06/12/17 11:15am

HOUSTON’S PREMIER FLOATING TOURIST ATTRACTION SHUT DOWN AGAIN AFTER MORE LEAKS A 6-by-8-in. hole 15 inches below the water line discovered yesterday on the starboard side of the Battleship Texas caused the San Jacinto Battleground tourist attraction to tilt a “pretty serious” 6 degrees overnight, KPRC’s Cathy Hernandez reports this morning. The battleship — which was built long after the Battle of San Jacinto, but is a veteran of 2 world wars and a whole lot of 21st Century rust — has now been closed to the public until further notice. At last report, approximately 2,000 gallons of water per minute had been pumped out of the ship for more than 15 hours. Funds originally allocated to move the retired sea vessel to a dry berth were used instead to repair previous leaks. [Click2Houston; Texas Parks & Wildlife; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Coast Guard News [license]  

07/13/16 4:00pm

Blondie's Bar, 1026 S. 8th St., La Porte, TX 77571

After more than 40 on-and-off years under its current name, and 37 years since housewife-turned-electrician Margaret Lindsay got involved with the place, Blondie’s on the corner of S. 8th St. and Fairmont Pkwy. off SH 146, is once again listed for sale. A previous Houston Press article details Lindsay’s account of some of the bar’s fraught history since 1980 — from the banned and reinstated lingerie shows, complex permitting and loan tangles, and 11th-hour financial saviors and sugar daddies, to the alleged police harassment and an eventual lawsuit filed against the city of La Porte.

The suit was dismissed in 1999, as the named city official’s had immunity to Lindsay’s allegations that they had conspired to run her out of town; 17 years later, the bar still stands along the channelized banks of Little Cedar Bayou, between 2 Wells Fargo buildings and across Fairmont from the McDonald’s and the La Porte Post Office. LoopNet lists the asking price as $1 million — kitchen equipment, alarm system, and all. Here are a few more of the listing shots, which show the bar still loosely decked out for Christmas:


Looking Like a Million Bucks
02/19/16 3:45pm

The Sterling Mansion, 515 Bayridge Rd., La Porte, TX 77571

The century-old semi-model of the White House in Morgan’s Point, commissioned by then-future Texas governor Ross Sterling (founder of ExxonMobil’s Humble Oil beginnings), is once again up for grabs. The 20,689-sq.-ft. home at 515 Bayridge Rd. — purported to be the result of Sterling pointing at the back of a $20 bill and telling architect Alfred E. Finn to “build that” — went on the market this morning for $6 million (that’s 300,000 $20s).

The 9-bedroom, 15-bathroom mansion was converted into a dormitory-style boy’s home for the Optimist Club of Houston after Sterling’s death in 1949; it was sold in the early 1960’s to a Houston banker who eventually decided that cleaning it back up wasn’t worth the trouble. The house sat on the market for 8 years until its sale to a mysterious French Count-type in 1980. This time around, the house is being sold by an orthopedic surgeon who put in $1.5 million in renovations, including a sand-and-palm tree beach (tucked below the South(west) Portico on the edge of upper Galveston Bay):

On Sale in Morgan’s Point
04/29/15 11:30am




It’s a grand view of Upper Galveston Bay from a lattice-wrapped century-old Victorian home in Grandview. The bayfront stretch of Morgan’s Point in La Porte was an early 20th Century enclave of upper-crust summer residences. The 1896 home sits near the water end of the lot, which is nearly an acre; 1886 quarters anchor the gated entry off the lone roadway serving a string of shoreline-hugging properties, which includes the 1928 Ross Sterling mansion and its mega-sized, treeless lot. This property, however, has plenty of plantings. County tax records indicate the spread has been in the same family since at least the early (19)80s. The asking price for the listing, which went up earlier this month, is $1.2 million. 


Lattice Wrap
02/18/14 2:45pm



“Little Castle” or “Tree House”? This coastal property forged of sticks and stones in Shoreacres is known by either name; it’s a 1932-built landmark near the Houston Yacht Club in La Porte. Thick, rough cut rocks clad much of the exterior, which comes with a chimney-hugging turret (top). Near its breeze-facing entry off a patio, 4 ‘faux bois’ pine trees — one of which looks a bit squirrely (above) — lend their support.


