Surreal artwork and rustic structural components left exposed seem to meld into a single composition within the Fifth Ward home and studio of artist Bert Long Jr., who died in February 2013. Fifteen years ago, the attached double-shotgun row houses had been painstakingly renovated (and combined) as the year-long thesis project of Brett Zamore, then a Rice University graduate architecture student. Long, who grew up nearby and was returning to Houston at the time, bought the property near the end of its transformation but before an art studio was added — for
$30,000 $70,000 — and lived there with his wife, artist Joan Batson. The mixed-use property is located in the Pinecrest Court neighborhood near Wheatley High School, east of Waco St. and south of I-10. It was listed for sale this morning, with an asking price of $200,000.
Accounts of the 1998-1999 project, which was featured in Dwell magazine, a few local publications, and a book on living in small spaces, describe Zamore’s unsentimental transformation of the previously derelict building into a 960-sq.-ft. home, with funding from grants and donations. Before Zamore got to it, the property had been vacant for 15 years; the Fifth Ward Community Development Corp. was the owner. The extensive redo included replacing the beams beneath the sagging floors and removing many of the interior walls, combining the twin single-home footprints into a modified space with a more flexible floor plan. Layers of varnish preserved sections of interior shiplap walls that were left intact, such as in the living room (shown in the photo at the top of this story). Zamore also left the joists exposed beneath the corrugated tin roof he installed.
The kitchen (and yes, that is IKEA cabinetry) sits at the center of one side of the home. There’s a passage from it into the home’s lone bathroom:
A series of sliding doors, also preserved but repurposed originals, section off various functions, including access to the bedroom side of the home:
The master bedroom is at the back:
In the front bedroom, a work station with a fixed L-shaped partial wall now fronts the entry door on that side of the home:
There’s also a separate studio space with its own bathroom on the 5,831-sq.-ft. lot:
Its clerestory windows cap the 1-car garage, accessed from the last bit of the street before it dead-ends into the back of the campus of Henderson Elementary School.
The home-studio has a dog-leg lot, which hides it from the street; the porch end of the home’s front yard abuts the school playground.