In This Issue
|Newsletter of the Houston Heights Association|
|Volume Thirty-Five, Number Five, May 2009|
|Click here for the print-format PDF version.|
|Click here for back issues.|
|Click here to return to main HHA site.|
Heights Fun Run
Dust off those running/walking shoes for one of Houston’s most popular small runs - the fast out-and-back 5K course on scenic Heights Boulevard starts and finishes at Marmion Park at Heights Boulevard and 18th Street. The 24th annual Heights Fun Run is set for Saturday, June 6, 2009.
The 5K Fun Run starts at 7:30 AM, the 5K Walk starts at 7:35 AM, and the After Race Party festivities begin at 8:00 AM. There is also a fun Kids’ 1K that starts at 8:30 AM. Then, celebrate your victory by joining us at the Post Race Party and Awards Ceremony, with entertainment, fabulous door prizes, and great refreshments, including tacos, fresh fruit, bagels, water, sports drinks, coffee, and more!
Chip Timing will be conducted by Run Wild Sports Timing. Each registrant gets an official 2009 Fun Run t-shirt.
Not a runner? Please inform your runner friends, neighbors, and co-workers about this important HHA fundraiser. Monies raised go toward the beautification of the neighborhood, among other worthy causes. If you can help us out by volunteering, please e-mail us at or call us at the number below.
For more information or to register, call the Houston Heights Association at 713-861-4002, extension 4, or visit , where you can print the registration form.
May General Meeting
Attend the May 11 HHA General Meeting to hear from wine expert, John Smaistrla, of the restaurant, Bedford. Among other wine topics, we will also hear from wine connoisseur, Bill Baldwin, and taste a fine cabernet and sauvignon blanc called Slingshot, from a small vineyard in California, which is owned and operated by the Stewart family of Houston.
If you attended the wine tasting last year, you know that the accompanying hors d’oeuvres will be delicious — presented once again by Joe Gonzalez.
The business portion of the meeting will be brief, and we would like to encourage you to bring a non-HHA-member neighbor so we can show them what a fun, small-town-like organization we truly are.
We hope to see you all there!
Campout Rained Out, Rescheduled
The 2nd annual Musicfest-Campout, scheduled for April 18, has been postponed due to rain. The new date is Saturday, May 16. The schedule outlined in the April issue remains the same.
The Houston Heights Association gratefully acknowledges the support of the following 2009 Platinum sponsors:
Residents Worry Yale Reconstruction May Endanger Trees
The City of Houston Department of Public Works has contracted with an engineering consultant to prepare plans for the first phase of the “rehabilitation” of Yale Street. While it is contemplated that Yale will eventually be improved from I-10 to 610, the first phase of the work comprises the street improvement from I-10 to 17th Street. Representatives of the city and the consultant were invited to the March HHA Land Use Committee to describe the project, which is programmed to commence construction in October. They spoke of the intention to widen Yale by approximately two feet and that this might potentially affect some 220 live oaks that line the street and are planted some three feet or less from the curb.
The Trees for Yale Project, chaired by Debra Broman, working with Trees for Houston, undertook the planting of 500 trees on Yale. The sponsor for this remarkable three-year effort that commenced in 1986 was the Greater Heights Chamber of Commerce. Through a series of public events, some $90,000 was raised to fund the operation, and the trees were nurtured by Heights neighbors for two years after planting. Of the 500 trees, only 6 were lost, and Yale was transformed into a tree-lined thoroughfare.
Apart from through traffic, Yale serves a number of locally owned businesses, a neighborhood park, historic homes, and now two historic districts recently designated by the city. It further enhances the unique character that has made the Heights such an important asset to the City of Houston. The representatives of the city were told of the neighborhood’s concern that after eighteen years of growth the preservation of these trees must be of prime importance in any plan for Yale’s rehabilitation.
To date, the City representatives have been responsive in engaging the neighborhood in conversation and have written a letter confirming their understanding of the concern for saving the trees. They have agreed to meet again in the Heights after a month to discuss preliminary design alternatives that would address these concerns. City Arborist Victor Cordoba has been assigned to the project.