Rocky and Squirrely
12/02/13 3:00pm



In the Morgan’s Point Historic District, a 1997-vintage custom home’s water-view windows and width-of-house veranda (visible through the window in the top photo) provide vantage points for some relaxing Upper Galveston Bay surveillance. The waterway is likely to be full of passing activity; the Barbour’s Cut shipping terminal is nearby. The bayside property, designed by Bruce Conaway and built by John Wycoff & Associates, includes an updated 1900 carriage house, which sits closer to the street on this deep lot with a 103-ft.-long private beach and a 400-ft.-long shared pier.


09/13/13 10:00am

BATTLESHIP TEXAS BACK IN ACTION The leaky ol’ boat is taking on a new role in national security: This week, it has become the training ground for a 6-ft.-long drug-sniffing robot tuna. A group out of Boston has designed the BIOSwimmer, described in the Sugar Land Sun as a “highly maneuverable, unmanned underwater vehicle that is equipped with a sophisticated suite of sensors.” Already having served dutifully in 2 world wars, the veteran ship is now helping to protect our ports:The test team is planting packages of mock contraband of varying sizes in tight, hard-to-reach spaces on the battleship’s hull and putting the BIOSwimmer through the paces to see if it can successfully detect them.” [Sugar Land Sun; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia

03/12/13 4:00pm

$17.5M TO BE SPENT REPAIRING BATTLESHIP TEXAS Leaking and taking on Ship Channel water since last summer, Battleship Texas will be receiving some structural repairs beginning this April: Texas Parks and Wildlife announced today — the 99th anniversary of the ship’s call to action — that a $17.5 million contract with a North Carolina firm will cover “about half” the repairs needed; they’ll be “a first step,” says TPWD’s Scott Stover, to ready the sinking ship for its eventual dry berth. During the repairs, history seekers and field trippers should still be able to see some significant sights: “[T]he ship will remain open to the public as conditions allow, and visitors will see plenty of activity at the site, as well as construction equipment and an access barge on the north side of the ship.” [Texas Parks and Wildlife; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia

08/17/12 2:44pm

Over in La Porte, a Bayside Terrace home has — a bay-side terrace. The waterfront property has a panoramic view of Upper Galveston Bay and its existing spill islands and wildlife refuge. And that vista just dodged a soggy bullet: On Wednesday the Port of Commission nixed a plan that would have placed a 475-acre island of sludge in the bay in the middle of it, built from material dug up from dredging at the Bayport Container Terminal in neighboring Shoreacres, near the Houston Yacht Club. (The dredging will go ahead, but the material go onto berms at Atkinson Island instead.)


06/25/12 2:46pm

“It was very eerie to see the stern deck of the ship so close to the water,” writes Swamplot reader J.W. Lodge IV, who visited the leaking Battleship Texas by boat yesterday, and who notes that a news story from Friday linked to in this morning’s Headlines post — which claimed that the dual-world-war veteran parked by the San Jacinto Monument had been repaired and reopened — seemed a bit off. “As far as I can tell they’ve got a long way to go with the pumps,” he reports. The ship was reopened for tours on Saturday, but beginning that evening more problems developed. As of this morning, about 1,500 gallons of ship-channel water were pouring in each minute, from 2 separate areas of new leaks in the vessel’s rear port side. Also developing in the water around the ship: an oil sheen.

Photo from Sunday: J.W. Lodge IV

10/25/11 2:05pm

The Sylvan Beach Pavilion, a dancehall and conference hall on Harris County’s only public beach — with a 10,000-sq.-ft. glass-walled ballroom overlooking Galveston Bay — has been boarded up since its pummeling by Hurricane Ike in 2008. But thanks to a $3.6 million grant awarded last fall by the state Dept. of Rural Affairs, the modern building at Sylvan Beach Park is now headed for restoration to its original 1956 glory (above) — with a few tweaks directed by the architects at Kirksey to gussy it up for weddings, quinceañeras, local meetings, retirement parties, and other La Porte events. Construction is scheduled to start early next year and take 9 months.


05/03/11 4:15pm

Houston ranks 5th — below Long Island, Miami, Virginia Beach, New Orleans, and Tampa — in potential property damage from storm surges, according to an annual report from Corelogic. The company figures the resulting storm surge from a Category 5 Hurricane here would likely produce $20 billion in property loss — well behind Long Island’s $99 billion score. Can’t this city do a little better? We’ve got the high-hurricane-risk and low-lying-properties parts down cold. If we can just boost the property values a bit in those areas, we’ll be rolling with the high-stakes big boys next time.

The top at-risk area Zip Codes, according to the company’s report: 77573, 77554, 77059, 77571, 77062, 77566, 77586, 77539, 77546, and 77521. Locally, League City leads the way!

Image: Corelogic