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Why does Galveston take more pride in preserving history than houston?


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I went to Galveston this morning, went to a few museums: Flight Museum, Railroad Museum, Seaport Museum. What came to mind is that Galvestonians seem to take much more pride in their history in comparison to houston. Here most notable buildings get torn down: Shamrock Hotel, Majestic Theater, Prudential Building, possibly astrodome. It's sad that most things here get demolished and mostly become parking lots.

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So you don't believe preserving history?

 

not when it makes no economic sense, or when It's my property, and I want to do something with it. Feel free to preserve history, just don't try to force it on me.

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So you don't believe preserving history?

 

So you don't believe in using common sense? It has often been said that economic stagnation is the friend of historic buildings. Galveston has had virtually no economy for over 100 years. Accordingly, there was no incentive to tear down their buildings. Houston, on the other hand, has added 6.2 million people in the last 113 years. We need the space. Where you seem upset that Houston grew into an economic juggernaut, but had to bulldoze a few old buildings to do it, I am impressed with Houston's stature as the best economy in the country right now.

 

Of course, if we were being fair, we would also be complaining about why New York, Chicago and LA tore down so much of their history as well. But, we are not fair. Some people look only at Houston and complain, while ignoring the fact that Houston has grown just like other cities have, only faster.

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So you don't believe in using common sense? It has often been said that economic stagnation is the friend of historic buildings. Galveston has had virtually no economy for over 100 years. Accordingly, there was no incentive to tear down their buildings. Houston, on the other hand, has added 6.2 million people in the last 113 years. We need the space. Where you seem upset that Houston grew into an economic juggernaut, but had to bulldoze a few old buildings to do it, I am impressed with Houston's stature as the best economy in the country right now.

 

Of course, if we were being fair, we would also be complaining about why New York, Chicago and LA tore down so much of their history as well. But, we are not fair. Some people look only at Houston and complain, while ignoring the fact that Houston has grown just like other cities have, only faster.

 

This is called a lack of civic sense. 

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I wouldn't accuse Galveston of lacking civic sense. They got wiped out by a hurricane for crissakes. Those old buildings are all they have left. 

 

 

BTW, remember that thread where you said people that don't take the bus cannot critique it? Well...I am preserving a 108 year old home, and you are not. You have no right to critique Houston preservation of historic buildings since you have never done it. I have, and Houston preserves more homes and buildings than Galveston does.

Edited by RedScare
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I actually rather enjoy Houston's minimal focus on history. Houston is a city that very much lives in the present with an eye on the future. Let's be realistic after all, it's not like there's a lot of "history" of any significance in Houston prior to the 60s. It doesn't have to be a given that just because something's old, it should be saved.

Galveston on the other hand, does have history that's worth saving. It was much more affluent around the turn of the century and has buildings that reflect that.

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I wouldn't accuse Galveston of lacking civic sense. They got wiped out by a hurricane for crissakes. Those old buildings are all they have left.

BTW, remember that thread where you said people that don't take the bus cannot critique it? Well...I am preserving a 108 year old home, and you are not. You have no right to critique Houston preservation of historic buildings since you have never done it. I have, and Houston preserves more homes and buildings than Galveston does.

I am preserving a 40 year old home myself one of three that i own. You can keep trying to put me down but in life you can not defeat me.

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I actually rather enjoy Houston's minimal focus on history. Houston is a city that very much lives in the present with an eye on the future. Let's be realistic after all, it's not like there's a lot of "history" of any significance in Houston prior to the 60s. It doesn't have to be a given that just because something's old, it should be saved.

Galveston on the other hand, does have history that's worth saving. It was much more affluent around the turn of the century and has buildings that reflect that.

History is important. Honestly I can't win with you and red and August. You guys are for sprawl and against history. You may have some that will agree in a houston forum but globally these are sad and laughable viewpoints.

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So you don't believe in using common sense? It has often been said that economic stagnation is the friend of historic buildings. Galveston has had virtually no economy for over 100 years. Accordingly, there was no incentive to tear down their buildings. Houston, on the other hand, has added 6.2 million people in the last 113 years. We need the space. Where you seem upset that Houston grew into an economic juggernaut, but had to bulldoze a few old buildings to do it, I am impressed with Houston's stature as the best economy in the country right now.

