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Posts posted by brucesw

  1. Yes, Conoco Building, my mistake.  I have been reading up on Central Bank and had that on my mind.


    All these years I have been under the impression First City was razed; never knew it was still there, but  I  don't go downtown very often and can't do much sightseeing when I do.  However, I'm having doubts that was First City, anyway.  It appears to have multi-hued panels, First City was silver and squarish from this angle, I think.  Possibly Houston House or whatever that building was called?


    Is that the Sheraton Lincoln on the left edge?

  2. Doesn't look anything like Prudential to me.  Here's Prudential, 1961:




    What is that building to the right of Prudential on Holcombe?  I can't remember it.


    The tallest building in the background is Humble, 44 stories.  Second tallest is/was First City National, I  think, on Main (can't remember the cross street), 33 stories, now gone.  Is that Central National with the Weather Ball in between them?


    If you draw a line on a map from the top of the Dome to downtown, Prudential is way off to the left. If you draw a line from the Dome to the left of where Prudential stood, downtown is not in the picture in the background.


    My first guess was 1400 Hermann, a luxury apartment building that went up in 1958 across from the Rose Garden in Hermann Park.  Still there but the exterior looks different than what I remember.  It would be the solitary mid-rise between the Med Ctr and downtown in the linked photo, on the north side of the park.  The line from the top of the Dome to downtown passes over Hermann Park.


    However now I'm intrigued by that other building on Holcombe.

  3. Yes, I think Jo Jo’s was not just local; I wondered too about Toddle House, etc.  There is lots of good info in the Historic Houston forum about past restaurants, too, not just in the Defunct Restaurants thread.  That forum used to be one of the most active on HAIF and there were lots of contributors who knew a lot about Houston.

    I see upthread where it’s been suggested the Champs were formerly named Jim’s.  I’m remembering the name Terry’s from someplace but can’t pin it down.  

    Jim’s/Terry’s/Champs - whatever -- there was one at ca. 6475 Hillcroft, on the V-shaped tract formed by the intersection of Westward and Hillcroft.  This is the first I went to and that was possibly before the name change the first time I went.  

    After it closed and was razed, a large Conoco station went in there with a large C store that seemed to me to be a copy of the large Stop and Go Corner Market formats.

    The Street View from just last September shows an Exxon station there.


    The El Ranchero Restaurant at 5300 N. Braeswood was originally a Champ’s.  I remember being surprised seeing it there because that’s not anywhere near as heavily traveled a thoroughfare as the other locations I knew about; that one would really be just a neighborhood café.  After Champs closed that became Pastine; there is still a listing for Pastine on Menuism or one of those sites which lists it as Italian, Mexican and Pizza.  It never seemed to do any business but lasted for quite a few years.  El Ranchero moved in 5 or 6 years ago, perhaps.


    There was a Champs in the parking lot of the Academy at 8236 S. Gessner at 59.  There was a Mobil station on the corner, facing the frontage road, which is now a garage/used car lot.  The Champs backed right up to the back of the gas station and faced north, not Gessner.  I went in there once, not long before it closed.  There was no parking directly in front of the restaurant.  You had to park elsewhere in the lot and walk and that driveway could be very busy at times.


    You have a Champs on the SW corner of S. Wilcrest and 59, now an Exxon station.  Yes, but that was originally a Jo Jo’s.  That’s why I asked if there was any connection.  I went there once, after the name change.  That is the only location I remember seeing a train which is why I asked which chain that was.

    The Jo Jo’s faced south, into the parking lot of the big strip center (Marshall’s, Carter’s Gun Country, etc.), not Wilcrest or the frontage road.  The driveway into the parking lot was the first one south of the frontage road.  It's been altered so it's impossible for me to get my bearings looking at the street view.  There was room for one row of parking directly in front of the building, separated by a sidewalk, small strip of sod, and shrubbery.  Note both the freeway and frontage road have been widened.

    You can look at these on Historic Aerials but many of the shots are very difficult to make out.  You can see however that the Hillcroft, N. Braeswood and S. Gessner buildings had a similar shape with a point to one end of the roof.  The building on S.Wilcrest was square.  The best one to look at is the 2002 image of the S. Gessner location which shows the building there.  By 2004 it is gone completely.  The 1981 image of Hillcroft is probably the best one to look at for that store; that’s about the time I went there I think.  It shows parking in front of the building, in fact, on every side except Westward.  I hadn’t been able to remember if you could park right in front of that one because of the tapering lot but the restaurant is farther from the tip than I remembered.

