certain of the purpose of the posts, but believes they and the survey flags mark an intended expansion of the cemetery’s longtime neighbor to the south and east, grocery distributor Grocers Supply. “You can even see that they pounded a survey spike into one of the graves,” he notes:

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06/01/11 10:35pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: JUST CHECKING “As a member of the board of the College Park Cemetery Association and ‘head volunteer’ for the cemetery the past few years, I felt comfortable opening the new coffin at College Park on a visit yesterday. Unfortunately my hopes for a large cash donation towards the cemetery’s restoration were dashed when I found the box was empty.” [Randy Riepe, commenting on Caught on Camera: Mysterious Coffin, Out and About in North Montrose Cemetery; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Courtney Zubowski, KHOU 11 News

05/25/11 4:48pm

“What’s that photo — a coffin?” Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve got a casket problem in your neighborhood, you know now that reporting it to Swamplot will get you results. Yes, just minutes after Swamplot posted photos of the mysterious burial chamber that a reader found tanning itself on the grounds of the College Memorial Park Cemetery on West Dallas St., intrepid KHOU 11 News reporter Courtney Zubowski was live on the scene, ready to investigate. Of course, if you’re with a TV news team it certainly helps to have someone else — with maybe some eye protection — on hand to do any heavy, uh, coffin prying that might be necessary. (That’s KHOU photographer Gregg Ramirez hard on the case in Zubowski’s photo, above). You know, just in case something pops up unexpectedly.

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05/25/11 2:10pm

As promised, Swamplot’s original tipster sends in photos of the freelance coffin first spotted last night at the College Memorial Park Cemetery on West Dallas St. in North Montrose, a couple blocks northeast of the River Oaks Shopping Center. It’s likely been some time since this cemetery has seen a new burial. And yet — hello there! These photos are from this morning:

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05/25/11 8:23am

There’s no word — or any photos — back yet this morning from the tipster who reported spotting a coffin sitting out on the grounds of the normally dead-quiet College Memorial Park Cemetery on West Dallas near Gross St. late last afternoon. Is that . . . good news or bad news? In the meantime, a 10-point follow-up report has come in from another reader who wandered into the scene, camera in hand, as night fell — you know, just to check it out:

1) walked by late like 8:30
2) could only see 1/3rd the way in
3) couldn’t see a coffin
4) instead saw a light coming from in there (see photo [above] in middle on ground)
5) no fing way I’m going in there to check that out
6) see HPD hanging outside Juvie across the street
7) we check it out together (not that guns/tasers would help with zombies)

Zombies???

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05/24/11 7:03pm

ARE WE TALKIN’ NEW COFFIN — OR USED COFFIN? “I don’t want to panic anyone,” reports a longtime Swamplot reader and tipster who frequents the area by West Dallas and Gross St. “But there’s a coffin perched atop the ground over at College Memorial Park Cemetery. I was going to take a photo but I was too skeered. I suddenly turned into a terrified sixth grader at the sight of it.” What??? No photo? Our correspondent promises to send someone braver over with a camera — but “before it gets dark.” [Swamplot inbox; previously on Swamplot]