Of course, if we were being fair, we would also be complaining about why New York, Chicago and LA tore down so much of their history as well. But, we are not fair. Some people look only at Houston and complain, while ignoring the fact that Houston has grown just like other cities have, only faster.

There are other major cities around the world that chose to preserve history and still are economic juggernauts.

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History is important. Honestly I can't win with you and red and August. You guys are for sprawl and against history. You may have some that will agree in a houston forum but globally these are sad and laughable viewpoints.

Yet another example of the twisting of words that loses you respect in this forum. I clearly stated that I was referring specifically to Houston in my comments, yet you are choosing to make a blanket accusation and then attempt to slur my words by calling my viewpoints "sad and laughable".

I'll say it again, I don't think that there was very much that occurred in Houston prior to the 1960s that I would consider to be historically important.

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History is important. Honestly I can't win with you and red and August. You guys are for sprawl and against history. You may have some that will agree in a houston forum but globally these are sad and laughable viewpoints.

 

It is not livincinco, August and I that you are in competition with. It is reality. MetroMogul put it best in another thread. Your views on mass transit in Houston are not based on efficiently moving people. They are a "child's wishlist". You demand rail without understanding its cost or usefulness. You eschew buses without understanding their value. You sneer at suburbs and claim they are in decline, at the same time that new homes and commercial properties are being built in the suburbs. You claim "other cities" do things, and that Houston should also. Yet, your shallow knowledge of those cities comes from reading a blog and occasionally visiting the city.

 

Most of all, when you are presented with well reasoned counterpoints to your "child's wishlist", you respond by claiming everyone is inherently stupid, and by claiming that our views are "sad and laughable viewpoints". What you fail to understand is that Houston did not become the 4th largest city...built on a swamp...by worrying what others thought of us. And you are not the first person to move here and tell us we're doing it all wrong. But, I'll tell you something. For being "sad and laughable", there sure are a lot of people and magazines talking about how Houston is doing it right. Do you really think that telling us that Europe does it better is effective, when Europe is stuck in a terminal recession?

 

I'll take "sad and laughable" Houston, thank you. Sorry to hear you are so miserable here. Reminds me of all the people that moved here from Michigan in the 70s who told us we were doing it all wrong.

 

Oh, and if I am preserving a 108 year old home, and you claim to be preserving 3 40 year old homes in Houston, how can you claim that Houston doesn't care about history? We have hundreds of thousands of homes 40 years old or older. This sounds like an exaggeration. 

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It is not livincinco, August and I that you are in competition with. It is reality. MetroMogul put it best in another thread. Your views on mass transit in Houston are not based on efficiently moving people. They are a "child's wishlist". You demand rail without understanding its cost or usefulness. You eschew buses without understanding their value. You sneer at suburbs and claim they are in decline, at the same time that new homes and commercial properties are being built in the suburbs. You claim "other cities" do things, and that Houston should also. Yet, your shallow knowledge of those cities comes from reading a blog and occasionally visiting the city.

Most of all, when you are presented with well reasoned counterpoints to your "child's wishlist", you respond by claiming everyone is inherently stupid, and by claiming that our views are "sad and laughable viewpoints". What you fail to understand is that Houston did not become the 4th largest city...built on a swamp...by worrying what others thought of us. And you are not the first person to move here and tell us we're doing it all wrong. But, I'll tell you something. For being "sad and laughable", there sure are a lot of people and magazines talking about how Houston is doing it right. Do you really think that telling us that Europe does it better is effective, when Europe is stuck in a terminal recession?

I'll take "sad and laughable" Houston, thank you. Sorry to hear you are so miserable here. Reminds me of all the people that moved here from Michigan in the 70s who told us we were doing it all wrong.

Oh, and if I am preserving a 108 year old home, and you claim to be preserving 3 40 year old homes in Houston, how can you claim that Houston doesn't care about history? We have hundreds of thousands of homes 40 years old or older. This sounds like an exaggeration.

