Under Construction: The Brookesmith House with the Big Ass Porch Fan

Architect and Swamplot reader Jeromy Murphy sends in a construction update on the house he and his wife — also an architect — are building for themselves at 502 Archer St. in Brookesmith, “not too far from the container house.” How’s the family project going?

Lori and I designed it together, proving that a husband/wife architecture team can succeed (as long as the husband just agrees to everything his architect wife wants).

One of those design decisions that came so easily: the 8-ft. Isis Big Ass Fan that’ll hang from exposed rafters on a porch overlooking a new retaining wall. The fan isn’t installed yet, but you can see the rafters in this photo:


Murphy says the house will be a single-story “contemporary/mod,” with 3 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths. And the site is new too:

On the south side of the property there is a big hole, located within the Fugate ROW that was apparently at one time a tributary to the Little White Oak Bayou. This hole extended on to the property. At some point (pre-war?), they put in a 120″ drain pipe that runs diagonally across the south end of my property. . . . It’s really just a big hole with a drain at the bottom. The hole took up most of my property, but I had it filled in. The storm drain that drains the hole was undisturbed. . . . When the city put down the pipe and built roads around and over it, they never bothered to fill in this part.

You can see what it looked like before the retaining wall if you check the street view on google maps.

Photos: Jeromy and Lori Murphy

15 Comment

  • Looks badass to me. I love the eaves and I’d personally really love to have a big-ass fanned porch.

  • I like how the designers paid attention to the architecture of the older homes in the neighborhood. The smaller scale, coupled with the large over-hanging eaves and the south-facing porch will result in a house that integrates nicely with its neighbors, while also providing comfortable indoor and outdoor spaces for the occupants. Well done.

  • The “big hole” still wants to be a bayou and still drains the neighborhood during floods. Before Mr. Murphy filled it in, it drained more than it now can and also provided a bit of natural green space. There are plenty of other vacant lots in the area that didn’t have to be filled in to be built on. Other builders have been putting up spec houses on the remaining areas of this tributary, paving over contours that still collect water. At least this cool house isn’t another spec box, but the choice of site has removed desirable green space that was a neighborhood amenity.

  • I hear you, Miz.

  • Miz Brooke Smith,
    I appreciate your concern, but the drainage capacity of the hole has not been altered. There have been some issues with maintaining the ditch at the bottom of the hole so there has been some standing water. Part of this is due to the tractor the City uses to mow, messing up my drainage ditches. Over time, that will be resolved.

    I also understand your desire to have more green space in the neighborhood, but this “green space”, used as a dumping ground before I purchased it, is my private property.

    It will take a while for us to remove the dead trees and fix all of the landscaping, but I think you will like the end result.

  • I’m glad you’re building a cool house in the neighborhood and not another stucco suburban spec house. Will it have a metal roof?

  • Having been a former neighbor of Mr. Murphy’s, Miz, he is a man of his word, he is a responsible neighbor. Withhold judgment until the project is finished. I’ll bet you end up very pleased, with the home and with the new neighbors.

  • Mr. Murphy,
    You sir have a very impressive home in the making. I cant wait until the big ass fan is installed and we can see the pictures.

    Correct me if I am wrong but the land that you built on had several feet of top soil removed (stolen) in its history. Filling in the land had to happen to keep the yard from becoming a mosquito breading ground, or swamp. I guess I understand the desire to have “green space” in a neighborhood, but in our area (and every other that I know of) vacant lots that are not designated as “parks” or “wildlife preserve” are going to be built on. I may be a bit ignorant to the specific’s but if the neighborhood drains though YOUR property, that’s a problem that needed to be fixed, and you should be commended for having the gumption, know how, and resources to safely protect your land.

    Sounds to me “Miz” Smith time would be better spent having the city of Houston deal with any “perceived” drainage problem, rather than harassing you over a project you should be very proud of.

    Jeremy L. Rice

  • Great to watch the house take shape. From watching Jeromy build with legos(as a kid) to building a real home is great fun. He and Lori make a good team.
    From my view (even if I am a little prejudiced as his mother) I think the house and what they have done to the hole that was a dumping ground is already an improvement. Can’t wait to watch the 4th ofJuly fireworks from the porch.

  • Thank you all for your nice comments. We are looking forward to living in this neighborhood partly because of our experience living in the nearby East Sunset Heights and because it’s obvious that Brookesmith has an active and involved community that cares about the neighborhood.

    The roof will be metal. The majority of the siding will also be metal, but there will be some Hardie trim around the windows and Hardie siding on the front “feature” wall. The floors are diamond polished concrete in all of the living areas.

  • As a Brooke Smith resident, I’m excited about any progress that takes place in the neighborhood. This house is just a few blocks away and we’ve enjoyed watching it take shape and definitely consider it progress. As someone who routinely cleans up old tires and other items that are dumped in the neighborhood, I have to agree that the space is now much cleaner. I say, “Welcome to the neighborhood!”.

  • After reading this article, I took a detour this weekend to see the house. It looks better in person than in the construction photos. It looks like construction/renovation activity in Brooke Smith is picking up, compared to a year ago.

  • Wow! some people are stuck in the past and some people are progresive. Tex which one are you? It amazes me that people love bad reproductions of bad Perry homes but say “fugly” to new ideas.

  • I just moved into the property across the Fugate ROW from the Murphys. Hi neighbors!

    I’ll run over to say hello sometime soon (we should be all moved in by the end of the month), and I’d love to pick your brain about the grading work you did on your side of Fugate.