A Final Farewell to the Former Houston Press Building

A FINAL FAREWELL TO THE FORMER HOUSTON PRESS BUILDING The former alternative newspaper HQ at 1621 Milam St. that’s also done stints as an auto dealership will be demolished, reports the Chronicle’s Craig Hlavaty.  Back when the Houston Press moved into it 15 years ago, the structure’s parking-lot sides were unadorned; artist Suzanne E. Sellers slapped her trompe-l’œil mural onto the north and east facades in 1994. Along Milam, however, things haven’t changed as much since the building’s first tenant Shelor Motor Company opened up in the ’20s — according to former Press staffer Abrahán Garza. Even its original 1920s glass windows — he reported — stayed put on the second and third floors through 2010. Now construction barriers are up around the whole block, and the property owner Chevron tells Hlavaty that a demolition permit is under review by the city. The oil company bought the 38,000-sq.-ft. structure in 2013, the same year Houston Press staff left it for a new spot on the corner of La Branch and McGowen. [Houston Chronicle] Photo: Capital Realty  

16 Comment

  • Sad …. Chevron wants to raze this gorgeous and historic structure while they are still sitting on an entire long EMPTY block adjacent to their main offices two blocks away. There ought to be a law …..

  • Dang it. That facade is sweet and real. What is Chevron going to do with that property — put up a gas station?

  • I say we boycott Chevron! Buy fuel from anywhere else instead. That will show them!
    j/k It doesn’t matter. Another piece of Houston history dies, for no apparent reason. I wonder what Chevron has planned?

  • Something was up when they shut down the parking meters there. Argh. Didn’t know who owned it, but once the fence went up time was short. Just another nice looking old building turned to dust in this dump of a city.

  • For shame Chevron, for shame… Hope they at least salvage some of the Architectural details and materials.
    In case everyone is even counting.

    1) Astroworld
    2) Shamrock Hotel
    3) World Incarnate Academy
    4) The building that houses Longhorn Cafe, 517 Louisiana
    5) The Ben Milam Hotel
    6) The Sam Houston Coliseum
    7) The Houston Chronicle Building (for sixties era architecture and printing press)
    8) Glassell School of Art (again, a fifties/sixties era treasure)
    9) Kenneth Franzheim building, the downtown YMCA, again thank you Chevron Corp. What you guys got against old buildings?!
    10) The Montague Hotel (Yes seedy, but a GREAT structure none the less!)
    11) Next up the Pierce Elevated (technically not Architecture but is good Civil Engineering)

    Okay okay, I will stop for now. Need to go pack my bags and say goodbye to my hometown that is slowly disappearing. :(

  • One thing I’ve learned from traveling is that a city will never have a soul if it doesn’t protect it’s history. So often, it’s reasons like this that Houston can be such an utter disappointment to native Houstonians like me. If the end goal is to have the look and feel of an over bloated, second class suburb, then thumbs up Houston, you’re so winning!

  • I agree EldoradoEd. I think we all know and can agree that Houston is a Developers Paradise where the local municipal government caters to, and incentivized, ‘speculative overdevelopment’. At the expense of of local history and tradition.

    This in and off itself is why Houston will never really be a truly ‘World Class City’ as everyone proposes that it is. No effective functioning mass transit systems, lack of historical preservation, very little affordable housing, antiquated infrastructure (drainage and raoads), lackluster political will of officials to do the RIGHT thing, boondoggle construction projects that are awarded to firms in the pocket of the most current admin, etc. etc… I could go on for days. But I’ll spare y’all.

    DRILL baby, DRILL baby, DRILL!

  • @EldoradoEd and @Kineticd:
    Yes, Houston is a developer’s paradise. It always has been. It was developed by … developers! It is a World Class Developer’s Paradise, if that makes you feel better. Houston has a soul, it just isn’t the soul you want it to have.

  • @Memebag:

    Hahaha. I always love your truthfulness! And yes the ‘Allen Brother’s’ were SOME sly NY City ‘land speculators’. lol

  • Lots of cities are considered “world class” that don’t protect, or don’t have, hisotry. Dubi and Hong Kong come quickly to mind
    (I say this as someone who does like history and thinks it would be better to save old buildings then knock them down)

  • Am I the only one who read this headline and initially thought they were talking about the original Houston Press?

  • My dearly departed grandfather worked at a wallpaper store that was housed in that oh-so-very-magnificent building in the late 30s and early 40s. Oh! How I loathe not having a time machine or some kind of window into the past to see what it and what he would have been like in his youth. Ah but alas, there is no such device, only bricks made of the some earthen matter much like that into which his lifeless body was deposited. Woe is me! Nothing is as it was! It is changing and I just can’t handle that…because…*I AM WORLD CLASS*. I am so very special, and so were my ancestors. We are so special that we and every facet of our legacy merit protection from the barbarian elite, from the mouthbreathers, from any and all that would build their lives upon the rubble of the perfect person I imagine my grandfather certainly must’ve been. The land is encumbered by my idealism. It is a little bit mine. Not yours. Mine. Obviously.
    I am okay with tearing it down. Document it. Salvage it. Go ahead, tear it down. Use the land. What comes next? Whose early adulthood will be defined by the next thing to be sited upon that land? What opportunities await? And as for Houston being a “world-class city”, those whom are concerned with such things don’t know what is and is not world-class; such a preening and pretentious person deserves ridicule and should perhaps go to live among their own kind in Austin.

  • @ The Niche:

    Look here Hoss… I grew up in this town for the last 44 years (raised in South Houston and lived in Montrose for last 22) and I have seen it ebb and flow.

    I’m neither preening nor pretentious (but thank you though).

    All I’m saying is I’ve lived in Barcelona and DC during my Architectural Internship and eurorailed across Western Europe (on my own dime/no family money). Seen Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Madrid, Lisbon, Basel, Zuririch, Düsseldorf, etc…

    Never in these travels was I robbed at gunpoint (like in the H), I was able to mass transit everywhere, didn’t have to dodge a pothole the size of Kentucky, sit in traffic to go two miles, worry about my home flooding everytime someone flushes a toilet, etc…

    If that is what you define as ‘World Class’? Then we obviously have entirely different interpretations.

    Nice try though, thx. ;)

  • Pointless to bring up one’s Houston-based ancestry given that Houston is without a doubt quite simply better today than it was back then. A lot of places can’t make that claim.

  • I grew up in San Antonio. a city that preserves EVERYTHING. It makes for a really boring cityscape. I love seeing the preservationists trolling start up anytime a pre-50’s building hi goes on the chopping block here. The “native Houstonians” crack me up the most. If these “natives” would spend more time exploring the city they purport to hate, they’d find an interesting, diverse, one of a kind gem of a city. Due to Houston’s de facto type zoning, no two blocks are boring and no two blocks look the same. I’m a professional guide here and I’ll gladly show you buildings worthy of preservation because they merit such reverence standing next to late model structures equally stunning. It’s too easy to troll a piece reporting on the impending demise of simple three story brick former auto dealership (of which there are still two similar buildings still standing in the CBD). If you’re willing to step away from the AC and do a little work in the heat and outdoors…..I’ll show you an incredibly unique and beautiful city.

  • @Kineticd: Oh, when you say “world class” you mean western Europe.
    Ever wonder how Europe got all the money to build those nice things? Colonies. They got that money by sailing their guns to other continents and screwing the daylights out of the locals. They brought the wealth back and built “world class” cities. Now they sell tourism to people from those same continents.
    Any suggestions for places Houston could colonize and rob? I’m thinking we start with Brenham. They seem weak.