So because we have a booming economy that means the question of building a world class transit system should be ignored? Quality of life is going down in this city as I'm sure you're aware.

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History has a sense of charm. There were various theaters downtown that are gone, the shamrock hotel, prudential building, etc. these things give us a glimpse of the past they are worth preserving. The Taliban blew up Buddha statues in Afghanistan I suppose red August and livincinco are perfectly fine with that.

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So because we have a booming economy that means the question of building a world class transit system should be ignored? Quality of life is going down in this city as I'm sure you're aware.

 

LMAO! You are so laughably naive. I have lived in this burg for 36 years. I lived here when fish could not survive in Buffalo Bayou. I was here when it was named the dirtiest river in the state. I was here when downtown was empty at night, except for drunks, robbers and law students. I remember running to my car after class. I remember getting robbed at gunpoint in RICE VILLAGE!

 

I was here when over 700 people were murdered in Houston annually. I was here when the oil and real estate busts occurred. I was here when the air was literally brown every day, and we passed Los Angeles as the dirtiest air. 

 

Just because we haven't wasted billions of dollars on our trains you want to claim that our quality of life is in decline? You are such a sad pathetic troll. Houston has never had a better quality of life than it currently enjoys. We are expanding economically. Our inner city is densifying. We are redeveloping parks and bayous, and building new ones. People can walk...instead of run at night...downtown. We are praised nationally and internationally as a successful city that is attracting bright and talented workers. We are even beginning to renovate half a dozen old downtown buildings, which is EXACTLY what you complained about in starting this thread.

 

I am quite sure that you will alert the mods that I called you what you are...a pathetic troll. I will address this part to them. Mods, what is the definition of a troll? Look at these recent posts from this poster and see if you can honestly say otherwise. Feel free to delete this post and ban me. I really do not care. At this point, it is clear that this poster is a caricature. None of what he says is true, none of it supported by fact.

 

He is nothing more than a pathetic troll.

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History has a sense of charm. There were various theaters downtown that are gone, the shamrock hotel, prudential building, etc. these things give us a glimpse of the past they are worth preserving. The Taliban blew up Buddha statues in Afghanistan I suppose red August and livincinco are perfectly fine with that.

Dude, you're really just an extremist troll that is incapable of reasonable discussion. You would have fit in perfectly with Joseph McCarthy and his crew because you seem to feel that you can make any statement that you like because you feel that you are "right" while conveniently choosing to not respond to any points that you don't have an answer to.

I would love to have a reasonable discussion about preservation of historic structures. I would also love to have a reasonable discussion about transit in Houston. I'm sure that there are other places on the internet where I might be able to have that discussion without having to deal with the propaganda from the fascist element of this forum.

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LMAO! You are so laughably naive. I have lived in this burg for 36 years. I lived here when fish could not survive in Buffalo Bayou. I was here when it was named the dirtiest river in the state. I was here when downtown was empty at night, except for drunks, robbers and law students. I remember running to my car after class. I remember getting robbed at gunpoint in RICE VILLAGE!

 

I was here when over 700 people were murdered in Houston annually. I was here when the oil and real estate busts occurred. I was here when the air was literally brown every day, and we passed Los Angeles as the dirtiest air. 

 

Just because we haven't wasted billions of dollars on our trains you want to claim that our quality of life is in decline? You are such a sad pathetic troll. Houston has never had a better quality of life than it currently enjoys. We are expanding economically. Our inner city is densifying. We are redeveloping parks and bayous, and building new ones. People can walk...instead of run at night...downtown. We are praised nationally and internationally as a successful city that is attracting bright and talented workers. We are even beginning to renovate half a dozen old downtown buildings, which is EXACTLY what you complained about in starting this thread.

 

I am quite sure that you will alert the mods that I called you what you are...a pathetic troll. I will address this part to them. Mods, what is the definition of a troll? Look at these recent posts from this poster and see if you can honestly say otherwise. Feel free to delete this post and ban me. I really do not care. At this point, it is clear that this poster is a caricature. None of what he says is true, none of it supported by fact.