Land Use Dispute in Freeland
Residents in Freeland, located just south of White Oak Drive and east of Oxford and within the area under the umbrella of the Houston Heights Association, are organizing a grass roots effort in opposition to the planned demolition of a contributing structure in the Freeland Historic District. According to documents from the Houston Planning and Development Department, there are plans to demolish the 1929 bungalow at 536 Granberry to make way for two new, four-story houses 50 feet in height and with ground floor garages. The Houston Archaeological and Historic Commission found the plans to be incompatible with the one-story, bungalow-style architecture that dominates the Freeland Historic District. As a result, there is a 90-day wait before the project may proceed.
Nearby residents are using the 90-day waiting period to try to convince the applicant to reconsider his plans. Letters and emails have been sent. In addition, yard signs like the one displayed above and bed sheets with messages of opposition regarding the planned demolition have popped up along White Oak Drive and on Granberry and Frasier streets. In addition, two formal street protests have been held [below]. As of this writing, there were indications that the applicant was reconsidering his plans, possibly opting for one, two-story house. Ultimately, the residents hope the bungalow is saved from demolition and renovated.
Should the applicant proceed with his original plan, he will need to replat the property into two lots. Information supplied to the historic commission indicated that a significant portion of the property lies within the flood plain and, therefore, cannot be built on. Residents plan to use this information to try to block the replat, arguing that there is only 6,250 square feet of space for building, not enough for two lots under the block’s 5,000 square foot minimum lot size protection.
This is the first proposed demolition since the Freeland Historic District was approved by Houston City Council earlier this year. Information presented to the historic commission indicates the property was marketed as a teardown, rather than a historic structure. There have been two previous demolitions prior to the historic district begin established. Every remaining structure, including the bungalow at 536 Granberry, is original.
There are currently three historic districts in the area under the umbrella of the Houston Heights Association. Petitioning continues for a fourth district in the area roughly bounded by 4th, Heights Blvd., 11th, and Oxford. The goal of historic designation is to deter demolitions and encourage compatible new construction on non-historic sites. The city provides tax incentives and reduced building permit fees to owners who make appropriate/compatible improvements to existing historic structures within the districts. A new design guide for the Houston Heights historic districts can help owners in determining what is, and is not, compatible. The guide is available for on line purchase on our web site (click here).
June General Meeting
Join us for “Open House in the Heights” on Monday, June 15, at 7:00 PM for fresh ideas and fabulous resources for your home and garden.
Hear Pamela O’Brien discuss quick and easy ways to upgrade your home this summer! Pamela is the owner and lead design consultant at Room Redo. She works with a variety of residential and commercial clients and provides a fast, fun and fabulously professional approach to decorating your home or office.
Room Redo makes the most of your style, budget and schedule.
Meet Tim Beeson of Houston House & Home Magazine. Hear about this wonder-filled resource headquartered in the Heights. Learn about the transformation of the H&H Magazine property on Yale from a former photography studio to a wonderful re-purposed building & gardens.
Other Heights area designers will be on hand to answer questions.
Women’s Club To Honor Law Student
The Houston Heights Women’s Club will be presenting the Founder’s Award in honor of Hortense Ward on Thursday May 7, 2009. This award is presented to the outstanding female law student from South Texas School of Law. A reception will be held at the clubhouse. Anyone interested in the joining the club is invited to the reception that evening. Why not bring a friend, too? See you at 1846 Harvard from 6:30 to 8:30 on May 7.
Hortense Ward, a Houston Heights resident, was one of the first women in Texas to practice law. She obtained the charter for the Houston Heights Women’s Club in 1912, and she was the speaker at the clubhouse’s opening, championing the Married Women’s Property Act, which she had co-authored and which was passed by the Texas Legislature in 1913. Upon signing the bill, the Governor presented Ms. Ward with the pen he used.
In 1925, she was appointed by Gov. Pat Neff as Special Chief Justice of the “All-Woman Supreme Court” to hear a case in which all the existing Justices and most male attorneys had conflicts of interest.
Our thanks go to the following for their generous support of the programs of the Houston Heights Association.
