A look into Houston's retail past

This Week in Demolition: A philanthropist’s River Oaks Mansion and an abandoned Federal Building

This Week in Demolition, we’re spoiled for choice! Let’s start out with some houses of note. Our most expensive residential demolition of the week is no doubt 3315 Del Monte. Located in the heart of old River Oaks this 1960s mansion is not original to the neighborhood. It was built by Albert Alkek, one of the early pioneers of the Texas petrochemical industry being involved early on with Sinclair oil. After Mr. Alkek and his wife passed it seems the house was put under a charitable trust which has donated tons of money throughout the state most notably to Texas State who have named a library in their honor. Next up, we have a house whose history is not nearly as old, built in 2010 1614 Lakeshore seems an unlikely contender for this post. However, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey is still being dealt with nearly three years later, and it’s important to recognize this. Visiting Kingwood earlier this year, I drove through neighborhoods along the San Jacinto River and can attest that this house was definitely flooded well into the second floor. Unfortunately many houses that were flooded, but didn’t qualify or refused a FEMA buyout, were left in limbo to be dealt with at a future date. Well it seems that we have finally reached that date, with the only option being to demolish and move further away from the river. Finally, in terms of important houses lets also take a look at 4719 Jackson while not particularly noteworthy this is a 1930s Cottage that has been lovingly updated. It looks like very little expansion has been done giving the space an overall cozy and homey feel. Also check out the small details like the exposed piping for the shower head. Its obvious someone spent a lot of money to bring this house up to this shape, and it’s sad that it will be demolished. While I do understand and appreciate the call for increased multifamily dwellings, this is an example of a well maintained, masonry house that would have been premier housing in its time.

A photo of the building from 2012 Photo: Patrick Feller Licensed by CC/2.0

Let’s get on to the “entrée” of this week’s post, the 1939 U.S. Appraisers Stores Building. Located a 7300 Wingate along the Port of Houston, by the Federal Government. As the Port of Houston grew so did the number of international imports heading through town. As I’m sure you’re aware, foreign goods are inspected by customs and are given a value for tax purposes upon their arrival in the U.S. As such this building and the giant warehouse across the street were built and connected to the railways and roads of the Port of Houston. The building served its purpose for over 50 years before being eventually sold to the Port Authority. The building was an excellent asset to the port inspecting over millions of articles during its lifetime. However, lacking maintenance and much needed asbestos abatement caused the building to decay over the years. It seems that the interior has been vacant at least upwards of 10 years now. While I’m not sure what is planned for the property next, a plot of land across the street is home to a new gas shipping terminal. If you’re interested more photos can be found here.

This is a list of the buildings which received a City of Houston demolition permit the week before this post.


Residential Demolitions

1403 Cheshire Ln, Houston, TX 77018– Oak Forest, Likely 50s Ranch, Photos
1010 W 41st St, Houston, TX 77018– Garden Oaks, 1950s largely updated, Photos
815 & 817 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008– Greater Heights, Duplex and out building, Lot photos
1905 Chippendale Rd, Houston, TX 77018– Oak Forest, 1950s, Photos
4719 Jackson St, Houston, TX 77004-Macgregor/Blodgett Park, 1930s Cottage, Photos
4002 Newshire Dr, Houston, TX 77025– Woodshire, 1950s, Photos
3420 Rosedale St, Houston, TX 77004– Southwood, 1940s Duplex, Garage Only, Photos
829 & 831 Fisher St, Houston, TX 77018– Garden Oaks, 1950s Home and Garage Apartment, Photos
3315 Del Monte Dr, Houston, TX 77019– River Oaks, 1960s Colonial Style Mansion, Photos
2315 Woodhead St, Houston, TX 77019– Plainview, 1930s Cottage, Photos
1614 Lakeshore Dr, Humble, TX 77339– Forest Cove, 2010s House on Piers, Likely flooded during Harvey, Photos
501 W 34th St, Houston, TX 77018– Garden Oaks,1940s House, Garage Only, Photos
6322 Crestville St, Houston, TX 77033– Southcrest
4708 Englewood St, Houston, TX 77026– Liberty Gardens
9010 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055– Spring Branch, House on property of St. Peter’s Church
4707 Devon St, Houston, TX 77027– Afton Oaks, 1950s Ranch
1514 Houston Ave, Houston, TX 77007– Taylor Heights, Shotgun Likely 40s Maybe 30s.
7711 Hereford St, Houston, TX 77087– Sims Bayou Estates
21622 Lake Point Dr, Humble, TX 77339– Northshore Extension, Flooded during Harvey
1710 Gentry St, Houston, TX 77009– Not completely convinced there’s actually a house back there.
1927 Bolsover St, Houston, TX 77005– Southampton Place

Non-Residential Demolitions
4506 & 4512 Steffani Ln, Houston, TX 77041– Former location of Watson Grinding and Valve Services. Filed Bankruptcy in February 2020 after the deadly January Explosion.
7300 Wingate St, Houston, TX 77011– 1939 U.S. Customs Federal Stores Building, Sold in 90s to city
7227 Fairway Dr, Houston, TX 77087– Hispano’s Auto Center
1316 Tidwell Rd Houston, TX 77022– Lion’s Auto Services

What do you think?