In This Issue
|Newsletter of the Houston Heights Association|
|Volume Thirty-Two, Number Twelve, December 2006|
|Click here for the print-format PDF version.|
|Click here for back issues.|
2006 Holiday Tour: Dickens in the Heights
For a Dickens of a good time, including a magical mix of holiday shopping and a glimpse into Houston’s rich history, don’t miss “Dickens in the Heights - The 2006 Heights Historic Home Tour and Holiday Market.” The festive happening comes to historic Houston Heights on Friday and Saturday, December 1-2, 2006.
Costumed in Dickens-era attire, musicians, street entertainers, and docents will turn back the pages of Houston’s history. Folks will have an opportunity to tour some of the area’s historic homes and do some serious shopping at the Holiday Market in the historic Houston Heights City Hall and Fire Station at 12th and Yale Streets.
Art exhibitors at the market include recognized Texas artists have studios in the Houston Heights area. “This is an excellent opportunity to visit with these talented artists and to purchase unique works of art as gifts or for the home,” said Sharie Beale, event chair. “One of the well-known artists, Sue Kerr, will be available to do a watercolor and pen/ink painting of your home.”
Crafters and vendors will offer a feast for the shopping appetite with a dazzling array of Victorian lace, jewelry, pampered pet gifts, gift baskets for clients and friends, luxurious bath items, to-die-for purses, exquisite Christmas decorations, one-of-a-kind home accessories, and more.
A sparkling display by the Venice Holiday Gift Gallery in Houston will leave you smiling with their artisan-made Christmas ornaments, ranging from the whimsical to elegant. These magical and delightful pieces are certain to become memory makers.
The Houston Heights Association booth will offer hand-crafted ornaments, coffee mugs, calendars, and other items created by talented Heights-area artists especially for this fundraising event. [See Holiday Market News - HHA Booth below.]
The nostalgic aromas of cinnamon and spice will be in the air as food vendors offer delicious holiday treats. Award-winning Dacapo’s Pastry Cafe will create personalized gingerbread cookies while you wait. Stop by to purchase whole or single slices of their pumpkin cheesecakes, holiday pies, and cakes. And when you get famished from the festivities, try one of their tasty sandwiches.
Victorian-themed events are planned for children at the nearby Heights Library, including a visit from jolly ol’ Saint Nick!
Adding to the mix of fun is Houston Heights First Saturday, the area’s monthly event of shopping, art, and fun. Stroll through the sidewalks of this cozy neighborhood and experience the unique mix of shops and cafes. [See December 1st Saturday below.]
Five carefully restored historic homes will go on tour at this greatly anticipated annual event sponsored by the Houston Heights Association. Three of the homes have the distinction of being on the National Register of Historic Places and two have been designated City of Houston Landmarks.
The featured homes are:
On Friday, December 1, both the Historic Home Tour and the Holiday Market will be open from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. On Saturday, December 2, the Holiday Market will be open from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM, and the Historic Home Tour will run from Noon to 9:00 PM.
Trolleys will be available to shuttle guests to tour houses, the Holiday Market, and one extra stop. “The trolley will be making a complimentary stop at All Saints Catholic Church, an example of the traditional Romanesque Revival style,” said Sharie Beale. Brother Robert, who is nationally renowned for his painted icons, will be available to discuss the icons he is creating for the church and will have small ones on hand for purchase.
Get advance tickets for $12 at Buchanan’s Native Plants, Squash Blossom, Another Place in Time, or the HHA web site. On tour days, tickets will be sold for $15 at the Fire Station or any tour home. For more information or to purchase tickets,or call 713-861-4002.
Holiday Market News - HHA Booth
Please join us on December 1 and 2 for a great opportunity to get a jump start on your holiday shopping at the Holiday Market at the Heights Fire Station. In addition to the groovy wares to be offered by area merchants, artists, and jewelers, the Holiday Market will have some custom products at the HHA Booth that are sure to be on everyone’s gift list.
2007 Historic Heights Calendar: This unique calendar will feature many of our neighborhood’s most prominent historic homes and landmarks and a sampling of our cherished bungalows. A limited number of these calendars will be available for $20 each, so get yours early.
