The Century Built Home in Garden Oaks That Sold in About an Hour

Here’s the third of 4 houses designed by not-so-famous Houston architect Allen R. Williams in the 1940s and fifties, dubbed “Century Built” homes. If the name was intended to indicate how long the concrete-block homes were all supposed to last, the record isn’t so stellar: The one off Campbell Rd. was torn down some time ago. But the others are doing fine: One in Idylwood was snatched up by an architect a few years ago, and another in Country Club Place has served as a showcase for the renovation work of its current owner, architect Ben Koush.

But this unrenovated Century Built home at 851 W. 43rd St., in the middle of Garden Oaks, didn’t last so long, either: Real estate agent Robert Searcy tells Swamplot he had it locked up in a contract very quickly earlier this week, after he made a few phone calls. Not to a builder — the sellers didn’t want the place to be torn down — but reportedly to a serial renovator interested in Midcentury modern design.


The home, which was listed at $225K, was built in 1942. Its walls are made of hollow lightweight concrete tiles, the slabs have grade beams and piers, the windows are metal, and the roofs are concrete panels insulated with Fiberglas boards. Electrical wiring runs through the walls, in conduit. It’s got 3 bedrooms and 2 baths in a 1,482-sq.-ft. floor plan. There’s a big lot around it, too — measuring 12,084 sq. ft.

Why no pix of the interiors? There’s a bit of work to do. “These outside shots are bad enough,” Searcy says.

21 Comment

  • Can’t wait for the “after” photos!

  • Serial renovator huh? Sinuses like Medusa to me!

  • Lol sounds! Stupid ipad!

  • Please God Of Midcenturies, let this be true.

  • Finally they will move that rotting boat thats been parked in there drive way for years.

  • Yes, the boat will be going. No it isn’t Medusa Properties. There was a renovation in Timbergrove last year on a flat roof mod on Shelterwood, that is who is redoing this one.

  • Ha! When I read the post I asked myself if it was gonna be another Will Martin renovation. Sure enough! The one on Timbergrove turned out amazing, can’t wait to see what he does with this one, looks like a lot of work.

  • Ben Kouch owns one of these homes and designed that sh$t in the Heights? Is Swamplot working for this guy? He’s mentioned constantly and his work I’d awful! Champion someone with taste! Oh and I think this house is hideous! It’s hardly a mid century modern worth saving, those were all torn down in Tanglwood years ago

  • This was a foreclosure in 2009. Delighted to hear Mr. Searcy found a buyer, and no surprise at how soon. I hope a “serial renovator” will bring this back to its mid-century glory, and I look forward to watching this happen. Ive been driving past that ugly boat since 1997 and will be SO glad to see it gone.

  • Ben Koush is an asset to the local architectural scene.

  • I grew up near that house in Timbergrove. It brings me to tears of happiness to see it restored. I will have to drive by there this weekend. Wish there were more people like this guy to renovate our history with such amazing taste instead of building cookie cutter townhomes.

  • It would be an “anonymous” who thinks Kouch was an “asset”.. Too embarrased at their lack of taste to actually admit to an actual name. If building Johnny Walker homes makes you a great architect, then I guess Justin Bieber is indeed the second coming of Michael Jackson by extrapolation

  • Unlike some who clearly have no embarrassment at all at their obvious lack of taste.

  • Criticized by an anonymous and a winer, high praise indeed

  • Ben Koush gets mentioned a lot because he has contributed a lot of important research, articles, and books to the study of Houston architectural history. And he did identify and document the Century Built houses and restore one. In the past, Shannon, I have agreed with you about certain things and enjoyed the authority that you brought to certain posts. I don’t understand the shrill, strident tone of what looks like a personal attack and few people here believe “…it’s hardly a mid century modern worth saving, [and] those were all torn down in Tanglewood years ago.”

  • There are many styles of houses and people that love them, it’s a matter of PERSONAL taste, not taste in general! I love my Heights bungalow, my friend loves her mid-century modern, another loves her old Victorian……there’s room for all! The great tragedy (IMO) is when these older houses don’t even have a chance at being reborn because someone wants NEW in an old neighborhood, and that neighborhood is changed forever, one house at a time….

  • Claire de Lune…this property has been owned by the same elderly gentlemen since ~ 1980. Don’t know where your foreclosure info came from. Robert, if you are getting the 1942 date from HCAD, it is incorrect and your seller, if you had asked, would have told you the house was built in 1952 or 1953…he even has the original blueprints for the home. People in Garden Oaks were thrilled to learn this unique home will be saved and renovated! Thank you for your efforts in finding the right buyer.

  • I am thankful for Ben’s research and for putting me in touch with Robert who had the right buyer for my Dad’s house. I have always loved this house and have great memories here. It’s where I learned to appreciate unique architecture. I now live in NYC.
    I will have an open house on June 1st 10a to 4p if anyone would like to stop by, say hello – see the ‘before’ and the Texas shaped hot-tub my dad made in the back before it probably goes. If you are allergic to dust, wear a mask.
    PS – the boat is gone. long story.

  • There are a couple of other concrete homes on Keller St across from Ingrando Park in the Pecan Park area that also date from the early 50s. I know one elderly owner who invited me in once. Very quiet inside. She said C.E. King built them. Hers will likely be for sale in the near future as she’s over 90 now.

  • I had seen this article months ago and I bit my tongue. Although I am a mid century lover, this house was in such bad shape I couldn’t believe someone would be able to make anything good out of it. My daughter just sent me the link to the listing on HAR and I am in AWE! I will have to stop by the open house tomorrow to see it in person! The community must thank this guy for his amazing work!

  • How did this redo get past Swamplot?

    I like that it’s not all beige, tan, cream, almond, toast, yada yada yada.

    Now, if it just wasn’t on W. 43rd.