03/03/11 12:20pm

These gold-colored turret-toppers were at long last delivered to the Hare Krishna Temple on 34th St. at Golf Ave. this week, reports a Swamplot reader who sent in photos. Construction on a new 24,000-sq.-ft. temple at the facility — scheduled to include a vegetarian restaurant inside — began in 2005. The Houston congregation of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness first moved into a former church at 1320 W. 34th St. in 1984. Two deities made out of brass — but which looked like they might be gold — were stolen from an altar at the temple last October. Here’s what the new building is supposed to look like when it’s finished:


02/04/11 5:43pm

The Episcopal church on the triangular block near the head of Telephone Rd. at Dallas and Eastwood is headed for demolition, according to information posted on its Facebook page. The congregation plans to vacate the Church of the Redeemer after a service on February 27th. A letter posted from senior warden Daniel Coleman declares the building “no longer safe to occupy”:

According to Tellepsen Construction and Studio Red Architects, the existing condition of the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems, the chunks of concrete separating and falling from our buildings (“spalling”), the lack of a fire alarm system, and the inadequacy of emergency exit signs and lights is more than enough to revoke our Certificate of Occupancy, if the Fire Marshall inspected the buildings. The cost of addressing just these issues would be $5 – 7 million. Neither our congregation nor our Diocese can afford that; and even if all those things were repaired, our congregation can no longer afford to maintain the building.

“The buildings will eventually be demolished, but we believe that the mural will be removed and preserved in the hope of future use,” adds a parishioner organizing a congregation “memory book.” Also likely to be saved, at least until the current contract expires: the bell tower, where T-mobile has a microwave relay. The original church on that site was built in 1920 as the Eastwood Community Church; Tellepsen was the contractor for its 1932 replacement. Additional structures were added in the forties and fifties, along with the sanctuary mural, called “Christ of the Workingman.”

Photo: Church of the Redeemer

08/06/10 1:55pm

The third-most-famous retractable roof in Houston opened up for visitors last Friday for the first time in 2 years. Artist James Turrell’s Skyspace — in the Live Oaks Friends Meeting House at 1318 W. 26th St. in Shady Acres — will again be coaxing in the night sky for the public every Friday evening, starting an hour before sunset. What shut out the twilight for so long?

The ceiling’s hatch runs on rails that until recently were mounted on a wooden support that was sheathed in metal. Thanks to Houston’s semitropical climate, water worked its way into the wood and began rotting it out, [property clerk Philip] Koch said.

“We didn’t know this for sure until we actually did the repair work, but it was making some pretty ominous noises and was getting stuck,” Koch said. “We didn’t want it to get stuck in the open position because we’re open to the heavens and the rain comes in.”

Members initially thought the system could be repaired, but further assessment showed it would need to be redesigned and replaced, adding a $50,000 price tag to the $100,000 the Live Oak Friends Meeting had already received from the Houston Endowment based on early estimates.

The new design replaced the metal-sheathed wooden curb with what Koch described as “a piece of pipe, basically, that’s square in cross section and that has special pieces on the side – both to keep the hatch from moving off the rails and also to keep it in place in the event of a hurricane. That had to be custom made, and so did the pieces to attach it to the roof.”

Photos: Flickr user TxTamz (Meeting House); Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery (Skyspace)

02/12/10 9:47am

Update, 2/15:
As Miz Brooke Smith notes in a comment below, the report turns out not to be true.

The congregation of Immanuel Lutheran Church in the Heights has reversed itself and voted not to tear down its 1932 brick sanctuary building after all, abc13 reports. Instead, they’ve decided to turn it into a museum.

Will it be a Heights art museum, as proposed and promoted by local gallery owner and engineer Gus Kopriva? No. Congregants voted to turn the structure at the corner of 15th and Cortlandt into a museum of Lutheran history.

Photo of Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1448 Cortlandt St.: Flickr user dey37

12/22/09 11:26am

Immanuel Lutheran Church has a signed contract to demolish its original sanctuary structure at the corner of 15th St. and Cortlandt in the Heights this summer. But art gallery owner and structural engineer Gus Kopriva wants to turn the 1932 building into an art museum instead.

Kopriva, who was involved in the recent renovation of the Heights Theater and owns Redbud Gallery on 11th St., is scheduled to present his concept to the church today. It would involve a long-term lease and a new nonprofit organization to raise money for the renovation, writes Allan Turner in the Chronicle:

“It’s been my long-term dream to create a Texas arts mecca,” Kopriva said. The museum, which he would call the Heights Arts Museum (HAM), would also house art archives, he said.

