How do you move a historic cottage from one location to another? Well, carefully: This video uploaded this week from the Heritage Society chronicles the easy-does-it, steady-as-she-goes relocation of a Fourth Ward cottage from its perch in Sam Houston Park. The Heritage Society says that the house, originally located on Robin St. in Freedman’s Town, dates to at least 1866. It’s been in the collection since 2002, temporarily sited on Dallas St., while the society awaited the funds to move it to its permanent home beside to the Jack Yates House in that architectural promenade on the park grounds along McKinney St.
Maybe they’re not ready for tenants to move in, but these Fourth Ward shotgun houses seem to have avoided demolition and potential displacement to find a new home in Freedman’s Town. Originally located on Victor St., just a few blocks south of this formerly vacant lot at 1414 Robin St., the 3 houses weren’t doing much at the rear of the site of the proposed 5-story mixed-use Dolce Living development. A rep from the Fourth Ward Redevelopment Authority says that the houses were donated to the authority by the owners and will be preserved and renovated into low-income housing; designs for the new bathrooms and porches are already underway, the rep says.
A City of Houston rep tells Swamplot that 3 of the 10 Freedman’s Town shotgun houses on Victor St. between Gillette and Bailey will be relocated in the Fourth Ward. (The photo shows a shingle-stripped one up on a trailer and ready to go.) A permit to demolish them was granted in 2011, but the city rep says that the owners have since agreed to donate some of the houses to the Fourth Ward Redevelopment Authority, which says it has plans to move them to a lot they own at 1414 Robin and rehab them into low-income housing. Swamplot reported this morning that the West Gray lot where the rowhouses are now located has been pegged for a 5-story mixed-use midrise called Dolce Living.
A pair of West Gray lots — nearly vacant save their seen-better-days Freedman’s Town rowhouses in the back — have been put on notice as the proposed site for Dolce Living: that’s 5 stories and 176,344 sq. ft. of 1- and 2-bedroom apartments, with some street-level retail to sweeten the deal.
Friday is the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Fourth Ward’s new Bethel Church Park — though an eagle-eyed Swamplot reader noted workers from contractor JE Dunn getting a jump on things at the site of the former Bethel Missionary Baptist Church at Andrews St. and Crosby earlier this month. The Freedman’s Town church in the shadows of Downtown, portions of which date from 1923, was largely destroyed by fire in January 2005 after several years of sitting vacant. Its shored-up walls have stood mostly undisturbed since then.
Some sort of work has begun on the remains of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on the corner of Andrews St. and Crosby in the Fourth Ward, a reader reports: “About a week ago someone put up new fencing around it, and in the past few days construction crews have started doing something to it (not sure what). . . . It used to be that the church itself was fenced off and the grassy area behind it (where the trucks are now) was open (lots of people . . . used it as an impromptu dog park). Then they pushed the fence back to cover the whole block and the trucks came in. Most mornings this week workers are dumping a bunch of stone into a waste bin that’s hauled off. I can only assume the stone is coming from the church (I don’t see where else its coming from), but I couldn’t swear to it.”