12/06/10 10:37am

The future looked a bit dire last week for the strange, dilapidated bungalow hiding in the back of a parking lot of the old HPD HQ building, just across the Gulf Freeway from the Downtown Aquarium. A 10-day online auction for the city-owned building ended with no bids. And the requirements of the bidder looked a little steep: partial demolition, repairs, a move, and restoration.

But a second one-day-only last-chance auction produced — surprise! — an actual bidder at the initial $1,000 asking price. Lucky winner Kirby Mears says he’s representing an “out-of-town client” who plans to restore the 1872 home to its original condition. “She’s very excited,” he tells Swamplot. But he says the former residence of Sixth Ward carpenter and contractor Gottlieb Eisele — last used as an office for the HPD’s old Explorer program — is in bad shape: “It will be a major restoration, and in the end have a new roof which will match the original in design, slope, and eave details.” It’ll also have a new home:


12/01/10 12:56pm

How about another go of it? The auction of the 1872-vintage former home of Gottlieb Eisele, now a vacant and dilapidated former HPD office surrounded by parking lots and the Gulf Freeway, ended last night with no bids. But today it’s back on the block, with a brand-new item number and a new closing-gavel time of 8 pm tonight. For a minimum bid of $1,000, the opportunity to partially demolish, jack up, repair, move, restore, and then register this property can be yours.


11/30/10 4:50pm

Why isn’t there an address given in the auction listing for the “1872 Bungalow Cottage” near the former police headquarters at 61 Riesner the city is trying to get rid of? Because the streets it used to be on have all faded away. The home is tucked almost under the Gulf Freeway at the eastern edge of the surrounding city parking lot. Museum of Houston director (and GHPA staffer) Jim Parsons tells Swamplot the home is all that’s left of an old residential area at what used to be the eastern tip of the Sixth Ward. According to Parsons, the original address was 34 South, and later 22 Artesian Place. Now it isn’t visible from any street.

The final deadline for bids is 8 pm tonight.


11/12/10 5:44pm

Spun around 180 degrees on its site yesterday: the 1,304 sq.-ft. Ranch house at 6513 Sharpview, before a small crowd gathered at Bayland Park next door and an online audience following the live-streaming cameras mounted to the long-vacant 1960 structure. Conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll‘s big house-twisting exercise was 10 years in the making. A reader sends in this report from the muddy field:

I missed the talks . . . but was there from about 11:30 ’till when they finished for the day at 2:30. What happened was they backed the house off the site, turned it perpendicular onto Sharpcrest, and then there was this great moment when the house was moving laterally along the street, and then they backed it in towards us (we were at the back of the lot, on the lot line that faces Bayland Park).

. . . The group seemed about evenly divided between architecture folks, including at one point Rice Architecture dean Sarah Whiting, art crowd types (Molly Gochman, Arturo Palacios), and the many friends MEC has made during her time in Houston due to her being such a nice person. A healthy handful of neighbors milled about, including this woman who stood on her roof with a cup of coffee, who at one point went inside and got an umbrella when it started raining.

Our correspondent also apparently missed some very hot Mexican food: Hometta blogger Jenny Staff Johnson reports a taco truck hired to cater the event caught on fire.


10/04/10 11:22pm

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:

Well, our readers didn’t come up with answers to these questions from last time, so Swamplot did a little digging:

  • River Oaks: Will the recently denuded River Oaks Blvd. host any actual oaks again? According to River Oaks Property Owners general manager Gary Mangold, that decision hasn’t been made yet. ROPO, the River Oaks Foundation, and boulevard residents will eventually vote on one of 3 separate proposals for reforestation.
  • Houston Heights: Design firm APD‘s Mark Van Doren tells Swamplot there never was a plan to put parking under the scooted-over and raised Perry-Swilley House now settling into its new digs at 1103 Heights Blvd., one lot north of its original site (see photo below). But there are plans to park an enclosed wine cellar and gameroom under about 30 percent of the house’s elevated footprint. What’s going into the lot on the corner of Heights and 11th St. the house vacated? Either a single-story commercial building or a 2-story house fitted for commercial purposes, Van Doren says. Either one would be “historically styled.” But nothing’s happening for now — the property owner is waiting for an anchor tenant to appear.


09/21/10 11:25pm

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.

  • River Oaks: A reader wants to know how River Oaks or the City of Houston could “get away with not replacing the 30+ trees they destroyed when resurfacing River Oaks Blvd. [(above)] . . . Isn’t there an ordinance requiring trees to be replaced?”
  • Houston Heights: Another reader has joined the saga of the traveling 1903 Perry-Swilley House (photo below) on the northwest corner of Heights Blvd. and 11th St., already in progress: “[They] moved the house across the lot and [then] raised the house by building brick columns underneath. I’m not sure what the point was.” Why, more strip centers and more parking — isn’t it always? The house was moved from the corner so the project’s developer might be able to fit in a small shopping strip with Heights Blvd. frontage; 2 years ago the city historical commission approved plans to raise the house so that parking could be fit underneath. But . . . what’s the current status of this project?


10/27/09 3:55pm

Snapped from the porch of Lola at 11th and Yale last week by a Swamplot reader: this photo of the 1903 Perry-Swilley House, formerly known to reside at 1101 Heights Blvd., and headed for 1103.

The city architectural and historical commission gave permission last year for the home to be moved one lot to the north. Swamplot reported on the owner’s plans for the site last November.

Why is the home being raised? So parking for that strip center planned for the corner can fit underneath.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

06/12/09 11:25am

The Heights Life draws attention to the 1,781-sq.-ft. 1915-vintage bungalow at 1620 Cortlandt St.:

When the property next door went on the market for lot value, a Heights family of five couldn’t resist the potential of a nice big yard for their own well-lived in bungalow. They bought the land, which happens to come with an adorable Craftsman home that currently sits on it.

So . . . it’s for sale. How much?

Because they essentially bough the land and the house is uninhabitable, they aren’t certain of the value. They are willing to consider different offers and work something out that benefits everyone. A very rough estimate would be $50-75k, based on some input they received from Historic Houston.

Photo of 1620 Cortlandt St.: The Heights Life

11/10/08 1:45pm

1101 Heights Blvd., Houston Heights

A Heights-area reader alarmed by the “Notice of Public Hearing” sign that appeared in front of the 100-plus-year-old converted home at the northeast northwest corner of Heights Blvd. and 11th St. has done some sleuthing and sends Swamplot a report:

No, the 1903 Victorian at 1101 Heights Blvd. won’t be torn down . . . the owner has received approval from the historic commission to move the building one lot to the north. And then to jack it up a few more feet, so cars can be parked underneath. Why hadn’t the Victorians thought of that?

Why the need for parking? To accommodate the brand-new strip center the developer wants to slide in between the new location for the home and the corner, facing 11th St. On the corner itself: Parking.

One observer who’s seen the plans says the house will end up “awfully close” to the back of the strip center. The developer apparently has promised to “restore” the home, though it may be leased out as office space. The project is scheduled to go before the planning commission a week from this Thursday: November 20th.

More photos from the scene: