Heights Telephone Museum To Be Renovated Into Lofts

Hold the phone! Rumored to be a goner, the 1957 Telephone Museum on the corner 18th and Ashland, which was sold about a year ago, will soon be cleaned up and converted into 24 luxury lofts, says Donna Sonne Wright of homebuilders Rohe & Wright. And Wright also tells Swamplot that 21 cottages will be built here too, replacing the fenced-in surface parking lot off 17th. Unfortunately, no renderings of the project are yet available. Rohe & Wright is the same firm responsible for the Saint Honoré gated community under construction off San Felipe.

Photo: Allyn West

18 Comment

  • “Cottages”? I wonder if that could be a safe place for bungalos to go?

  • Wonderful! When I saw the sign recently of those inane looking 3 story homes that all look alike, I thought it meant for the entire lot. Glad to see a little reuse going on at the site.

  • Very cool all the way; great location, blends in with neighborhood. I like the preservation.

  • Not exactly aestheticly appealing, let’s hope the loft developers improve the exterior as well.

  • Houston had a telephone museum? Least. Advertised. Museum. Ever.

  • I wonder if these lofts will be ready for move-in before the eternally under-construction lofts on Studewood and 12th?
    BTW, the sign on the property is advertising 3 story townhomes priced from the $600’s. Same sign is also on a vacant lot one block west on 18th Street.

  • Cottages or townhomes?

  • #5: There was (is?) a sign on the esplanade at 18th. I must have seen it 1000 times.
    I think the museum was by appointment only, though. I never went.

  • Here’s the sign on google maps: http://goo.gl/maps/otCmy

  • Actually I was able to visit the telephone museum once. It was way more interesting than it might sound at first, kind of sad to see it go.

  • For a long time this was a Southwestern Bell building (which is probably why it went on as a telephone museum after they closed the building). My father worked there for awhile in the 80s. He often remarked that you could always identify a Bell building because it would be the ugliest one around. They were typically large, windowless vertical boxes used to house all of the switching equipment. As the technology changed there was less need for these buildings, and they became drab offices or just empty.

  • The telephone museum had previously relocated on at least two occasions when they had to move from the exhibit space AT&T was allowing them to use at no charge. It looks like they may have found a new space as the website has been updated with a note that they will be opening soon:


    Anyone interested in networking and computers will find much of interest there when they reopen.

  • That telephone museum was VERY cool. Definitely worth a trip when they relocate and reopen. Even if you’re too young to remember when telephones had cords, you’ll enjoy it.

  • I happen to like the look of this building (and buildings like it) from the outside, but yes I can understand how there might be a dearth of sunlight on the interior that would necessitate a substantial remodel.

  • I was hired by SWBT to go to work there in Jan 1958. The building opened in March 1958. Would be kinda fun to buy a loft where my desk was. I’m glad it will remain. It was built to sustain during ANY storm. The museum was a really good thing. Hope they do open again.

  • Wow. This is huge. The Heights just dodged a big bullet with this one. That lot could have easily been turned into a 12-14 story building or worse. I have seen buildings a lot like this one retrofitted for residential before. A lot can be done to the exterior to get it away from the very minimal styling while still keeping it in line with the original architecture.

  • Such an awesome development! Keeping this building and retrofitting it into luxury lofts is great. I’m sure once they make some updates to the exterior, it will look really attractive. Plus you can’t beat this area in terms of walkablility for Houston, def a great location. Only question is when do they start?

  • It’s completely typical of Heights development to turn adequate parking for the 24 units into, yet more, units with insufficient parking.