06/15/15 11:15am

Former Houston Post Building, Future Houston Chronicle Headquarters, 4747 Southwest Fwy., Houston

“It looks amazingly shiny without the 50 years of grime,” notes the reader who late last week snapped these photos of the former Houston Post building at 4747 Southwest Fwy., tucked into the lifted right armpit of the I-69-610 intersection. The brutalist main building of the 7-building campus, designed in 1970 by Astrodome architects Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson, is being powerwashed — with a significant portion of the work complete just in time for this week’s heavy rains.


05/06/15 4:17pm

Barbara Jordan Post Office, 401 Franklin St., Downtown Houston

The U.S. Postal Service plans to end all retail operations at its flagship Downtown Houston post office next Friday, May 15th. And that’ll be it for the Barbara Jordan Post Office in the 5-story 1962 building with concrete fins at 401 Franklin St. All P.O. box and caller services at that location have already ended; they stopped on May 1st. And the post office boxes themselves have been gently extricated as well, leaving this scene inside:


Get Your Stamps There While You Still Can
03/05/15 11:00am

Barbara Jordan Post Office, 401 Franklin St., Downtown Houston

A reader who maintains a post office box at the Barbara Jordan Post Office at 401 Franklin St. Downtown has forwarded Swamplot a notice that showed up with the mail earlier this week, inviting box renters to a “town hall” meeting about the upcoming move of post office services at the facility. “Our projected move date is fast approaching,” the flyer reads — though it doesn’t identify when it will be.


Barbara Jordan P.O.
02/26/15 4:30pm




Its spread wings don’t fly, but a horizon-hugging 1960 mod in Memorial — once known as the Lapin House — did rise to prominence in 2009 after a Good Brick Award from the organization now called Preservation Houston was bestowed on its humdinger of a renovation. Actual bricks on the property are mostly to be found on the street side of the home. Window walls in back face the poolscape, yard, and a bend in Buffalo Bayou, bringing the outside in. To reach the waterway, take the stone steps set into the slope backing the almost-an-acre property.

It’s located in the Willowick neighborhood of Hunters Creek Village, west of Voss Rd. and south of Memorial Dr. The original design by Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson (yes, the Astrodome architects) has a later addition attributed to architect Joel Brand. When listed earlier this week, the posh property’s asking price was $2.495 million.


Adjusting the Horizontal
12/02/14 10:18am


A demolition permit has been filed for 2 Longbow Ln., a Buffalo Bayou-side 1956 Mid Century Modern home designed by Astrodome architects Wilson, Morris, Crain, & Anderson for renowned internist Dr. Mavis Kelsey, founder of the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

Kelsey died at 101 in November of 2013. The home and 4 acre lot in Circle Bluff — a warren of streets with Robin Hood-themed names just outside the West Loop, east of Chimney Rock Rd., south of Memorial Dr. — went on the market in late May, and after a little under 2 months, sold for $6.9 million. The buyer is listed as David M. Weekley, chairman of David Weekley Homes.


Snapping The Longbow
07/22/14 1:15pm

Former Houston Post Building, 4747 Southwest Fwy., Houston

Yesterday afternoon’s news came couched in pillowy fluff: Houston’s largest news-gathering organization will be moving to an exciting new state-of-the-art facility in the Galleria area! No, the Houston Chronicle isn’t leaving the heart of the city it covers: Key reporters will remain downtown!

But here’s a rougher-edged reading of the newspaper’s apparent retreat: The Hearst Corporation is getting ready to sell off one of its most valuable Houston assets — a block and a half of prime Downtown real estate — so it’s telling Chron editorial staffers to find room for themselves somewhere in or around the austere 440,000-sq.-ft. concrete fort where the company’s distribution, circulation, local sales, and press operations have been camping out, on 21 acres in the lower right armpit formed by the intersection of Hwy. 59 and Loop 610.

The former Houston Post compound at 4747 Southwest Fwy. (above), designed by Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson in 1970 as a stark Brutalist follow-up to their work on the Astrodome, was part of the booty obtained by the Chronicle when it bought out its rival paper in 1995. The announcement calls the complex its “future campus,” but the extent of renovations or any new construction planned on the site is unclear.

What about that downtown foothold the paper is promising?


A Newspaper Retreat
04/14/14 3:45pm



One of the contemporary townhomes with courtyards in a 7-property subdivision dubbed West Lane Place was under contract last month but returned to the market a week ago with an asking price of $575,000 — $10K higher than the previous listing. The listing identifies the townhome’s designers as some form of the firm once known as Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson — also known as the architects of the Astrodome. Courtyards, it says, are by landscape firm McDugald-Steele. The 1982 property is tucked between Afton Oaks and the railroad right-of-way east of Newcastle.


Steel Away
09/23/11 6:19pm

Reader Brian Thorp sends in a couple of photos documenting the final hours of what he’s now labeled the “holiest” church in Houston — it was, at least for a time today. The Central Presbyterian Church at 3788 Richmond Ave. was designed in 1962 by Astrodome architects Wilson, Crain, Morris and Anderson; it sits on the site where the Morgan Group is ready to build a new apartment complex. By 9 am this morning (above), the church had developed a few punctures in its side. By noon, much of the dust, and a good portion of the church’s walls, had cleared:


09/06/11 9:39am

Construction fencing has already gone up around the Central Presbyterian Church at 3788 Richmond near Greenway Plaza, a reader reports. The Modern church campus was designed in 1962 by Wilson, Morris, Crain and Anderson — just a few years before the same local architecture firm set to work on a small project called the Astrodome. Two years ago the congregation moved a couple miles northwest to merge with the St. Philip Presbyterian Church, just outside the Loop on San Felipe. Houston Mod fans have been trying to save the vacant church from demolition ever since.

But the church buildings won’t be sticking around for long.


05/13/10 12:16pm

Back on the market for what looks to be the first time in a couple of years: This 1959 garage-free number on Westminster Dr. in Memorial, just a couple doors down from Chimney Rock. The house was designed by Houston architects Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson — just a few years before the company drew up plans for the Astrodome.

What? No giant west-facing windows in front? And what’s behind door number 1, anyway?


02/25/09 3:52pm

Nancy Sarnoff reports that the U.S. Postal Service is putting its entire 16-acre downtown facility on the market, including the classic modern main building. The building was designed by Houston’s own pseudo-brutalists Wilson, Morris, Crain and Anderson in 1962, when precast concrete fins were all the rage.

There are a few stipulations to the sale:

Whoever buys the property at 401 Franklin must build a replacement processing facility for the postal service, as well as provide a retail location near the existing site where consumers can mail packages and buy stamps.

Photo: Danilo Caranza Carino Pacquing Ronquillo