 

He is nothing more than a pathetic troll.

 

http://houston.culturemap.com/news/city_life/02-27-13-no-laughing-matter-houston-trending-in-wrong-direction-with-quality-of-life-eroding-survey-says/

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I'm embarrassed for that guy. I am aghast that he can claim that Chicago has a better quality of life than Houston with a straight face. To claim that Houston has a problem with white flight while Chicago is losing population and leads the country in murders is stunning. And, our adjusted wage is highest in the country. Oh well, doesn't change my views on your posts. From this point forward, I will ignore any post that exhibits trolling characteristics.

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https://www.houston.org/business/news-rankings.html

 

http://www.creditdonkey.com/where-young-professionals.html

 

I agree with Redscare. Every one of these threads started by Slick Vic just becomes another place for him to bash Houston and start arguments.

 

"Quality of life" is subjective. What one person hates about Houston could very well be the exact reason that someone else loves Houston. There's no real right or wrong. Judging by Houston's consistent attraction in terms of drawing population from other places, and it's consistently high rankings on real quality of life issues like employment, affordability, growth and dynamics -  it's pretty obvious that Houston's positives far outweigh its negatives for most people. I think Houston's world wide appeal speaks for itself and no internet troll's bizarre opinions can diminish that. 

 

It must be rough for people who don't like Houston these days. Houston is improving everyday for the majority.

 

 

Edited by Hugh Stone
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I am preserving a 40 year old home myself one of three that i own. You can keep trying to put me down but in life you can not defeat me.

 

Ah yes, we can now add to Slick's economic profile three (3) houses (only 1 of them as old as 40 yrs, the others presumably newer) to go along with the Mercedes Benz, Prius, and extensive world traveling. And all that while providing support to your rather large family of public transit riding immigrants.

 

It is clear, Slick, why you cannot be defeated - you are the Bill Gates of the Bayou, the the Rockefeller of Rail.

 

IOW you're flush pal, and in America that gives you the right to condescend....

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Slick may have made a fool of himself on the HAIF (I know I have before, but I got better) though I think he does have some point in preserving buildings. But let's face it--there is a "functional lifespan" to a lot of these things, and some judgement must be taken in sentiment and architectural uniqueness. Astrodome? Yeah, I'd love to see it saved. Prudential Building? No tears shed from me.

 

Here's another thing: preserving buildings takes money, which is in short supply for civic entities.

 

You seem to have a bit of scratch yourself, Slick--why not use your monetary clout to help save one of your favorites?

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Yeah, Galveston has a rich history of historic preservation. That's why you drive that attractive stretch of Broadway from 71st to 25th filled with Target, Mickey D's, gas stations, cheap furniture stores, et al. :

Galveston has the few blocks around The Strand, the eastern neighborhoods, the painted ladies, and a handful of homes on P and Q Streets.

Galvestonians, effectively, ignored much of what is preserved there over many years as more western neighborhoods became more fashionable. This is not unlike how many of Houston's historic zones were considered rather déclassé areas at one time.

If it had not been for the investment of George Mitchell, a B.O.I., in the Strand area, I'm not sure where Galveston would be today. Even now, they have a fragile environment where one cruise ship crapping out can really damage Strand business.

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Galveston has an organization that was created to preserve local history, but their work is confined to the "old" area in and around downtown Galveston, the roughly one square mile from Broadway over to Mechanic St between 19th and 10th streets. The East End Historical District Association is esssentially a homeowners association with strong regulations and sharp teeth to enforce them.  
 
Property owners cannot do anything to change the appearance of their home or building. They can maintain it of course, but the EEHD must approve the work in advance. They can't repair storm damage unless the EEHD Board approves every iota of the work. 

 

I used to know a guy who lived in one of the old houses in that district and over time he grew to hate it. He told horror stories about the bureaucratic hoops he had to jump through just to get permission to paint his house. He needed to replace some old decaying wood on his porch, and it took several months to get the EEHD board to approve it. He finally sold the house and moved out to another area on the island. 

