Tuesday, July 25, 2006

In the Neighborhood

When Lauren and I decided to move in together one of our major desires was to remain in the Montrose area. We both love the history, eccentricity, and vibe of the area. Montrose is now known as the trendy and gay area of Houston, but Montrose Street was once one of Houston’s most elegant thoroughfares. You can read more about our neighborhood here.

While out walking the neighborhood with Sam, we have discovered remnants of Montrose’s notable past. Lately I’ve been carrying my camera to document some of these discoveries. All of these homes are within six blocks of our place.

This first picture is of the historic Waldo Mansion. From the plaque out front I discovered that this the oldest occupied house in Houston. It was built in 1885 at the intersection of Caroline and Rusk Streets (essentially what is now downtown Houston), and was moved to its present site in 1905. The house was built by a man who had married the daughter of a railroad executive and then later became an executive with that same railroad company.

The second picture is actually of the house right next door to the Waldo Mansion. Unfortunately I know nothing about this home, but I remain fascinated by it and hope to find out more. Trust me this picture does not do it justice at all.

This last one is a house that is located even closer to ours. It is probably the largest dwelling I have ever seen up close. It is very run down, but has amazing architectural features. I imagine that there has to be an interesting history behind it, but again I have been unable to locate any information about it as of yet.

Through my research, however, I did discover other fascinating tidbits about homes in our neighborhood. For instance, around the corner from the first two houses at 435 Hawthorne, is where Lyndon B. Johnson lived when he taught at Old Sam Houston High School in the 1920's. This home is apparently still owned by the Johnson family. I haven’t been by it yet, but plan to shortly. In addition, near St. Thomas University are several other interesting homes. A home in which Howard Hughes once lived at 3921 Yoakum has actually been incorporated into the University. In addition, near the campus sits The W.W. Fondren, Sr. house, built in 1923, which is seemingly the last of the many mansions that once lined Montrose Street.

Unfortunately gentrification and the lack of zoning laws have not been kind to this area. There are now far too many little rundown apartment complexes and shiny new condos and town homes. If I had the money I would love to buy up properties in the area one at a time. However, rather than tearing the old places down I would love to restore them to their forgotten splendor. Beyond that I would tear down the rundown apartments and build modern houses that fit the old architectural style of the neighborhood. Unfortunately this is only a pipedream, but it is nice to imagine as history literally passes me by during my strolls. At any rate this neighborhood is the major reason I can never imagine moving out to the suburbs.


Blogger mom said...

What great discoveries! It'd be fantastic to be able to do what you'd like with those homes. Of all the houses my parents had, the one by the country club was my favorite.

7/25/2006 10:19 PM  
Blogger oldtennisbum said...

Only in America do we tear down historic houses or bldgs and put up something worse.

7/26/2006 7:57 AM  
Blogger Amy P said...

Let's not EVEN get me started on what they are doing to historic buildings in Lincoln!!!!!!!! Makes me sick. Our once eclectic campus now all looks like the Beatle center. How do the architecture students study now?

BTW- the architecture out here is amazing as well. I'd rather see it run down than torn down anyday!

7/26/2006 9:27 AM  

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