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Historic Rufus Cage Building


Guest danax

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Jan. 23, 2005, 12:42AM

Thanks to the Eastwood Civic Association for their leadership in this. More info here.

WHAT'S THAT?

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Karen Warren / Chronicle

The former Rufus Cage Elementary, a mission-style school building in the East End.

• Size: 20,000 square feet on 1.1 acres

• Location: 1417 Telephone Road

• Year built: circa 1910

• Fate: The building was on its way to being sold to the highest bidder, but East End neighborhood activists persuaded the Houston Independent School District to work with them to find a new use for this historic building with the goal of preserving the property. But there's no clear plan yet for the property.

• Etc.: The former Cage School was included on Greater Houston Preservation Alliance's Endangered Buildings List in early 2004. The property has been used as a supply warehouse since 1983, when the current Cage Elementary opened.

"What's that?" is a weekly glance at a significant real estate project that's shaping Houston's future. Send ideas to nancy.sarnoff@chron.com.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It is encouraging that the residents got the city's attention and the city is taking preservation seriously. Of course, if you had already spent money on due diligence and predevelopment in preparation for the bid opening, you're a little steamed at the timing of the change in plans.

Don't expect to see any eye catching redevelopment plans for that site anytime soon. It will sit idle while the residents and the city kibbitz over redevelopment plans that neither have the power or money to implement.

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  • 6 years later...

It is encouraging that the residents got the city's attention and the city is taking preservation seriously.

Think again! While hysterical preservationists have hysterically celebrated phyric victories in the Heights and Montrose, the sealed bidding process for this highly visible and legitimately historical structure has seemed to slip under the radar.

http://www.cbre.com/usa/us/tx/houston+corp+services/property/hisdcage

Edited by TheNiche
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Think again! While hysterical preservationists have hysterically celebrated phyric victories in the Heights and Montrose, the sealed bidding process for this highly visible and legitimately historical structure has seemed to slip under the radar.

http://www.cbre.com/usa/us/tx/houston+corp+services/property/hisdcage

Totally unsurprising. The COH will put the preservation boot up the arse of non-investor homeowners who live in merely old structures no historical value, yet completely ignore the commerical buildings and districts that do. Lacking the political will and money to take on actual historic preservation, they bully the little guy instead to claim the win.

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My 9 month ordeal with the so-called "historical preservationists" has taught me that they know nothing of historical preservation, history or architecture...and it starts at the very top. I do not pretend to know their motives. Some appear to be attempting to drive down home prices in an attempt to be able to afford to stay in the Heights. Others appear to be attempting to drive up renovation costs, so that only the upper middle class can afford to live here. It appears they both may win.

Meanwhile, actual historical properties are quietly sold off as the historical preservationists whistle past the graveyard.

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I drive by there daily, could have guessed since they still haven't done crap about the roof damage from Ike, my guess is there's tons of water damage on the interior.

I was in there before Ike and there was tons of water damage on the interior. I can't imagine what it looks like now.

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should we go to city council with this?

I hate to use an overbearing and obtrusive ordinance to protect something that is truly historic, but according to the historic preservation ordinance....

DESIGNATION OF LANDMARKS, PROTECTED LANDMARKS, HISTORIC

DISTRICTS AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

Sec. 33-221. Designation.

(a) The city council may designate buildings, structures, objects and sites as

landmarks and protected landmarks, may designate areas as historic districts, may

designate sites as archaeological sites, and may define, amend and delineate the

boundaries of any landmark, protected landmark, historic district or archaeological site

as provided in this article.

anyone have email addresses handy?

Edited by samagon
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thanks, I just went through the historic district thread in the heights and found all emails addresses.

'districta@houstontx.gov'; 'districtb@houstontx.gov'; 'districtc@houstontx.gov'; 'districtd@houstontx.gov'; 'districte@houstontx.gov'; 'districtf@houstontx.gov'; 'districtg@houstontx.gov'; 'districth@houstontx.gov'; 'districti@houstontx.gov'; 'atlarge1@houstontx.gov'; 'atlarge2@houstontx.gov'; 'atlarge3@houstontx.gov'; 'atlarge4@houstontx.gov'; 'atlarge5@houstontx.gov'

and then sent a copy to mayor@houstontx.gov

did also get a reply from the historic preservation office, hard to tell if it was canned, or not.

Thanks for your email. We as well as many others are very aware of the architectural and historical importance of this building, and lots of dialogue has occurred previously about this building with Houston Independent School District (HISD). HISD owns the building and has tried to sell it before, and I think Historic Houston, Inc. has tried several times to buy it, but the sale was never been finalized for various reasons – lack of funds etc. The East End Super Neighborhood too has pleaded with HISD not to demo the building. HISD will not designate any of its buildings – PERIOD. There are no protections for this building as a result. Only the owner can initiate a Protected Landmark designation.

The Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission (HAHC) could initiate a Landmark designation if there was enough political will supporting that action, but if designated, it would be protected for only 90 days from demolition – unless the owner proved an economic hardship – therefore, if so, it would have no protection. Also if the HAHC initiated designation over owner objection, it is unlikely that City Council would designate it as a Landmark if HISD opposed the designation and requested them not to designate.

I wish I had better news for you.

All I can advise is that you contact HISD and ask them to sell it to someone who will preserve it, and the new owner can take advantage of the city property tax exemptions (after designation) and discounts on permit fees, etc. but any restoration must be approved by the HAHC if it is to be designated.

Randy Pace

Historic Preservation Officer

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did also get a reply from the historic preservation office, hard to tell if it was canned, or not.

Since it was (if it really was) from Randy Pace it is probably authentic. He had a big part in restoring the three late 19th century buildings on Prairie Ave back in the 1990's (one of which housed the Carter & Cooley Deli for a time) so I believe his concerns are sincere.

If you don't have a cooperative owner there is not much that can be done and that's a pity.

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Since it was (if it really was) from Randy Pace it is probably authentic. He had a big part in restoring the three late 19th century buildings on Prairie Ave back in the 1990's (one of which housed the Carter & Cooley Deli for a time) so I believe his concerns are sincere.

If you don't have a cooperative owner there is not much that can be done and that's a pity.

Good to know this! More often than not my political activism is more along the lines of lively discourse with friends over a beer, or two, or three.

I wish I had the money to buy the place, and renovate it (and the time required). I think it would make a killer bookstore/coffee shop/craft beer and wine establishment.

heh, of course that would be in 10 or more years, for the time being, I think it would make a nice place to have a check cashing place, and maybe run a Mexico Direct bus service depot.

http://es.houstonisd.org/CageES/History.html

I wonder if this is still true?

The descendants of Rufus Cage still own the four-room building and allow H.I.S.D. to use the building as long as it serves a purpose within the school system. The old building still stands and is used as a warehouse for school supplies at its original location of 1417 Telephone Road.

obviously the second part of the quote is incorrect at this time.

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  • 6 years later...

It hasn't been in use by the school district since before hurricane Ike.

 

While it is well past what would be considered lot value for Houston, it is still standing, so it is still realistically recoverable.

 

My offer still stands, if I win the lottery, I'm buying it (and hiring the rehab addict person to come renovate it with the TV crews and everything). Although now I'd be putting in a craft rum distillery.

Edited by samagon
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