Heights Fire Station Coffee Mugs: Everyone will want a set of these wonderful mugs. In classic black on white porcelain, the mugs will display a specially commissioned pen and ink drawing of the “1914 Houston Heights City Hall and Fire Station.” Side two of the mug will feature “Historic Houston Heights, Est. 1891.”
Art Glass Ornaments: Add to your Holiday collection with a one-of-a-kind, hand-designed glass ornament. Choose from ornaments of different shapes and designs - all created by renowned Heights artists, gifted craftspersons, and talented neighborhood children - there will be something for everyone.
Man’s (And Woman’s) Best Friends: Don’t forget those four-legged friends on your list. Choose from Holiday neck scarves and puppy and kitten needlepoint ornaments that are “paws”itively fabulous.
Of course, as always, all proceeds will be used for neighborhood beautification and other worthy projects that make the Heights a better place to live, work, and play. We look forward to seeing you at the Holiday Market!
Holiday Home Tour Docent Costume Reminder
Docents, please dress in keeping with the Victorian theme if possible. (This can be as simple as a long skirt for the ladies, vest and bowtie for the gentlemen.) Otherwise, it should be “Christmas festive” or at least “dressy casual.” Consult your Head Docent for suggestions.
The recent City approval of a condominium project in Sunset Heights endangers lot size protections everywhere.
The Houston Planning Commission has voted to approve a replat for a condominium project at 24th and Arlington that clearly violates the intent and spirit of the lot size ordinance that residents thought would protect them from high-density development. The decision has residents here and all over Houston asking if the same thing could happen on their blocks. Based on the opinion of the city legal department and Planning Director Marlene Gafrick, the answer is yes.
The Prevailing Lot Size Ordinance allows for establishment of a minimum lot size on blocks that meet specific criteria and where residents have shown sufficient support for the idea. In the approximately four years since Houston City Council enacted the ordinance, 50 blocks in Houston Heights have successfully applied for and obtained such protection, and others are working to get it.
Technically, a condo project does not violate the letter of the law because condo owners own only their individual housing units, with the dirt underneath those units being one big tract of jointly owned land. A townhome project, on the other hand, is a clear violation of the law because townhome owners own both their housing units and the land underneath them. It is the subdivision of land by a developer/builder to allow for sales of individual lots that triggers compliance with the ordinance.
City leaders have known about the condo loophole for quite some time, but have made no effort to correct it. Even a subcommittee of the planning commission that has been considering revisions to the ordinance for nearly two years has, so far, failed to craft a remedy for this problem.
The planning commission’s decision sets a dangerous precedent that places in jeopardy the protections single-family homeowners in the Heights and many other neighborhoods have worked hard to obtain. Many residents have asked what they can do about it; they can and should exercise their freedom of speech by writing, calling, and emailing Mayor White and Houston City Council members to ask that the law be changed.
Mayor Bill White
Mail to any City Council Member can be addressed to:
Council Member Peter Brown
Council Member Sue Lovell
(vacant at-large seat)
Council Member Ronald C. Green
Councilman Michael Berry
Council Member Toni Lawrence
Council Member Jarvis Johnson
Council Member Anne Clutterbuck
Council Member Ada Edwards
Council Member Addie Wiseman
Council Member M.J. Khan
Council Member Pam Holm
Council Member Adrian Garcia
Council Member Carol Alvarado
The Saint Mark’s United Methodist Church Bell Choir, well known in the Heights, will perform at our December 11 General Meeting. The choir was founded in the early 1990’s, and many of its members are Heights residents. The hand bells were donated to St. Mark’s by longtime members Estella and Jimmie Schmidt in memory of her parents, Reverend and Mrs G.C. Brannies. The choir performs regularly at worship services, at the annual outdoor Christmas pageant at St. Mark’s (December 2 and 3), and at the annual Lights in the Heights festival (December 9).
Stephanie Pettit, the Director, is also the organist at St. Mark’s UMC and is a graduate student in organ at Rice University. As an added treat, Stephanie will lead us in some Christmas caroling.