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  4. Working on some on the SW side, but some questions:


    What was the difference between Champs and Champps? 


    Was Champs earlier known as Terry's or something?


    Which chain had the train running around on a ledge beneath the ceiling?


    I hadn't realized JoJo's was a local chain.  Was there any connection to Champs.


    There was a Taco Bueno at ca. 3810 S. Gessner, intersection Westpark, west side of the street.  After TB pulled out, the building became a dentists office or loan office or something but has now been demolished.  A strip center occupies the space between where the TB was and Westpark that contains a Tortilleria La Reyna, with parking on the south of the building rather than along Gessner.  The TB would have sat in the parking lot, very close to the La Reyna.


    There was a Taco Bueno at ca. 8767 S. Gessner.  When TB pulled out, Taqueria Arandas occupied the building without much alteration at first but later a paint job.  Years later, the TA was razed and a larger restaurant was built on the back of the site.  Last year the TA closed and within the last few months a Don Rey Mexican restaurant has moved in.


    An L-shaped center was built on the lot s. of where the TB stood.  I can't remember what was there when it was TB.




    The China House Restaurant @ 8797 S. Gessner, corner of Jason (?) was originally a Captain D's.

  5. A mortuary with on-site residence for the mortician? (the apartment to the left).  As noted the business next door was a bar-b-q joint.  The Fifth Ward was known as the barbecue ward.  Here's an old article in the Press which names some of the places.  J.C. Reid did a similar article earlier this year in the Chron, behind the paywall so I've never read it.


    I thought maybe Kozy Kitchen, 1202 Lockwood, which I went to once and remembered as a wood-frame building, although larger than that appears to be.  However the current street view shows Kozy Kitchen (closed) in a brick building.


    Maybe if someone has access to white pages/yellow pages from that era (60s) they could look for barbecue places in the Nickel, then compare addresses for mortuaries.


    ETA the links.

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  6. I don't remember the Miller's in the Village but there was one on Main, south of Dryden, in that old 2 story strip that also included the Briar Shoppe and a scrubs emporium.  There's one in one of the medical offices towers now; I think I remember it in Scurlock Tower.  Yelp lists four around town, including Clear Lake.  I've been to the South Main and Shepherd ones.

  7. Poll Parrot was a national brand of children's shoes, advertised on Howdy Doody.


    I didn't remember Texas plates were still yellow/black that late.


    I don't think there were any 6 or 7 story buildings out on Jensen, Lyons or Dowling, I think this is right downtown, lower Main area.  The mannequins  in the store window are white.  Maybe it's just an intersection where buses from the east end crossed, hence all the African-Americans.  There was a segregated (?) bus line, Pioneer, blue and white buses, that served mostly the east end, in addition to the city's orange and white buses.


    I wouldn't be surprised if there was a Poll Parrot right on Main.  Anybody want to take a stab at the street name on the sign under the traffic light?  Or identify the building in the distance on the right?  That's kind of distinctive looking.


    And, er, are we sure this is Houston?

  8. I went to Zinnante's just once; Robb Walsh wrote it up in the Press, praising the meatball sub as I recall.  I had never been aware of it and went to try it out.  It was closed in less than a year.  The power of the Press?  That is now My Pita which seems to have frequent ownership changes.

  9. KG Food Center on Tierwester at Mount Pleasant, owned by the same Korean family since the 1960's.  The mother has been up front at the cash register for the last 50+ years, with one son alongside her, and another son who runs the meat counter.  


    Unfortunately I think it'll likely be killed off by the new Pyburns coming on Scott Street.


    That's sure not very far away.  But looking at it on street view it looks like it's not much bigger than a convenience store so I guess it doesn't qualify as a 'supermarket' for the purposes of defining a food desert.


    Maybe they can adjust their merchandise line to compete.  Pyburn's on S. Fondren is too far from me to be a regular stop but I go from time to time for items only they carry.  Biggest negative for me is the produce selection is limited and not very good looking.


  10. I think a some of the Indian grocery stores are chains but many are independently owned.  Likewise Pakistani grocery stores.


    Belden's in Meyerland.


    Phoenicia - 2 locations.


    I wonder about Hong Kong Market in Hong Kong City Mall.