 

He says beautiful historic neighborhoods can be nice, for tourists, but not so much for people who live there. He said it's like living in a museum.

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I went to Galveston in 2012 for a relative's wedding. It was cloudy and windy for a good part of the trip, and everything was run-down and fairly ugly. Even the historic building where they were having the wedding was clearly starting to fall apart, and the Strand was just nothing like it was even four years prior. There were a couple of touristy gift shops and a head shop open. Shops along Seawall Boulevard included things like "Bad Boyz Tatu".

 

I can admit that in Houston, "old downtown-style buildings" and original houses do tend to have a short "shelf life" but it all depends on what neighborhood you're in.

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Not sure. A few months later (after Prudential), the same demo company (can't remember the name) did an 18-level hotel in College Station, except there the furniture was donated, the wiring stripped, etc. They even had it used by firemen and police officers as training. By the time was imploded, you could see through the building, because there was nothing there.

 

Prudential probably was salvaged somehow.

Edited by IronTiger
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  • 5 months later...

Part of the answer to that question is tourism. Galveston is largely a tourist-driven economy and so giving all the tourists things to do, includes letting them ooh and ahh at all they great old buildings which include shops, meusems and places tourists love. You will find this to be the case in most cities that have strong preservation ordinances. Most of Galveston's later history is bound up in the tourist trade. Its early history was as the nation's 2nd largest seaport. it wasn't quite so well groomed then, and parts today are still shaggy.  Essentially, places like Galveston are incentivised to keep themselves in shape --including their older buildings -- because doing so helps capture tourist dollars. You will also notice that those cities tend to be cleaner and prettier because they want tourists to continue coming back. Galveston has two things going for it which make it a tourist destination: a seaside location, (yes, I know it is a gulf-coast city,) and size. I come from a city very much like Galveston and it is kept very neat and tidy in the conspicuous touristy areas where historic preservation is a very big part of the civic/commerce dynamic. Other parts of the city are sort of left to fend for themselves.  Austin is another great tourist destination, becuase of not only its history, but its topography (oooh hills and a river!) and also because of UT as well as   pockets of Bohehim flair such as 6th Strteet. (Ohhh we can walk around in the streets and its all so open-air -- cool!) Houston has neither of these two; it is big, sprawling, and doesn't really care about tourists although "conventioners" and trade shows are important. But that is a different market than tourism. You will notice, for example, that the Galleria area is quite nice. It gets  a huge amount of tourist traffic moreso than say the Houston Ship Channel which is kind of an industrial armpit, but necessary.  But Houston is not a tourist city, which may help explain the difference. I'm sure there are other reasons, which others may contribute or even refine my ideas but this is what comes first to mind.

Edited by A Colvin
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So you don't believe in using common sense? It has often been said that economic stagnation is the friend of historic buildings. Galveston has had virtually no economy for over 100 years. Accordingly, there was no incentive to tear down their buildings. Houston, on the other hand, has added 6.2 million people in the last 113 years. We need the space. Where you seem upset that Houston grew into an economic juggernaut, but had to bulldoze a few old buildings to do it, I am impressed with Houston's stature as the best economy in the country right now.

 

Of course, if we were being fair, we would also be complaining about why New York, Chicago and LA tore down so much of their history as well. But, we are not fair. Some people look only at Houston and complain, while ignoring the fact that Houston has grown just like other cities have, only faster.

 