Please join us for music, refreshments, and holiday fun. That’s Monday, December 11, 7:00 PM at the Fire Station, 12th and Yale.
The Houston Heights Association is proud to have the following 2006 Platinum sponsors:
East Side Historic District Update
Over 300 homeowners have now signed the petition in favor of establishing the Houston Heights East Historic District. Although there are a number of individual blocks where support is high, overall support within the entire district falls well short of the 67% required by the city’s historic district ordinance. However, a number of positive factors are providing hope that with a concerted effort by dedicated volunteers the goal will be reached.
• Over 400 letters have been sent out to absentee owners or owners of multiple properties in the proposed district, and positive responses are beginning to come in.
• A Three Good Neighbors program is being implemented to increase the number of signed petitions. The concept is simple: sign the petition yourself and then get three of your neighbors or friends to sign.
• A subcommittee of the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission is recommending Houston City Council lower the threshold of support required for creation of historic districts from 67 percent to 51 percent. A resolution requesting this change was adopted by the HHA Board of Directors in September.
• The rate of demolition within the boundaries of the proposed historic district is slowing. Whether this is a positive trend or fluctuation in demand is not known.
• Yard signs are being distributed to increase public awareness of the petition drive. There are enough for two to three signs per block.
These steps must be coupled with an increase in volunteers who are prepared to help gather signatures of support for the historic district. In particular, there is a serious shortage of volunteers in all of the blocks south of 11th street and in the 2000, 1800, 1500 and 1100 blocks between Heights Boulevard and Oxford.
It took residents in Norhill Heights three years to obtain enough signatures for creation of the Norhill Historic District. With more volunteers, we can accomplish the job much faster.
The signature page and all of the information about the proposed historic districts and the Houston Historic Preservation Ordinance are available elsewhere in this web site; click.
WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW! If interested in volunteering, please contact the Historic District Task Force at 713-426-3240.
A check of permits issued by the City of Houston Code Enforcement Division shows a total of 6 demolition permits being issued for residential properties in Houston Heights between October 10, 2006 and November 6, 2006. Houston Heights has lost a total of 170 properties in the last year and a half.
Historic District designation is the only legal option for attempting to stop demolition and relocation of our historic structures. If you live within the boundaries of the two proposed historic districts and have not yet done so, please sign and mail in the blue petition page. The petition and additional information about the historic districts is available elsewhere on this web site; click.
Below is a list of the latest demolitions or relocations.
History for Sale
Below is a sampling of properties for sale in the Houston Heights that are at least 51 years old. All of the houses have prices under $500,000, and many are under $300,000. Many have been completely renovated while others need some tender loving care to reveal their true potential.
This addition to the newsletter is another component in HHA’s effort to stem the demolition and relocation of our historic houses and instead encourage renovation, restoration, and expansion. If you are not in the market for a new home yourself, please pass the list along to someone who is. Likewise, if you know of a home for sale that is not listed here, please let us know so that we may include it on next month’s list.
The Houston Heights Association is proud to have the following Winter 2006-2007 Silver Sponsors:
Director Election Results
The Election Committee announced at the November General Meeting that Sharie Beale, Janice Evans-Davis, Kathy Russell, Donald Tomek, and Mark Williamson had been elected to the HHA Board for 2007-2009, and Chris Synek had been elected for 2007-2008. Congratulations to them all.
The Heights Urban Forest Committee meets on Tuesday, December 5, 6:30 PM at the Heights Fire Station. Join them to participate in 2007 activities in Our Heights Urban Forest - it’s the perfect time to get involved, to make Heights Trees Count!
Other meeting topics planned for this winter include a Walk in the Woods with an Urban Forester and the Tree Registry. In the spring, there will be a second Heights Trees Count with the City of Houston on the West Side. In late summer, meeting topics will include the Tree Registry with a Treasure Hunt and another Walk in the Woods with an Urban Forester. In the fall, we’ll be doing another Heights Trees Count with the City of Houston, this time on the North End.