    Pyburn's - the original in Almeda has been around for probably 50 years but four years ago they opened a second location in Fondren Southwest and they're set to open another in a food desert.  I don't know what all the stores are this Vuong owns but one is Jim's Supermarket on Yellowstone.


    Pyburn's is known for their meat department.  Sometimes I think there are more butchers milling around behind the counter waiting on someone to serve than there are customers in the whole store.

  11. Well there are worse ways to waste time.  I accessed the collection again through a different link and this time saw a number of photographs I'm sure I never saw before, specifically, color pictures of the San Jacinto Monument and Battleship Texas and many shots of aircraft and ground operations at Hobby, both commercial and private, at the end.  Parenthetically I also spotted a couple of aerial shots of the old San Jacinto Inn which I had either missed or not snapped to before.


    Most importantly in this browse thru, I realized the OP photo came at the end of a series of shots identified as being along Market Street and 'our' main road looks a lot like the other shots of Market Street in those photos.  So I took to Historic Aerials and thought I found something very promising where Normandy intersects Market, on the south side of the street.  Unfortunately the watermark obscures the area and the Google Earth image is badly overexposed and undecipherable and besides that, Sheffield cuts through on a diagonal and would be visible behind Mary's and I realized from subsequent year images that the secondary road is actually a railroad.


    So right now I'm stumped but I think more looks along Market Street are warranted.  Also, I only went as far east as where Market intersected Texas 73, which was the route I-10 East took over ca. 1961, and I think Market extends beyond that on the other side.


    Also, I think we need to consider that the labels and groupings were probably selected by the archivist and not Browning and the designation 'rural' may be misleading.  That gas station appears to have 4 pumps; most very small town/wide spot in the road/rural gas stations in that era as best I remember would have only 2 pumps.

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  12. This is a long-shot, but since it's an aerial photo, can it be linked to other aerial photos in the collection and, with a little knowledge of airports of that era, maybe a possible flight path be determined?  Could be that the shot is actually someplace on the edges of the Houston MSA given how fast and far an airplane can fly in a short time.


    I mentioned above that I scrolled through the collection at HPL; as far as I saw, this shot of this site stood alone.  A few pictures have dates on them but many do not.  I have no idea what airport he was using. 


    One thing I forgot to mention before, besides the shots of downtown, Rice and West U and all the industrial aerial shots, there were several pictures of the San Jacinto Monument and the surrounding area and some long shots showed the monument in the background.  Overwhelmingly, when this guy was taking shots of industrial installations, he was in the ship channel area.


    It might be possible to examine some of those long shots and spot this site, if anybody else wants to take a shot at it.  I think this was photo # 94 out of 117? but I'm not sure they're in any sort of chronological order.


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  13. Someone mentioned that the service station sign could be Humble except that they were white with red letters. Some were in fact red with white letters and I believe that service station sign could very well be a Humble station.


    Yes, I posted a link to a color photo of one of those Humble signs with red background above.  I had also mentioned that Humble stations sold Atlas tires and your photo shows that, which makes me wonder even more why there appears to be a Goodyear sign, as someone else suggested.


    I'm satisfied it's a Humble station but unfortunately that doesn't help at all to locate it.

  14. That makes sense.  I don't remember that at all and it has bugged me for a long time.


    Rice built a much bigger store on Hillcroft, just south of S. Braeswood (address on Hillcroft although it's back behind a strip center) that was a Rice Epicurean and is now a nice Walmart Neighborhood Market.


    For aggieengineer, it's still a very nice neighborhood.  Meyerland, after all.  Houses immaculately maintained on the outside, anyway.  Interesting boutique businesses - The Russian General Store in the center where the L&C was, probably the biggest selection of salamis in Houston and lots of import goodies, My Pita, a Kosher bakery that makes fantastic pitas, and the New York Coffee and Bagel Shop with probably the best bagels in town.

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  15. ^

    Interesting.  That was before I moved to this part of town.  Must've been the space on the corner.  That was a Blockbuster for a long time, then vacant for a few years and just recently became Flooring for Life.  I think I've been around long enough that there was something there before the Blockbuster and after Lewis and Coker but I can't think of what it was right now other than I'm sure it wasn't a grocery.


    Not to hijack the thread but do you recall what was in the strip center on the SW corner of S. Braeswood and Chimney Rock where there is a small, dumpy HEB now?  Must've been a grocery, 5 & 10 or hardware in that space.


