03/10/15 2:15pm



From its extensive upper (top) and lower porches facing Upper Galveston Bay to a pair of double-bay garages, an updated 1970 Kemah Heights home finished in sea foam shades duplicates many of its open floor plan’s features. The bi-level property, located a few blocks south of the Kemah Boardwalk, has 2 courtyards, a pier, quarters, a boat house, and a $998,950 asking price on its listing.


12/17/14 5:05pm


With the U.S.-Cuba cold war finally melting away, it’s as good a time as ever to point out a few key sites from Fidel Castro’s trip to the area, and those associated with Houston’s Robert Ray McKeown, the machinist-turned-international businessman-turned-peripheral figure to the JFK assassination. McKeown was also Castro’s best buddy on Galveston Bay, and a man who claimed to have met Lee Oswald in San Leon and sipped beer with Jack Ruby at Jimmie Walker’s Edgewater Restaurant in Kemah.

The story begins in Houston in 1950. McKeown, then 39, was a machinist with his own shop in Pasadena. One day his ship came in: an inventor approached him with a plan for a machine that could clean coffee better than any other before it. McKeown built the machine, and apparently several more, and the two men went into business. McKeown trolled the coffee ports of Latin America for sales, which eventually lead to him moving to Santiago, Cuba during the administration of president Carlos Prío Socarrás, who would become a friend.


Cold War Picaresque
12/19/13 11:30am



Once billed as “Somerset Estate,” a 1960 home designed by well-known Houston architect John Staub occupies a waterfront lot in the Bay Breeze neighborhood, located an amble down the road from the Kemah boardwalk. The Bermuda-style stucco home with aluminum roof sold for $1.9 million back in February, though that previous listing had a $2.8 million asking price. When the property popped back up on the market in June, it featured a slightly trimmed footprint along with much-tidied undergrowth along its curving driveway. The repackaged property’s $1.8 million price tag still includes the furnishings:


A Walk from the Boardwalk
04/05/10 5:12pm

Over the weekend we finally got the big reveal from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, featuring the 15-member Beach Family in Kemah. Pictured above: the new Therapy Room, modeled after “the carnival in Kemah.”

Next from the Beaches’ new 6,340-sq.-ft. home: magical mushrooms in the “Trees and Tea Parties Room.”


01/08/10 10:48am

FROM ONE EXTREME TO ANOTHER As all of Kemah knows by now, the latest beneficiaries of one of those “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” weeklong volunteer-fueled whirlwinds is the 15-member Beach family: “After Hurricane Ike, the Beaches moved from their damaged home at 1013 Delesandri Lane into two FEMA trailers, parked in front of their house. Last fall, they moved to the backyard, into an 18-foot travel trailer with one toilet. The hot water tank held just 6 gallons, and they had to make frequent visits to the laundromat and cook on a gas grill. . . . The Beaches knew they were one of five local families nominated for the show, but Thursday’s ‘door knock’ made it official. The ‘reveal’ is scheduled for next Thursday, when they’ll come home to a 6,340-square-foot, two-story house with eight bedrooms and 4½ bathrooms. The episode is scheduled to air in March. Plans for the home include an elevator, therapy room and rooftop solar panels. The house will be built to meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act, with wide doorways and bathrooms spacious enough for a wheelchair.” [Houston Chronicle]

09/06/07 11:21am

Roller Coaster on the Kemah Boardwalk Under Construction, June 2007

Worried that deed restrictions won’t protect your home from someone putting up ugly townhouses on your street?

Big whup. On the Kemah Boardwalk, the next-door neighbors of Coy and Carol Killion decided to build a 96-foot-tall roller coaster.

The Boardwalk Bullet is now a few dozen feet from the house. For 12 hours a day, the family listens to the coaster’s squeaks and rattles and the screams of 800 passengers an hour rolling by at 50 mph.

“It’s such a shame, really. We all used to just love the peaceful quiet,” said Carol Killion, who built the house in 1962. “It’s what we enjoyed about it, away from the big city.”

The Killions, of course, still refuse to sell their home to Landry’s.

“As long as I live, it will not be sold to him,” she declared, referring to Landry’s President Tilman Fertitta.

This weekend, the coaster’s noise drove them all from the porch: Killion, her husband, Coy, and her son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons. “You can’t even carry on a conversation,” she said. “I don’t think we’ll even be able to barbecue.”

No public hearing was ever held to inform residents about the coaster.

The city has no zoning, and the coaster met all setback requirements, a Kemah city administrator told the Houston Chronicle in July. Carol Killion said a lawsuit would be just too exhausting.

Boardwalk Bullet photo: Kira Hamilton