Susan Briggs - Flower Gardens
Bob & Sue Burleson
Jerry & Pat Eversole - Parks
Julia Hackett - Parks
Taylor Moore - Boulevard in memory of Rosie
Gary & Jo Ann Sitton - Parks Maintenance
Donna White - Boulevard and Flower Gardens
Edward & Elizabeth York - Boulevard
The Houston Heights Association gratefully acknowledges the support of the following Spring 2009 Silver sponsors:
2009 Home & Garden Tour Report and Thanks
Over 1,300 tour guests came out Home Tour weekend to see how our neighborhood is “Soaring to new Heights.” Gorgeous weather and distinctive homes drew in crowds from Texas to New York to make this year’s Home and Garden Tour another resounding success!
Meander past the charming façades of this year’s cottages and bungalows, and these lovely homes revealed tastefully and historically devoted additions and bountiful garden space. Each homeowner took special care and attention to reflect the architectural styles of the past in their new construction and renovations. Exquisite molding, salvaged doors, and lead-glass windows from bygone years were exhibited in the homes.
Antiques, contemporary art, and artifacts nestled side by side in each tour home’a reflection of the wonderfully eclectic taste and passions of the neighbors in our community. A special thank you to the 2009 Home & Garden Tour Homeowners who opened their homes and their lives for us to enjoy: Mary & Ralph Ellis, Danae Stephenson & Martin Piké, Anita Goff & Denise Martin, Lamar Mathews & David Douglas, Elizabeth & Bobby Poirrier, and Ryan Lindsay & John Palmer.
Punches of bright colors and whimsical arrangements by local florists brought extra life to each room. Many thanks to the incredible generosity and beautiful arrangements donated by Another Place in Time, Darlene’s Flowers, Jana’s Flowers, Village Greenery & Flowers, Central Market, Lexis Florist and J. Aubrey Sellers.
A special feature this year was the “Room Sponsors.” Several home and kitchen stores each added flair to a room to give it a fun new spin for the tour. Williams Sonoma set the dining room table and had some fun in the kitchen of Ralph and Mary Ellis. Eclectic Home assembled a comfortable and classy setting on the second floor living room of Danae Stephenson & Martin Piké. Krispen arranged a virtual aviary of sitting birds and nests, all comfortable among exquisite candles, crystal, and silver service in the dining room of the Poirrier home. Sur La Table turned the outdoor kitchen and sitting area by the pool of the Mathews-Douglas home into a dinner-party-in-waiting. Pottery Barn used bright colors and floral motifs in the back sitting area of the Goff-Martin home to play off their vibrant and immaculately kept garden. Special thanks to the efforts of these generous shops and to Joe Gonzalez for coordinating the efforts and bringing that flair to add an extra bit of whimsy to the homes this year.
With coverage in the Houston Chronicle, several other Houston and Texas publications, and a spot on Great Day Houston with Debra Duncan, the Heights was filled with tour-goers throughout the weekend. Despite the crowds, the lines moved along quickly and efficiently. Kudos for this great feat goes to the brilliant Head Docents who kept the traffic moving all while making sure the volunteers had snacks and beverages during their shifts in the warm, sometimes windy, weather. Tour-goers learned about the history of the homes, the changes made over the years with renovations and developing gardens, the art and antique collections, and a little about the homeowners, as they listened to docents guiding them throughout the tour. Thank you to all of the hardworking docents!
In light of the ominous economic situation, the fact that the Home & Garden Tour brought in over $27,000 during the weekend - exceeding last year’s results by over $5,000 - is amazing! Thank you to everyone who came out to enjoy the homes and contribute to our wonderful neighborhood!
Photography of the cover art and the homes was donated by John Henry Childs. Christine Tremoulet, a newcomer to the Heights, donated her own and Elaine Mesker-Garcia’s expertise to photograph the interior of the homes for future articles and the Houston Heights Association archives.
We look forward to next year’s event, Co-Chaired by Danae Stephenson and Linda Eyles! [Congratulations and thanks to Christine Spin, Tour Chair for the second year!]