  16. I agree.  They were considered very desirable residences; my brother and his wife lived there just after marrying in the early 60s.  As I recall, on the exterior they resembled the apartments that were torn down for the Montrose HEB.


    I'm sure we've discussed them before on HAIF but I can't for the life of me remember the name to search for.  They'd probably be in one of the threads on Riverside Terrace which was where wealthy Jewish families (Weingarten, Battlesteins, Sakowitz) lived since they couldn't buy in River Oaks.

  17. How ironic.  My dad owned a '49 Rocket 88.  He loved that car so much and bragged on it so much, our neighbor, who'd always driven Fords, bought a '51 98, and loved it, kept it until he died and took immaculate care of it.  But it never occurred to me that was an Olds, possibly because I don't think I ever saw an Olds with the visor - lots of Chrysler products and lots of Chevys, but never an Olds that I can remember.  Now that you point it out, I see it; the side windows are also telling to me.  Thanks, for that and the Studebaker.


    I don't have Google Earth Desktop but I looked at Historic Aerials.  I see nothing there at all in 53 or 57, just empty fields.  I've also come to wonder if Bissonnet would have been anything more than a narrow, two-lane blacktop like Boone Loop is now that far out in the early 50s.  90-A would have been the main highway to towns in Fort Bend.


    And now I have to take something back.  Linky


    If I ever saw one of those before, I've completely forgotten it.  I also spent some time looking at gas station signage in that era and the only brands I can find that used an oval shape were Humble/Esso/Enco and Amoco/Standard and the latter would have had a torch through the middle protruding up above.  So, I guess that's a Humble station after all.

  18. Eh. I wouldn't be so sure. Now, I haven't been around for the whole time of, say, Hempstead Highway's existence (Katy Freeway was already a divided highway by this time, and the road is clearly two way traffic) but the road hasn't really widened that much since the pre-freeway days (except for the area that was replaced by the freeway, but that's a different thing).


    Hempstead Road as it stands today has a ROW where you could, in theory, squeeze in another road between Hempstead Road and the railroad. According to Google Earth, Hempstead Road has a ROW of about 45' (that's pretty rough calculations, don't quote me on that), and between the road and the railroad bed, about another 55'. So that's a full road length running beside it to get to the railroad, and you could easily see twice the distance, so at the very least, you should've seen the railroad bed in that shot.


    Problem is, Hempstead Road ALWAYS had the same distance of the road and the railroad--in the olden days, that was a shoulder mostly used for local business access. Even checking Google Earth back to '44, you could see Hempstead Road's width in relation to the railroad. Didn't change.


    90A has about 50' between the curb of its four-laned westbound section to the railroad bed. But if you look and compare images on Google Earth, prior to being rebuilt circa 2007, US-90A is actually FARTHER AWAY from the tracks overall than before. By taking advantage of the wide median and ROW to the south of the road, they were able to completely remove one lane entirely (a shoulder) that was closest to the railroad.


    With this, and the "south side driveway" mentioned, that eliminates railroads, which would put Hempstead Road out of the running as a candidate.






    That said, I don't think Westheimer is the one either. While the top road is obviously a smaller street, the main road is clearly a highway or a major road of some sort. Back in those days, you didn't have roads with that width unless they were highways or city roads. Based on the general rural feel, I think it is a highway (FMs just didn't have that width and pavement like highways/city roads did). Now that we've also kept in mind that the road didn't abruptly end at Mary's, what were the addresses actually listed?

    When I posted that comment I had been staring at a closeup of the culvert across the road for a long time, trying to see what I could make of it.  If I had pulled back and looked at the whole archive picture, I would have seen the comment was irrelevant to this particular locale, whether or not it's true of any of the roads being considered. 


  19. This is obsessing me.  It is the most fun since Brunsville.


    So here's what we know:

    It's around 1950.

    There is a motor court and a cafe, so the lower road is somewhat of a major route (for the time).

    The main road likely runs east-west, with some allowance for error because of the angle of the sun throughout the year.

    There is no adjacent railroad, which probably rules out Katy Road, Market Street on the east side, and South Main.

    There is a smaller parallel road, and on the upper left another road that intersects at a right angle.  


