Preservation Alert: Save the Historic Salvage Yard!

Johnny Franks Auto Parts AdIt’s not just the rice silos that’ll be leaving the First Ward. Next thing you know, they’ll be demolishing . . . the used-auto-parts yard across the street. A source very close to Charles Kuffner reveals that the owner of Johnny Franks Auto Parts at 1225 Sawyer St., across the street from the Mahatma Rice silos, has already sold the land to residential developers.

But wait. Johnny Franks Auto Parts bills itself as “The Nation’s Oldest Salvage Yard.” Is this true? If so, how could Houston let such an important historical site be destroyed? Founded in 1910, the salvage yard for years advertised itself as “the house of a million parts.” Sadly — like so many other historic structures in Houston — that may be its ultimate fate.

After the jump, Kuffner counts the reasons why there’s probably no stopping residential development from taking place on this historic site:


Not one, but two active freight rail lines, which run at all hours with the horn blowing. Access via a surprisingly busy narrow street that serves as a cut-through to downtown for folks in the Heights. Oh, and the continued presence of other industrial/warehouse properties means that same street is also heavily used by 18-wheelers. It’s ugly as sin, and will be that way till all the old properties have been razed and replaced. And other than being within walking distance of Beaver’s and the new Chili’s near the Target (assuming you’d be bold enough to walk anywhere – there is a sidewalk, but it’s awfully narrow), there’s just no amenities nearby. What, exactly, is the allure?

Well, it is close to downtown. And the land ought to be relatively cheap . . .