Candlelight Dinner & Auction
The Candlelight Dinner and Auction returned to Winter Street Studios, and this year the event area was completely transformed! Dinner chairs Christi Guerrini and Lauren Dunlap delivered fabulous décor by adorning the walls with green and blue panels to bring a sense of walking along one of our treasured bayous in the Heights. Bright plaid tablecloths stood out against white chairs and beautiful place settings that included an electric blue menu of the evening’s dinner, the brightly colored Gala Program, and the ever-anticipated guest gifts by Eclectic Home. Eclectic gave us a reason to ooh and aah...and do a little trading at the table for our favorite multi-colored glass vases. Thank you for your continued generosity!
But that’s not all! Kristal Kirksey at Jubilee arranged for further embellishments to gawk at as we enjoyed chilled cocktails. She coordinated a feast for the eyes as Buchanan’s placed gorgeous trees throughout the space while Felix from Behind the Garden Gate put on a floral show beyond what we have ever seen at this event. Amazing arrangements made us feel as if we were mingling at the Waldorf- Astoria in Manhattan, rather than our beloved Winter Street by the tracks! Bliss on 19th also “blitzed” the restrooms with decorations, making the short wait an entertaining adventure. Wallflowers made from paper and a cool chandelier fashioned from a tree branch canopied one bar in an inventive touch by Jubilee.
The Auction Room was set up beautifully on black tablecloths in a stark white room. The Auction Chairs, Andrea Sharp and Carol Welter, along with their dedicated committee, made the room and the auction items enticing. It was difficult to enter the room at many points throughout the evening with the large crowds the auction drew to the bid sheets. The final tally brought the Auction results to $47,000. We could never put together such a wonderful display without the Auction Committee, and the incredibly generous businesses and individuals who contributed to the Auction this year. Thank you all for giving in tough times!
Some of the best spots to watch the crowds at the gala were at the Red Bull bars. These four bars, donated for the event, flanked every angle of the Winter Street space. Heights Liquor again contributed fun and potent martinis to the crowds at the bars, where wine was also available.
Beaver’s served up “fresh & local” barbecue dishes at the tables for guests to enjoy “family style” to continue conversation and avoid queues at the buffet line. Soon afterward, the Live Auction began to take center stage. Home & Garden Tour Chair Christine Spin humbly thanked everyone, including guests, sponsors, homeowners, and committee members, for making the evening a wonderful success...then we got down to business!
The ever-charismatic John Blass introduced the great Live Auction pieces, assembled by Chris Silkwood, Kelly Simmons, and Julie Pettit. Two Buddy scooters, one in jet black, the other tangerine orange, were among the hottest items of the evening. The “Feed Me” sculpture by Keith Crane couldn’t help but make anyone smile, and found a nice home here in the Heights. A fabulous trip to London, including business class roundtrip airfare, hotel stay, and American Express gift certificates went quickly to the highest bidder. And finally, the exquisite collaboration by Chris Silkwood and John Palmer, an ode to the design of this year’s Home & Garden Tour motif, rose steeply in a heated bidding war, selling at the highest bid price in Candlelight Dinner & Auction history.
Special thanks to Christine Tremoulet and Elaine Mesker-Garcia for photographing the entire evening for us! You can find photos of the homes and the dinner & auction online at . Click on “Client Galleries,” create a profile, and you can purchase photos online there. The tour homes and the dinner are under "Events"; use code "heights" to access the album until July 2. A full 20% of all print sales will be donated to the HHA.
We are aware that some problems existed with dinner service at the Candlelight Dinner and we wish to apologize to anyone who had a negative experience. If you wish to speak to or e-mail a representative of the Houston Heights Association regarding your concerns, please call our general number (713-861-4002) or e-mail us at
While some occurrences may always be unpredictably unavoidable with a volunteer-driven event of this size, the Committee and Board have been meeting and will have procedures in place in the future to ensure that these problems do not occur again.
Youth Art Show
The Houston Heights Association’s Education Committee held its Fourth Annual Youth Art Show in the Reagan cafeteria, in conjunction with the Spring Home Tour. The committee uses the event to celebrate the talents of our area students. Awards were made to students at elementary, middle, and high school levels, along with a Best of Show award, which was captured by Travis Second Grader, Marina Perez-Krause, age 7.