    So looking at a 1956 map online, I'm going to hazard a guess, although with very little confidence.  I wish I could post the map to explain this but here is the link to it:



    This is the only place on the map I could find that appears to agree with the points above.


    At that time Richmond Road, most of which is now Bissonnet, was a primary southwest route.  Richmond Road runs southwest until around Roark, where it heads straight west.  A little beyond that is Boone Road, where a street runs parallel for a short bit a little north of Richmond Road.  This is Boone Loop Road.  So perhaps the main road in the photo is Richmond Road, and Boone Road and Old Boone Loop are in the background.


    I have to caveat this by pointing out that the map is at a high level and doesn't show every street, but since this was out in the Boonies, as it were, there might not be all that much missing.


    Interesting speculation, to say the least.  I've driven Boone Loop Road a few times, the L-shaped portion, to avoid a traffic tie-up at Wilcrest and Bissonnet which also was heavily infested with panhandlers for a long time.  I braved Friday afternoon drive-time traffic (and the sun directly in my face) to take a fresh look and drive the other portion of the Loop.  Nothing identifiable remains along Bissonnet, it's all very much more recent construction, strips centers and, of course, a CVS.


    Boone Loop Road is a narrow, two lane road.  On the map it looks as though the distance between the two parallel roads is too great but in person, it's probably just about right.  If there is a problem, it's with the east-west length of the Loop Road;  It seems to me, after driving it just once, that we should be seeing some of the L-leg of the loop in the archive picture.


    I will try to make it back over the weekend with a camera.  There is one house on the secondary road, back behind a tall fence, that I want to get a better look at.  I don't think it's one of the houses in the archive picture but it's worth a closer look.


    If not, then it would probably be accurate to say that absolutely none of the structures in the archive picture has survived 60 or so years, and that makes me wonder.


    Present day Wilcrest would probably run right between the gas station and the long white building or maybe right where the gas station sat.


    I spent some time this afternoon browsing the R.L. Browning collection online, 117 pictures and I believe I looked at them all, hoping for some companion shots that might show us another angle or wide view, to no avail.  I wasn't making a list but some general observations:


    He took multiple shots of all his subjects.  This picture may be the only one in the collection that stands by itself.  All the photos I looked at were aerial shots.


    He took many photos of downtown Houston, Rice and Rice Field, as he called it, and a few of West University.  He took many shots of industrial installations, perhaps more than all others combined, and I think it's fair to say they were all identified as being in the ship channel area; certainly the majority of them were.  If this picture is in far SW rural Houston, it's unique.

  20. Hah! Studebakers weren't very common around Lake Jackson.  The rear sure looked Studebakerish to me but I couldn't place the grill.


    Re:  the railroad - none of the roads being mentioned were as wide back then as now -- the rr's wouldn't have been so close.


    If that's Westheimer/1093, nothing remains of any of those structures I'd say.


    The span of the rear window on the white car is very unusual for a 1940s auto but I have found several that come close - the 49 Merc, Olds, Buick and Pontiac.  Windshield visors weren't unheard of on any of them.


    Another possible location - FM 529/Spencer Rd on the NW side, still has some light industrial along it like that.

  21. I'm saying the white car by the long building was a Chrysler product partly because of the windshield visor, which was very common on Chrysler cars in the 40s and early 50s.  Dodge and Plymouth adopted that boxier style body in 1949 but the rear window spanning the width of the car suggests a later date.  Chryslers and Desotos would have had longer hoods and trunks.  I'm by no means 100% convinced, though. 


    And the lighter car on the highway is really puzzling.  Studebaker?  The rear fender should help identify it but I can't place it.


    I agree with NenaE on the service station.  I don't know when Humble dropped that name and took on Esso around here but that and Enco all had the same color scheme on the signs.  FWIW, as best I can remember, the pumps at Humble/Esso/Enco stations were always red; there's a silver (?) pump at that station.  Also I think Humble, et. al., had their own brand of tires, Atlas???, so there wouldn't have been a Goodyear sign.  Amoco was also branded as Standard in that era but both signs should have had a torch on the top so that may rule that out.


    Depending on the time of year, the shadows do not necessarily indicate a due east/west orientation.  Current 90 E goes up McCarty; was that the pre-I-10 route?


    Could be portions of 225 or 90-A on the southwest side.  If the latter, the railroad must be just out of view at the bottom of the picture.


    How about Market St., or Clinton Drive?

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