This mean-spirited answer is both obnoxious and wrong. Galveston's economy is dervided largely from its tourists trade, and your snobbish attitude against preservation  has nothing to do with why it occus in Galveston. Galveston has an economic incentive to keep its historic buildings preserved  for the same reason every other tourist city such as Austin --6th street anyone? --  does: because of their  economic role  in the citiy's fiscal health  which is also tied to its history, and so the tourists come and spend money and take pictures, and eat and sleep, etc.  Bragging about a  city like Houston with its massive urban sprawl, crime rate, pollution, povery rate, homelessness, and every other major urban issue that plagues as compared  to a small tourst island town like Galveston with regard to their respective approaches to preservation is hopelessly misinformed. Houston has no economic incentive to keep them, and uses the excuse of "development" to eliminate them, (usually citing economic groth or population explosion fuigures, which are just projections.) Plus it has a very soft  pro-preservation community, (they of course disagree,)  who pay a great deal of lip service to preservation but do very little as the city basically steam rolls over them. But the city loves big developers, so its pretty much a crappy situation.  For all its boasts about "population growth, " the city  rarely mentions the number of empty office and residentail spaces downtown or the high buiness turnover which pockmark the innercity landscape during these so-called booms. Houston does not need "space." -- unless you count the double lots needed for the grotesque McMansions, ruining old neighborhoods everywhere or the antique buildings it likes to knock down for some New Ubanist "multi-use" travesty complete with a Starbucks just like the other Starbucks a block away which also accounts for the schizophrenic appearence of many, many neighborhoods.   It has plenty of space which is why it keeps sprawling outward. Suburbs?  Tons of them with no end in sight. Cities that need space build more verically, than horizonatally because they have no choice. See New York., which has to make space by knocking down buildings whereas  Houston just spreads because it has more space than it knows what to do with and uses the lame "population growth"  argument to continue its urban blight and sprawl,  despite the very serious issue with subsidence and flooding which will continue to  worsen as the population continues to  add pressures to dwindling resources. Finally, Obviously, econiomic stagnation is NOT  a friend to historic buildings, if you look at, gee I don't know..DETROIT.  Unless preservation (like  environmental protection) is incentivised to make it part of your working economy (See: tourism) than old  buildings,  like environmental issues,  tend to get neglected in favor of more "profitable" ideas.  Houston is a very profit-centerd, service oriented oil and banking city with lots of heavy industry. thrown in. It likes its bling, so Old buildings kind of get in the way of   its  concept  of free-market enterprise and "progress."  which your post clearly refects.   You'll hear Houstonians scream a lot about taxes when it comes to preservation, but they don't mind poisening each other when comes to their air or water, nor a  high crime rate so long as they can live behind iron gates in their condos and McMansions. Go figure.

 

 

Edited by A Colvin
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The better question is: Why does Houston (more specifically most Houstonians) have such an odd view on preservation?

Cities that are younger: Portland/Seattle/Miami do better jobs of preserving their historic buildings/districts/neighborhoods than Houston.  Yet those towns, much like Houston, are also strong economies and have seen quite a few boom periods of growth.  They are hardly stagnant cities with failing economies.

 

Strange that we view the idea of preservation as archaic.

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Galveston didn't start caring much about preservation until the late 60s/70s, it wasn't until later when people like George Mitchell stepped in that people really started to care:

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2013/08/06/george-mitchell-mr-galveston.html?page=all

 

I think Houston is slowly catching up to Galveston's preservation movement, but unfortunately it's too late for a lot of the buildings because, as was said earlier in this thread, there was a demand to tear down old and replace with new (or parking lots), whereas in Galveston that wasn't necessarily the case. The latest market square revival is a big step in at least getting some people to notice what history is left in Houston.

 

Houston has a handful of "Galveston-esque" buildings, and it's more important now than ever to raise awareness and preserve. For example, old Galveston cotton exchange (demolished 1940):

 

Cotton%20Exchange.jpg

 

Houston cotton exchange (extant):

 

5d747892-24f2-4bb4-832f-b277a649ef0c.jpg

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That's pretty much true for just about every city in America.  It wasn't until the demolition of Pennsylvania Station in the 1960s in New York that Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy spear-headed the preservation movement in America.  Now, Galveston has an historical preservation society that was founded in 1954, which pre-dates much of the preservation movement here in the US.  So it was very "forward" looking for that era.  Galveston has preserved many old buildings despite the fact that post 1900-Hurricane it was still an economic powerhouse (sure some of the luster came off, but it was still a large and vibrant city - by the standards of Texas at the time).  And up until the depression it was still a viable economic city.  Galveston suffers economically because the town lacks any real drive to draw new businesses via tax incentives and the like.  Besides that 100% of Galveston counties subsidized housing was here pre-Ike, and that caused many of the resources on the Island to be used suplementing that area of the island, putting undue strain on local EMS/Law Enforcement etc, thereby eating tax revenue that could have been used elsewhere.  It is the largest employment base in Galveston county (by far), despite being only the 3rd largest city (I believe both League City with 85,000+ and Texas City with around 50,000 are larger).

