02/19/15 2:00pm

OUTLASTING THE HOUSE OF SATAN DOWN THE STREET 903 Welch St., Montrose, HoustonWhen you live in the same house at the corner of Welch and Crocker streets for 94 years, you see a lot of Montrose pass by. For example, Nell Stewart tells the Montrose District website, there was the “meticulously restored” Victorian on Welch St. (pictured here) that later became a Church of Satan: “‘How do I know?’ she asks. ‘It said so on a sign in the yard.’ Though raised a proper churchgoer, Stewart nevertheless was intrigued by her new neighbor. ‘He did nude weddings,‘ she says. “And he trained his children well. They went to Wharton Elementary and they would threaten the other kids if they wouldn’t give them their lunch money. They said they would turn them into black cats.’ Along the wraparound front porch, the Satanist installed a collection of outsized nude photos. The Satanist had moved in prior to her mother’s passing, and though Stewart would have liked to take a look at the nudes, when she went out walking with her elderly mother she was always steered in the opposite direction. ‘She refused to walk there,’ Stewart says. ‘I would have been interested. I just had the sense, this is not my world here.’” Though it later turned somewhat dilapidated, the house was recently renovated: “Today, when Stewart looks across the street, the house appears much as it did when she was a little girl almost a hundred years ago.” [Montrose District; Part 1] Photo of 903 Welch St. (before renovation): NuHabitat

05/21/14 5:15pm

Tree in front of 501 W. Drew St. at Whitney, East Montrose, Houston

Tree in front of 501 W. Drew St. at Whitney, East Montrose, HoustonUpdate, 5/22: Swamplot has now confirmed that the tree was a Chinese Tallow, not an oak, as neighbors, and Swamplot, had originally reported.

Oh, those East Montrosians and their continuing tree battles. Here’s a photo of the street tree that once stood in more more leafly fashion in front of the property at 501 W. Drew St. The gentle warning tape wrapped around it appears not to have made much difference to the chainsaw operators who cut off its limbs last week, though. Had the tape been attached by a tree-hugging neighbor? Not exactly:


The Giving Up Tree
12/12/13 11:15am

Tree and Home, 1704 Blodgett St., Museum Park, HoustonThe city has extracted $225,000 from the owners and contractors of a Bellaire developer who extracted two 100-year-old Live Oak trees from public property adjacent to 2 separate Inner Loop redevelopment sites over the summer. That’s a little less than half of the amount the city originally sought. The settlement ends the lawsuit it filed in October against Signature City Homes owner Barry Gomel and the demo contractor he hired to remove the 36-inch-diameter specimen pictured above at 1704 Blodgett St. (the home was torn down in July); it’ll also allow the developer to proceed with construction of the 4-townhome development it had planned for that location. The second tree was next to a bungalow Signature demolished at 801 Bomar.

Photo: Allyn West

When Trees Get in the Way
11/25/13 4:30pm



Is the weight of the holiday season and its accompanying festoonage taking a toll on this updated 1929 home in East Montrose? Or was the polished-up property just under a lot of pressure (top) during its listing photo-op? The 3-bedroom, 2-and-a-half-bath property popped up on the market Sunday with a straight-up $840,000 price tag.


Decked Halls
11/12/12 1:43pm

Also making
an appearance in this morning’s Demolition Report: the crumbs of East Montrose’s short-lived but storied MuffinMan restaurant. Back in the wacky late summer of ’10, the four-square-turned-duplex at 2310 Converse St. played host to what proprietor Jason Perry modestly claimed to be “the greatest penis shaped muffin restaurant Houston had” (Note: Perry’s description referenced the shape of the muffins, not of the building or its rooms; a 6-ft. sign he posted on the front lawn announced to his neighbors his earnest contention that a “four inch muffin is better than an eight inch cock.”)


09/14/12 1:17pm

KNOCKING THE TREES AROUND PEGGY SHIFFICK PARK The duplex at 720 Bomar St. adjacent to East Montrose’s tiny Peggy Shiffick Park is back on the market, a week and a half after its prospective purchaser, developer Vinod Ramani of Urban Living, scaled back his plans to build 3 townhomes on the site (pictured at left) to just 2, and just a few days after backing out of the deal altogether. Some neighbors concerned the planned 3-1/2-story townhomes would clip a large portion of the branches and roots of the park’s signature oak tree had opposed 2 variance requests Ramani had submitted for the project. In the meantime, both Urban Living and neighborhood groups were alarmed to discover that city-contracted workers had severed the main roots of large trees on the property at the corner of Bomar and Crocker earlier this month while installing sewer-line connections. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Image: Urban Living

07/24/12 2:42pm

Those are some pretty hefty tree branches cutting across the front of the duplex listed for sale at 720 Bomar St. in East Montrose. And they’re from a pretty hefty tree — a giant oak that sits on the next lot over, a 3,500-sq.-ft. plot now known as Peggy Shiffick Park. A “for sale” sign appeared in the duplex’s front yard a few weeks ago, a reader tells Swamplot. “Rumors then started flying that the property had been bought, before it went in to the MLS system, by a builder (it is now pending in MLS) and that the existing grand old home on the property, which had been converted to a duplex and has been empty for years, will be torn down and townhomes built.”