Youth Art Show Winners
Best Of Show:
1. Marina Perez Krause, Travis ES
2. Bria Swafford, Hamilton MS
3. Jessica Contreras, Reagan HS
1. Eric Love, Love
2. Phillip Murray, Harvard
3. Kayla Vasquez, Field
Honorable Mention: Turner Givins of Travis, Andy Givins of Travis
1. Ashley Espinoza, Hamilton
2. Nicole Owen, Hogg
3. Monica Rodriguez, Hamilton
Honorable Mention: Marissa Wergana of Hamilton, Sandra Gonzalez of Hamilton
1. Steven Salavar, Reagan
2. Leo Silva, Reagan
3. Becca Nuno, Reagan
Honorable Mention: Jocelyn Tristan of Reagan, Ernesto Bervman of Reagan
Please welsome the following new or returning members to the Houston Heights Association.
Bayou City Residential Renovation, LLC, Andrew Wayland
Big Mamou Cajun Restaurant, Rufus & Brenda Estis
18 Hands Gallery, Karen Cruce, Betsy Evans, Katy McKinin, Jim Shea, Nancy Susaneck
Adrian & Roxanne Gorena
David & Tracey Goswick
Trinh & Gene Kuo
John Palmer Art
Norris & Cantu, LLP, Gerardo Cantu
Oak Forest Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Tyler Moore
Russell & Heather Parker
Reagan High School PTO
Dr. John & Sandy Sanders
Sen. John Whitmire
The Houston Heights Association gratefully acknowledges the support of the following Spring 2009 Bronze Sponsors:
Spotlight on Heights Business Member Tony Riedel
Hickory Hollow owner Tony Riedel is a native of Florida. He attended Stetson University near Daytona, Florida, during which time he worked five summers flipping burgers, washing dishes, bussing, and waiting tables and tending bar at a New Jersey yacht club in a beach town. Upon graduation with his Bachelor of Business Administration Degree, Stouffer’s recruited Tony into their management training program. Tony moved from Deland, Florida to Center City Philadelphia to Manhattan, New York to Louisville, Kentucky before Hilton recruited Tony to Houston. After serving as the Hilton’s Anchorage Restaurant food and beverage director Tony decided it was time for a venture of his own.
That’s when he purchased Hickory Kart (since sold and closed) and Hickory Hollow, his first Fallbrook location in 1978. The transplanted easterner had to learn real Texas BBQ to compete. But he persevered. As a bit of a perfectionist, he believes in using the best real ingredients, including choice brisket, real cheese, and real sour cream. He switched to oils without cholesterol and trans fats ten years ago. By taking the time to do things right, Tony grew his place into this Real Texas Café that guests love.
Tony opened his second restaurant at 216 Heights Blvd in 1987. A few years later, Tony purchased his own place just south of the railroad tracks at 101 Heights Blvd. Who wouldn’t want to be closer to the tracks where guests can hear and feel the rumbling and hooting of a train during their meal? He wanted to offer authentic live western music at the Heights location to complement the music of the trains, but he couldn’t afford a band at the time. So he picked up his own guitar and called some friends and a tradition was born. There is still live music in the Heights every weekend.
In 2000 Tony opened the third Hickory Hollow in the sleepy country town of Magnolia, within an earshot of the same train that passes the Heights and Fallbrook locations. How totally small-town Texas is that? Tony’s favorite part of the restaurant business is interacting with people - both the team and the clients. It is most trying, yet also the most rewarding.
Tony joined the Houston Heights Association in 1987 when he opened the Heights location. He became immersed in the board after Byron Pettit convinced him to run. While on the Board, he was a voice of the business members and one of the founders of First Saturday, a program that continues to attract people to local Heights area businesses on the first Saturday of each month. Tony has graciously donated the catering services of Hickory Hollow for many Heights events. His generosity and involvement in our community earned him the Houston Heights Corporate Citizen of the Year Award for 2005. Currently Tony is improving the community through his involvement with the Super Neighborhoods program.
Besides playing guitar, Tony enjoys surfing. You might find him enjoying the surf at Surf Side the next slow catering day. Come join Tony and the folks at Hickory Hollow and toss back a longneck. While you’re there, thank him for all he does to make the Heights a better place to live!
