Third Ward Fans Are Throwing a Party To Destroy the Flower Man’s Toxic and Art-Filled House, and Y’All Are Invited

Former Home of Flower Man Cleveland Turner, 2305 Francis St., Third Ward, Houston

Where else but Houston will you ever come across a day-long urban celebration that brings together demolition, visionary art, inventive gardening, a stirring memorial, water infiltration, and toxic mold? These core elements of the city’s essential funkytown identity and more will be highlighted in the Third Ward on February 7, when Project Row Houses, the owner of the last of 3 homes the late Cleveland Turner serially transformed into environments festooned with yard art and brightly painted junk, ceremonially rips apart the rotting property at 2305 Francis St. on account of they discovered a month or 2 ago that it (along with many of the works stuffed inside) was contaminated “beyond any chance of salvation” with varying dark hues of dangerous and smelly mold spores.


Cleveland Turner in Front of His Home at 2305 Francis St., Third Ward, Houston

Turner, known as “the Flower Man” to the many people who saw him riding his bicycle on regular flower-and-castoff-gathering expeditions through Third Ward neighborhoods, practiced his singular form of curation, painting, and creation as a form of alcohol recovery and personal transformation. He had turned this last house, which he moved to after a 2003 fire destroyed an earlier residence on Sampson St., into a vibrant envelope of redefined garbage inside and out. Art assemblages were arrayed on the living room floor; gardens of flowers, okra, cotton, chickens, and bright doodads graced the exterior.

An agreement with Project Row Houses allowed him to live there for the rest of his life. He passed away, after receiving treatment for stomach cancer, in December 2013.

The decay and “highly toxic” mold problem means the Flower Man’s contributions to Houston quirk won’t reach the permanence of enshrined predecessors like the Orange Show and the Beer Can House. But his fans are ensuring it’ll go out with a glorious musical crunch.

Highlights of the astounding juxtapositions assembled for the Saturday event: A Second Line from the First St. Matthew’s Missionary Baptist Church on Simmons St. to the house on Francis St. beginning at 10 am; memorial remarks by MacArthur “genius” grant recipient (and Project Row Houses founder) Rick Lowe and others at 10:45; incantations by the church choir in front of the doomed home at 11 am, followed immediately by the “main event” at 11:15: an excavator operated by Cherry Demolition rendering the singular infected house of art into a cloud of . . . er, “dust” within a matter of minutes. Next: a group flower-art and bicycle-decorating project; some storytelling and music at 11:45; and a neighborhood bike ride at 1 pm.

Former Home of Flower Man Cleveland Turner, 2305 Francis St., Third Ward, Houston

It’s a valiant attempt at an authentic Houston-style funeral demolition mold abatement land clearance happening. If the event lives up to the heady, smelly mix of hometown themes, could this kind of real estate commemoration become a thing? What passings would deserve be honored in similar fashion next?

Photos: Candace Garcia (top) Melissa M. (bottom); Ed Schipul (Flower Man; license)

It’s a Houston Thing

13 Comment

  • So nobody is nervous about a giant cloud of dust and toxic mold spores, then. Got it.

  • “Thank God for AA!” … Cleveland was a good man.

  • @Ian, remember where you live…Houston is a giant toxic filled mold spore. One more little poof of mold spores is nothing.

  • I’m guessing this will be a nominee for Best Demolition. Also, Ian has a good point.

  • I would think the idea (and reality) of toxic mold spores in the open air would be an environmental hazard. Beyond that, what is happening to the property when it’s torn down. Is it being sold for another town house?

  • I would assume there are procedures for safely demoing buildings covered in mold. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think this is the first time in recorded history that a house with mold on it has been demoed. I could of course be wrong.

  • What’s the address again? Or, can you link the “daily demo” page, please?

  • Too funny. What a great excuse to get rid of a property you know some tasteless fool will claim as somehow “historic to the fabric of the neighborhood” (extra stress on hood). I suppose this was this man’s artistic expression and I assume he owned the houses, so God love him.

  • On account of??????

  • I drove by there last week after reading about the demolition. I did not see any evidence of mold. The front door is gone and there were some people inside picking through the remains. The place is still filled with bric-a-brac and clothing and there’s an old art car in the yard covered with vines. Very sad.

  • They would have to remove the mold before demoing otherwise they are having a dangerous mold exposure party

  • Mold? What mold?
    Cleveland Turner broke the mold.

  • MrEction is right. Demolition services spray down the property as it’s being demolished to prevent the spread of dust (or mold in this case). They’ll also clear the debris, so the real concern would be leaving the home standing longer. People have been breaking in, stealing things, and sleeping in there, making it a hazard.