 

Galveston, is, despite its legacy a working city.  People think of it as only a resort town, but the 2 universities, port and countless professionals who live here think otherwise.  Now the city could very well attract some business besides the trinket shops and occassional restaurant on The Strand, but that's local government not a lack of desire from the local populous.

 

Also, in regards to owning a historic home...  I don't own one, but have worked on many historical buildings.  I think Galveston has done a good job of controlling what goes in/out of certain neighborhoods.  To maintain the overall historical feel of a historical district is important.  Galveston has devised some of the strongest preservation laws in the country, in fact, they are often copied by other cities.  Houston, also has laws to protect historical buildings, but is far more lenient towards law-breakers (or at least was).  The mindset is that Galveston is unique.  Which it is.  More unique than Houston.  Which it is.  The preservation of that has driven countless professionals towards that city that want to help guide along for future generations.  And to those who say "There are ratty buildings in Galveston..."  Of course there are.  Many need work.  The last round of preservation work for many of those buildings was 30+ years ago (if ever).  The climate we live in -greater Houston area- is very damaging to ANY building, let along those constructed of wood, or supported by wood that are 50+ years old.

 

To those who don't like older buildings, that is your choice.  History needs to be preserved.  Not for us, but for those to come.  If your desires are to build your life and worry not about those who came before, then please, go do so; that is your prerogative.  But for those of us who decided to try and preserve that old building where so many memories were shaped and created, please don't condemn our choices either.  Much like a book at the local bookery, if you don't like it, don't buy it/don't read it/move on, but don't associate those who do find it tantilizing to be less sophisticated, or less educated than you. [Which is the general vibe I get from the earlier postings about how antiquated it is to preserve anything, forgive me if I didn't read that correctly]

Edited by arche_757
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^I think the early responses to this thread started to become rather incendiary and hostile.  They missed the point in an effort to insult one another (it would appear).  I would appreciate Redscare's response to what I posted though.

Edited by arche_757
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  • 3 months later...

I know there are those who can't stand anything old. I can understand that viewpoint. But I'm not one of them. I would like to see some of the buildings remain, for people, and future artists in particular, to experience the actual architectural works. Some things you just can't get from a sketch, blueprint, or photograph... At a young age, I sensed the darkness of a Victorian mansion (East End), the simplicity of a bungalow, the sleek, yet ornate details of the original Sears Bldg., the heavy, yet airy, multi-tiered feel of Brutalism (HISD bldg.), the exquisite landscape design and refinement of the Prudential Bldg. (fountains, light stone with contrasting bronze or copper details - interior). These experiences impress. I can still remember the color of the pool, looking down from an office view, many stories above it. I was no more than six, at the time. In my eyes, the Prudential has always been a prime example of perfect space planning, where everything came together, beautifully. I'm sure that though the years, the urban landscape of the bldg. was compromised, chopped up, thrown off balance.

In other words, the architect's vision was destroyed.

I wonder about the materials in these older buildings... What did they use? Is it something we don't have available anymore? I know it wasn't all good, and they can't all be saved...Lead paint, asbestos, to name a few problems. But the quality materials in some older buildings is/ was extremely high. Hopefully, the irreplaceable pieces are recognized and salvaged. As for our health, IMO, we have seemed to swap some issues for others.

I respect architectural examples from all eras, including the most recent. I believe there can be a balance of old and new structures. I have grown up in this bayou city. It has inspired my love of architecture. But I have to wonder at what cost do we destroy our past. I cannot fathom how such a great Fine Arts community can disregard architectural preservation. It disturbs my soul.

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I wonder about the materials in these older buildings... What did they use? Is it something we don't have available anymore? I know it wasn't all good, and they can't all be saved...Lead paint, asbestos, to name a few problems. But the quality materials in some older buildings is/ was extremely high. Hopefully, the irreplaceable pieces are recognized and salvaged.

 

A large part of the historic fabric of Galveston is built of wood. As stated earlier, the climate in the Gulf Coast area, and on the island particularly, is not kind to wood. That said, much of the material in these older buildings (pre-WW II mostly) is probably old growth pine and even cypress in some cases. Cypress (which grows in swampy areas) is very resistant to the types of attack that are prevalent in humid climates though it is, of course, not completely immune.

 

My sub-discipline of focus in architecture school was historic preservation. Over the past 22+ years since I graduated some, but only a minority, of the work I've done has involved preservation. Even so I worked with some very well informed and astute people and learned much from them. One important trend I've noticed is that materials are constantly getting better (more durable, easier to work with, and, in many cases, more environmentally conscientious) but craftsmanship, for the most part, seems to be on the decline. Maybe the carpenters and roofers of the old days were more in tune with the environment than we give them credit. They seemed to know how to make things last; what can be more responsible than that?

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I used to know a guy who lived in one of the old houses in that district and over time he grew to hate it. He told horror stories about the bureaucratic hoops he had to jump through just to get permission to paint his house. He needed to replace some old decaying wood on his porch, and it took several months to get the EEHD board to approve it. He finally sold the house and moved out to another area on the island. 

 

He says beautiful historic neighborhoods can be nice, for tourists, but not so much for people who live there. He said it's like living in a museum.

 

Don't you have to have permission in most Houston neighborhoods to paint your house? Even if your not in a historical part of Houston? Hasn't homeowners associations and the lawyers running them taken over most of Houston neighborhoods?

 

I moved to Houston in 1999 and paid cash for our house, in 2000 we wanted to do some home improvements to the back side of the house that wasn't visible from the street or from back neighbors because of the bayou that ran behind the house and our request was turned down, That's when the association told us we only owned the house and that they owned the land the house was on. If this is true does Houston homeowners that are in neighborhoods that have homeowner associations mean these homeowners don't own the mineral rights to the land their house is on? We moved out of Houston in 2001 to Arlington, Tx. where you don't see homeowners associations.

 

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Most Houston neigborhoods that aren't in master planned communities don't have Homeowners Associations, and people in those neighborhoods are free to do pretty much anything they want with their houses. It's common to see people running businesses out of their homes. Garages turned into beauty salons and even car repair shops are common. This is one of the direct results of the fact that Houston has no zoning laws. With zoning neighborhoods could be zoned "Residential Only" and residential businesses wouldn't be allowed.

 

Some neighborhoods have managed to develop Covenants in which homeowners promise to abide by certain standards and guidelines, but they're not legally enforceable.

 

Most of the MPCs with HA's are outside the City of Houston, and they have the power to require residents to get permission to do anything that changes the appearance of their house. I don't know who told you the HA owns the land your house is on, but I'm almost certain that's not true. HA's do have some outrageous foreclosure powers over your property if you ignore the rules or don't keep up your HA dues, and that's caused a lot of outrage and legal battles over the years.

 

The mineral rights are another and more complicated story. In Texas, land sellers can sell the surface rights and mineral rights separately. Take a good look at the fine print on your Deed. I think you'll find the mineral rights are owned by somebody you never heard of.

 

Welcome to Houston.

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  • 3 years later...
On 12/12/2013 at 9:54 AM, arche_757 said:

The better question is: Why does Houston (more specifically most Houstonians) have such an odd view on preservation?

Cities that are younger: Portland/Seattle/Miami do better jobs of preserving their historic buildings/districts/neighborhoods than Houston.  Yet those towns, much like Houston, are also strong economies and have seen quite a few boom periods of growth.  They are hardly stagnant cities with failing economies.

 

Strange that we view the idea of preservation as archaic.

Both Portland and Seattle were much larger than Houston at an earlier decade, so they have more stock to spare. As for Miami, it's really Miami Beach that has the history.

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