Backing Kopriva’s proposal are the Houston Heights Association and the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, both of which have struggled to save the church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photo of Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1448 Cortlandt St.: Flickr user dey37

11/11/09 11:56am

DOWNSIZING THE GALVESTON CHURCH Archbishop Daniel DiNardo details the demo list: “The St. Therese of Lisieux mission building on the Bolivar Peninsula already has been demolished. The new plan adds Our Mother of Mercy church, also on the peninsula, to the list to be torn down. Members of Our Mother of Mercy’s congregation, who have opposed the archdiocese’s plans through litigation, said via e-mail Monday that the church’s fate was still to be decided. They said there would be a mediation session on the issue Friday. Ancillary buildings, but not the main church structures, will be removed at both the Holy Rosary and Sacred Heart campuses. The lot and buildings at Reina de La Paz are slated to be sold. The buildings that comprise the St. Peter the Apostle site are all to be either destroyed or sold. Historic stained glass windows, sacred statues, artwork and other items of architectural or symbolic interest will be preserved, Auxiliary Bishop Joe S. Vasquez said. ‘The church intends to keep them. We won’t throw them away or sell them, and will reuse them locally if possible.’” [Galveston County Daily News]

11/02/09 2:37pm

Blogger Robert Boyd does what every Houstonian who’s driven the Eastex Freeway has been meaning to do — one day: get off the freeway and see what the deal is with that brightly lit marble and marbleish Greco-Roman edificial smorgasbord on the 59 feeder road:

When I was taking pictures, I got a chance to speak with the young watchman. He told me that the church took five years to build. He offered to let me see the interior, but I wasn’t allowed to take pictures there. A shame, because as mindblowing as the outside is, the inside is even moreso.


10/21/09 4:34pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THERE’S BLACK GOLD IN THEM THAR CHURCH! “I was involved 7 years ago to save the old church but it was a battle then. The people of Immanuel don’t know what they have. They want to demo the church so they can move on to phase three . . . of their master plan. Problem is they don’t have enough money to finish phase two much less start phase three. One of the reasons, I was told by a trustee, that they are demoing the bldg. now is that a couple of their old members died and left them some money . . . He went on to say that one of the [deceased] left them some oil well money not much he said but just enough to maybe pay the light bill each month. They have an oil well over there right now and don’t even know it. Yea it will take money and effort but I guarentee every girl in the Heights would love to get married in that old beautiful church. . . . The church is not rotten as some say. that thing is solid, some remodel work and that Bldg. could be a gold mine for the church. If they do tear it down it will be a shame.” [Mike Batterson, commenting on Can This Lutheran Church Be Saved?]

05/04/09 3:15pm

Many of the buildings on the campus were completed last August, but this weekend marked the official grand opening of “one of the largest Buddhist developments in the nation,” just northeast of Hempstead. The American Bodhi Center, a new retreat on 515 acres off FM 2979 in Waller County, was created by the Texas Buddhist Association — in part to relieve crowding at the 1,500-family-strong Jade Buddha Temple in Alief.

Among the new buildings: the Memorial Hall pictured above. There’s also a new Meditation Hall:


06/06/08 12:48pm

Tien Tao Temple, aka Chong Hua Sheng Mu Holy Palace, Ashford Point Dr., Houston

Noting that the site is “relatively maintained and free of vandalism and graffiti,” Robert Kimberly reports back from his recent pilgrimage to Ashford Point Dr., where he got the apparently-still-empty Chong Hua Sheng Mu Holy Palace to smile for the camera.

A few more highlights from the photo session, below:


05/05/08 12:29pm

Tien Tao Temple, or Chong Hua Sheng Mu Holy Palace, Ashford Point, Houston

One highlight of David Beebe and John Nova Lomax’s Richmond Ave. walking tour mentioned here last week was Lomax’s description of this strange vision on the #25 bus route to Mission Bend:

Towards the end of the line, the bus turned left off Richmond and into a weird suburban residential neighborhood. Ashford Point, the street we were on, was bisected by a greenspace in which there was a sunken trail, which ducked under the streets in little tunnels.

And then there was… this thing, this sprawling empty complex, this five-story square building topped by a 40-foot golden geodesic dome, flanked by two smaller domes. Two exterior staircases flanked these orbs – the overall effect was something like a sawed-off Mayan temple of the sun.

The whole compound was ringed by an iron fence, and then there was another huge fence around the entry to the building. The vast parking lot was empty, and there were no signs nor apparently even a mailbox. It was completely surreal. Neither Beebe nor I had a clue what it was – Beebe thought it might be the private residence of a very weird Arab sheik. I thought at first that it might be a mosque, but it didn’t look much like one closer up.

After the jump: What was it?