01/31/12 11:43am

Do you remember the MuffinMan? Or maybe you’ve been trying hard to forget it? Well, the home of “the greatest penis shaped muffin restaurant Houston [ever?] had” — aka the yellow 1940 American foursquare at 2310 Converse St. just north of Fairview — is now in foreclosure and was listed for sale last week. Sadly, the listing photos show almost no signs of those few whirlwind months in the fall of 2010 when would-be restaurateur Jason Perry operated a notable Montrose after-hours spot on the premises — without bothering to obtain any of the necessary city or state permits. No signs, that is, except for that painted “Muffin Man” insignia still emblazoned on the front of the home’s upper story.


07/18/11 11:08am

PEDEN WATER MYSTERY What’s with the water flow on Peden St. just east of Montrose Blvd.? An “avid” Swamplot reader writes: “A cluster of my neighbors . . . have received CoH water bills for the past 4 months that are much higher than average. As you know, the City helpfully advises we ‘check for leaks.’ No leaks. Check. I’ve tested the water meter with controlled withdrawals. The meter itself seems fine. Check. As best as we know from our individual habits, none of us have significantly changed our water use patterns, even in this hot, hot summer. Much of my flora is dead or dying. Check again. Can you or any of your readers suggest any steps we might take to find out what’s going on here, fight the Water Dept and these absurd bills? I thought of hiring a civil engineer, but my Google search didn’t find anyone that seemed to fit the ‘water’ bill. Can you help?” [Swamplot inbox]

11/17/10 1:04pm

“Sometimes I look back and wonder WHAT WAS I THINKING,” writes Jason Perry in a press release he sent to local media outlets announcing the closure of his late-night and after-hours establishment near Montrose and Fairview — and its coming reincarnation as a perhaps quainter little bistro. “Did I really open a penis shaped muffin restaurant, did I really spend more than half of a million dollars on a restaurant that promised to toss peoples salad[?]”

Housed in a 1940 foursquare at 2310 Converse St., the MuffinMan, which opened only a few months ago, actually promised customers a bit more than that. Perry’s possibly NSFW farewell-to-muffins press release explains it best:


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:


11/11/09 6:50pm

So much new stuff going on it’s impossible to keep track of it all!

  • Opening Soon? A new “Houston Ave. Bar” at the site of the former Farmers Coffee Shop on the corner of Houston Ave. and White Oak. Here’s the evidence: A permit for a “2 story addition” to the property was approved by the city last month. The corner is already a popular gathering place for floodwaters — several commenters on HAIF have posted photos of the intersection after Hurricane Ike (see above) and Tropical Storm Allison.
  • Moved: The Central City Co-op Wednesday market, from that Ecclesia space next to the Taft St. Coffee House to new digs at the Grace Lutheran Church at 2515 Waugh, just north of Missouri St. Sunday markets are still at Discovery Green. Next up for the co-op crew: Selling enough veggies to pay off those loans used for the church buildout.
  • Opening Softly, Later This Month: A place called Canopy, from the folks who brought you that place called Shade. Claire Smith and Russell Murrell’s new restaurant will go in the spot where Tony Ruppe’s was, in the double-decked strip center at 3939 Montrose, reports Cleverley Stone. Three meals a day, 7 days a week, plus 3 seating areas:

    a bright and refreshing dining room, festive bar and side street patio. We will eventually offer curbside “to go” service.

  • Opening Early Next Month: The brand-new Dessert Shoppe, in the strip center portion of 19th Streete in the Heights. Fred Eats Houston writes that sisters Sara and RaeMarie Villar will be serving up “whole cakes and pies to individual desserts, along with assorted breakfast pastries, cookies, quiches, cupcakes, and some breads.”
  • Reopened, for the First Time Since Ike: The Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Galveston. The combined boards of the International Shriners and Shriners Hospitals for Children had originally decided to close the hospital for good, after 30 inches of water wandered through the building’s first floor during the Hurricane. Shriners voting at this summer’s convention in San Antonio reversed that decision. The new hospital will have a smaller staff and budget. The Chronicle‘s Todd Ackerman reports that the hospital should already be open for reconstructive surgery cases; burn victims will have to wait until December for treatment.

And yet even more new stuff: