Crews are ripping into the 3-story Mediterranean house on the corner of Hyde Park Blvd. and Whitney St., as well as the adjacent bungalow that Clark Gable lived in for 2 years during his time in Montrose in the late ’20s. Already, the shingled structure has been reduced to the pile of lumber pictured above (although its doors remains intact).
It lost its face-off with the excavator pictured below just this morning:
Theater director Frederick Leon Webster built the bungalow at 411 Hyde Park as his personal studio in 1921 and soon expanded it to include an attached apartment at 413. Five years later, 25-year-old Gable arrived in town with plans to perform for a local theater company and took the house over. Webster finished the separate corner structure — which he dubbed L’Encore — the next year and relocated there.
It hasn’t been pushed over yet:
You can see some of its terracotta roofing peeking out above the casement windows with square panes, shown below:
Sometime after Gable skipped town and returned to Hollywood, Houston businessman Jack Blalock Jr. got his hands on the property, where he lived for roughly 40 years. He died in 2001, but murmurings of an impending sale didn’t get loud until early May, when Nancy Sarnoff reported that a group connected to Drake Custom Homes — a single-family and townhouse developer active in Midtown and Montrose — had the property under contract. Blalock’s estate sold it a few weeks later, and the new owner hung onto it for about a month before signing up to tear it down and build in its place. (During that time, a separate entity that recently snatched the property across the street filed plans to replace its former 1928 house with a set of 3 adjacent 3-stories.)
A look through the building’s backyard entryway on Whitney:
- Potential loss of Montrose compound saddens preservationists resigned to losses [Houston Chronicle]
- Houston 101: Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn [Houston Press]
Photos: Mark Johnson Photography, Inc.
Does anyone give a damn?
I had no idea he lived in Houston and would have gone by there if I had known.
it’s historic, and it’s Houston. So no.
now, where’s the latest tree been cut down? Someone is going to go apes**t over that.
Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in Houston to preserve memories of the history we have. Is there anything left here to remember the connection here by Clarke Gable, Howard Hughs, Barbara Jordan and many others?
For example, I find it a little annoying that Austin seems to have claimed Jordan and apparently has a couple of statues of her, even though she was born in Houston and made her fame (among other things) as the first black woman elected to the US Congress from the South … representing Houston’s CD 18.
Frederick Leon Webster supposedly fought in World War 1, was injured & while recuperating in France, vowed that if & when he returned to the States he would build a Country French style home . He did and became a well regarded acting / drama coach-teacher. Clark Gable blew into town, and fell in with Webster and his troupe. In 1927-28 Gable acted with the Laskin Brothers Stock Company , during this period became a local matinee idol… Prior to moving to Houston, he had met and became romantically involved with Portland ,Oregon theater manager Josephine Dillon – who became his acting coach . She paid for his dental makeover, had his hair restyled, helped him build up his chronically undernourished body (actor’s slave wages don’t allow for healthy eating);taught him better body control & posture ; and helped lower his high pitched voice into a deeper range.. In 1924 they moved to Hollywood <CA , and Josephine became his wife & manager. Drake Custom Homes: builds CRAPPY houses.. Avoid em..
I lived with Jack in that house for many years and it saddens me to see it gone. I used to live on Steel Street as well – and that’s gone too. Am glad I moved back to Boston , the United State’s most European city.