Community Improvement Nominations
Once again, it is time to look around the neighborhood and see who has been improving it. The nomination form and rule sheet for the 2006 Community Improvement Awards are on the HHA web site..
The 2007 Houston Heights Association sponsorship drive has officially begun. The HHA greatly depends on our area businesses to become sponsors for any or all of our fantastic annual events. Sponsorship is available by the season, and each season holds a major event.
Sponsorship is a great opportunity to promote your own business through high quality collateral material produced for each event. For further details, please contact Chris Silkwood by e-mail toor phone 713-880-1694.
Can You Help Us Throw A Party?
We’re looking for volunteers to organize the Volunteer Appreciation and Awards Dinner, which is scheduled for the last Sunday in February. This is the event at which the Houston Heights Association recognizes the many volunteers who make the Association work for all of us and presents several special awards. If you can help, please contact President Robin Franklin, leave a message at 713-861-4002 option 8, or send email to.
The Houston Heights Association is proud to have the following Winter 2006-2007 Bronze Sponsors:
Summary of October Board Meeting
Treasurer Jim Potter called the meeting to order at 6:35 PM. The minutes of the September meeting were approved.
Chris Silkwood attended the Board meeting to discuss the 2007 HHA Sponsorship Campaign. Chris is always looking for new contacts to make presentations to. These sponsorships are very important to the Houston Heights neighborhood because the sponsorships support the many projects and the maintenance of properties in the Houston Heights. Chris also discusses the donation that artist John Palmer would like to make to the Heights Boulevard esplanade. Chris will gather more information so that the Board can consider the donation. Heights Boulevard esplanade is actually a City Park and the City Parks and Recreation Department will also have to be contacted.
Jim Potter gives the financial report. The first annual Heights Bike & Skate Rally and Scavenger Hunt made a small profit despite the bad weather conditions. Paul Carr of Torture Tours chaired the event and hopes to see it happen again in 2007. Jim reports that the auditors that HHA has used in the past, Blazek & Vetterling, LLP, will be used again in 2007. The policy for approving small expenditures ($0-$499) was amended and approved by the Board.
Progress is being made by the Historic District Committee. Signs have been ordered that show support of the Historic District. These signs will be placed in yards with the homeowners’ permission. Several of the Board Members have met with Houston City Council Members to discuss preservation of the Houston Heights neighborhood.
Sheila Tybor addressed the Board on behalf of the Education Committee. Hamilton Middle School needs a Community Partner in order to qualify for a TEA Grant. Sheila is asking the Houston Heights Association to be that Community Partner. A motion is made and unanimously passes that HHA agrees to serve as the Community Partner. Additional discussion centers on encouraging parents of the schools HHA supports and helps to become members of HHA and that the schools educate the children of these schools to become good neighborhood citizens by avoiding gang and graffiti activity. In 2007 the School Board Representative for the Heights area will be invited to be a speaker at one of the General Meetings.
Jim Bennett reports that TxDOT will begin reconstruction of the I-10 feeder roads inside the Loop. Small trees will be removed and replanted in different locations. When construction is complete, the feeder roads will be heavily planted with new trees. Jim Bennett has drafted a letter to ask that TxDOT clean up the right-of-way under I-10 at Heights Boulevard and at Yale Street. This is also the time to work with TxDOT on additional landscaping.
The Community Improvement Awards and Dinner is discussed. A Chair of the Awards Committee is needed. The 2007 HHA President is discussed. The meeting adjourned at 8:35.
Please welcome the following new or returning members to the Houston Heights Association.
Dale & Cynthia Habenicht
Stephen & Jennifer Kirk
Marcy & Douglas Newman
Stop Light Fire Drills
Bandit signs are another form of visual blight. The prolific advertisements for weight loss, clearing credit, tree work, and long-past yard sales seem to hang around for weeks after. When I get stopped at a traffic light, I jump out of the car and remove those pesky signs, reminiscent of those fire drills from high school days. Aside from the smile I get remembering way back when, the neighborhood gets cleaner.
