Swamplot Street Sleuths: Electric Horse Mystery Tour

Got a question about something going on in your neighborhood you’d like Swamplot to answer? Sorry, we can’t help you. But if you ask real nice and include a photo or 2 with your request, maybe the Swamplot Street Sleuths can! Who are they? Other readers, just like you, ready to demonstrate their mad skillz in hunting down stuff like this:

Some answers to your questions!

  • Riverside Terrace: Homeowner and eternal contractor Charlie Fondow told the Houston Press back in 2001 that his continually expanding house on Wichita St. just east of 288, where he’s lived since 1980, “is the love of my life. I don’t know how to live in a house that’s finished.” Clair de Lune comments on his towering and turreted Queen Anne show:

    I wonder how Charlie is doing these days, and (since the story doesnt mention a family) what will happen to the house after he’s gone. I also wonder if the interior is as interesting as the exterior? It might be time for a follow-up.

    Hey, all you local journalist types who use Swamplot as a tip sheet: How about it?

  • Willowbend: Commenter Sihaya explains that the horses gently grazing under the high-voltage power lines in the easement west of Stella Link below the South Loop are the animal benefactors of agricultural-use leases set up by Houston’s power company in order to lower its property taxes:


At the time, land for agricultural use could be taxed based on the value of its crop or stock rather than the value of the land itself. So throwing a farmer or rancher a cheap lease to put a piddly number of cattle on top of empty land was a common corporate practice. The law started tightening to exclude large corporations such as HL&P from agriculture breaks around 1993, from what I can glean in the Houston Chronicle’s archives.

The horses’ owner is a retired employee who made a *very* long lease. I think that HL&P lost the tax breaks in the mid nineties and quit renewing leases. It was good news for the school district which saw an infusion of cash, but bad news for everyday city life; I miss the days when I’d see riders taking their horses for Sunday strolls, and I liked to moo at the cows when I crossed an urban train track.

We’ll post the next set of reader questions next Tuesday.Send us what you got before then!

Photos: Mr. Kimberly (horses; license); Swamplot inbox (Wichita house)

One Comment

  • Is the guy that owns that cool house still live there? If so how do you contact him? If not is the estate up for sale? I think that house is very cool and would love to look around it.