Notes From Heights Area Schools
If you stopped by the HHA Youth Art Show Reception on Friday, April 3, you probably heard, and felt, the wonderful sound of Field Elementary’s African drummers. The Education Committee would like to thank Field Music Teacher Diane Moreno and drumming instructor Brian Bell for the enchanting performances.
The award-winning Reagan Jazz Band and the ever-popular Reagan Mariachi performed for HHA Home and Garden Tour visitors at Reagan High School on Saturday and Sunday. Other student groups who stopped in to entertain home tour visitors included Stevenson’s Dance and Drumming groups, Hogg’s Karate Demo Team, Helms Choir, Hamilton’s Karate Demo Team, as well as Reagan’s ROTC and Cheerleaders. Thanks to all of these talented students!
Reagan’s UIL Academics Team [above] placed first overall in the team sweepstakes at the district 21-4A UIL academic meet held at Davis High School, March 30 and 31. The Bulldog team beat out Waltrip, Davis, Austin, Yates, Westbury, Sharpstown, and Lee high schools. Of the 40 students who placed, 20 advanced to compete at the UIL regional meet scheduled for April 24-25 at the campus of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville.
Seven Hamilton 8th graders were delighted when they not only won First Place for their Long-Term Problem solution, but also took a rare “OMer Award” for outstanding performance in the Spontaneous portion of the competition held in late February. Since then, the OM Team has gone on to complete at the Texas State Tournament on March 28 where they again placed first. Next stop - World Finals at Iowa State University on May 27-30. This is the third trip to World Finals for this talented group.
Robotics teacher Stephanie Witherspoon and the Hamilton Robotics Team have been busy planning the All-Earth EcoBot Challenge to be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center on April 25. Students in grades 5, 6, 7, and 8 from throughout Harris County and surrounding areas are charged with transforming robots into instruments of change as they build LEGO creations to Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle waste. For more information, visit: .
After three long years of planning and fundraising, Hogg Middle School will throw open its gates on May 8 when the students and staff celebrate the opening of their new SPARK park. The official dedication will include many local and city dignitaries and begins at 10:00 AM, followed by student performances around the park and light refreshments for all. For more information, please call the school office, 713-802-4700.
Calendar of Events for May-June 2009
HHA headquarters: The Fire Station is on the corner of Yale and 12th Streets.
Every Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Historic Houston’s salvage warehouse is open. Call 713-522-0542 or visit their web site .
Every Monday, 7:30 to 10:00 PM, Houston International Folk Dancers introductory lessons at Oddfellows Hall, 115 E. 14th.
May 2, 7:00 to 11:00 PM, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School 8th annual Benefit Gala at Treebeard’s at Market Square. For more information about the School and its Gala, please call Janet Matthews, Head of School, at 713-861-2954.
May 2, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, East Montrose Home Tour and Art Walk, three homes and a dozen art studios. More information at , by e-mail to , or by phone at 713-528-5614.
May 2, Travis Elementary Centennial Celebration and Parade. See article in March issue.
May 2, American Cancer Society’s “Bras and Boxers” Event. See article in April issue.
May 7, 6:30 to 8:30 PM, 1846 Harvard, Heights Women’s Club reception for Founder’s Award recipient. See article above.
May 8-30, Fridays and Saturdays only, 8:00 PM, Upstage Theatre presents Back to the ‘80s at Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Blvd. For more information, call 713-838-7191 or visit .
May 15 and 16, 6:00 PM, American Cancer Society’s Greater Heights Relay For Life at Delmar-Dyer Sports Complex. See article in March issue.
October 4, Bicycle Rally
December 4-5, Holiday Home Tour
February 28, 2010, Awards Dinner
April 9-11, Spring Home Tour
April 17, HHA Camp-Out & Music Fest
June 5, Heights Fun Run
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 2009, 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
Debra Broman, Diane Easley, Janice Evans-Davis, Lauriel Hindman, Irene Nava, Hilary Parr, Kelly Simmons, Jonathan Smulian, Christine Spin.