While walking the dog, jogging, or pulling into a local business, if you see those signs, take the time to yank a few down. Normally I leave the lost dog signs until they are no longer legible, but everything else is fair game. We really don’t need to know who had a yard sale last month. Save the trees, poles, and traffic boxes by removing those pesky bandit signs when you see them.
This is an easy additional thing you can do today to help beautify the wonderful place we call home. You can reach me at.
Heights Police Storefront Moved
The Heights Police Storefront has relocated. The storefront previously located at 910 Durham is now located at 1127 North Shepherd, just south of Tommy Vaughn Ford. At the moment, there is no working phone number for the North Shepherd location. You may refer all inquiries and questions to the Lopez Police Storefront at 1050 Quitman, telephone number 713-222-5196.
Our thanks to the following for their generous support of the programs of the Houston Heights Association.
December 1st Saturday
Eat, drink, shop, and be merry. Come out and join us.
Imagine wood smoke wafting from the chimneys of our Heights Victorian homes, the smell of warm mulled wassail coming from a number of different doorways, carolers singing their hearts out to win the Mistletoe Madness Caroling Contest, neighborhood streets with trolleys full of people, Holiday Home Tours, and enough funky and fabulous shopping to earn the fitting name Heights Mistletoe Madness. This kind of holiday shopping beats the mall hands down.
In conjunction with Historic Heights 1st Saturday, Heights businesses - the whole Heights - are extending the day into evening for a 1st Saturday of December like no other. Gifts that you won’t find anywhere else - fresh, original art, jewelry, clothing, home furnishings, antiques, furniture. Finish your shopping or start it. Stroll the streets or take a trolley with a cup of warm wassail to spur you on. Try the different wassail stations and pick up recipes. Hear live music. See good art. Buy really great gifts outside a mall! Try a new restaurant or revisit an old favorite. Enjoy the chill in the air. Tour the Victorian homes. Just come out and spend the first Saturday in December at home in the Heights.
Free admission, free trolleys, art, live entertainment, retail shops, restaurants, cafes, and galleries open for visiting and shopping. Ample free parking. Visitfor map, coupons, and more information.
Calendar of Events for December 2006 - January 2007
HHA headquarters: The Fire Station is on the corner of Yale and 12th Streets.
Every Wednesday and Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Historic Houston’s salvage warehouse is open. Call 713-522-0542 or visit their web sitefor more information.
December 2, 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM, Sacred Harp Singing at Heights Church of Christ, Heights Blvd. at 16th Street. Sing old-timey songs based on melodies from ballads, folk tunes and marches from colonial America. Free. For more information, call 713-861-0922.
December 2, 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Meet and Greet Pet Event, 1136 Heights. Have a holiday picture taken with your pet or adopt a new one. For more information, visitor call 713-861-1155.
December 9, 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, Woodland Heights Civic Association presents Lights in the Heights on Euclid and Byrne between Norhill esplanade and Florence. For more information, visit .
January 25-27 and February 1-3, Opera in the Heights presents L’Elisir d’amore by Donizetti at Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Blvd. For more information or tickets, visit or call 713-861-5303.
March 22-24 and 29-31, Opera in the Heights presents Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Blvd. For more information, visit or call 713-861-5303.
February 25, Awards Dinner
April 13-15, Spring Home Tour
June 3, Fun Run
October 21, Bicycle/Skate Rally
November 30 - December 1, Holiday Home Tour
Copyright and Submissions
The Heights is published monthly by the Houston Heights Association. Its purpose is to acknowledge achievements and to inform HHA members of events.
Copyright 2006, the Houston Heights Association and/or the authors unless otherwise noted.
Newsletter inquiries, suggestions, or submissions should be directed to:
Editor, The Heights, P.O. Box 70735, Houston, TX 77270-0735;
email ; or leave a message on 713-861-4002.
Staff and Contributors
Editor: Mark R. Williamson
Assistant Editor: Kathleen S. Williamson
Janet Buchheit, Angela DeWree, Janice Evans-Davis, Susan Love Fitts, Lauriel Hindman, Paul Luccia, Karen Mann, Chris Silkwood, Kelly Simmons, Jonathan Smulian.