Ever notice that the Wheeler-Ave. side of the Midtown Sears (shown above) doesn’t quite jibe with the rest of the building? It’s become even clearer since all that beige metal cladding was stripped off the structure earlier this year. Upon its removal, the biggest revelations were cascading green, red, and blue art-deco tile mosaics (shown here) running from top to bottom on every side of the building, except the Wheeler one, where the array of facade openings pictured at top are a bit less architecturally refined despite their prominent positions overlooking crosstown traffic.
So, what gives? Well, it turns out that Sears’s south side wasn’t all that visible when the building opened in 1939. Back then, Wheeler was just a narrow side street off Main and did not flow directly into Richmond as it does now, explains Preservation Houston’s Jim Parsons. Richmond, a much larger thoroughfare, also dead-ended into Main St., across from the Sears and just north of where Wheeler began. You can see the missed connection in the 1950 street map above.
It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the 2 streets were joined through a partial annexation of the Delman Theater property at 4412 Main, catty-corner southwest of the Sears:
The ’30s-era cinema building stayed put for a few more decades with its strip retail neighbors a bit closer to the curb since Richmond now curved southeast into Wheeler.
Then Dallas-based Tivoli Realty demolished the Delman along with its adjacencies in 2002. (Covering the teardown, Nancy Sarnoff wrote that a late ’80s stint hosting live performances had been the theater’s last hurrah. It sat unoccupied, she reported, for most of the following decade.)
Also a byproduct of the roadwork: Peggy’s Point Plaza Park, the small fenced-in fountain and square at the northwest corner of Richmond and Main that’s become a popular homeless hangout:
A few more shots of the Sears building’s ornate west . . .
and north sides:
Here’s the Wheeler facade from afar:
And up close:
- Previously on Swamplot: Mapping the Midtown Innovation District That Doesn’t Exist Yet But Keeps Getting Bigger; Rice Picks Up 1.75 More Acres Near Wheeler Transit Center, Stripped-Down Sears; What the Midtown Sears Looks Like Almost Entirely Unwrapped; Shuttered Midtown Sears Now Shedding Its Full Metal Jacket; Midtown Sears Closure Nets Rice 9 Acres Near the Wheeler Transit Center
Map: Rand McNally via Houston Area Digital Archives. Photos of Sears: Adam Brackman (mosaics); Swamplox inbox (all others). Photos of Peggy’s Point Plaza Park: Denise W. Photos of Delman Theater: Predator [license] (color); bdeen [license] (black and white)