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Mysterious little farm on West Alabama in late '60s


Libbie

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Some years ago I mentioned this, but nobody remembered it. Maybe some new/old members will.

 

When I was at Lamar High School in the '60s, there was a Brigadoon-like little farm nearby on Alabama. It was, I think, just a bit west of Buffalo Speedway, on the south side of the street: a small farm with rustic farmhouse and cornfield, often being hoed by an elderly lady in a sunbonnet. There was/were skyscraper(s) on either on or both sides; next door, or almost so, was a convenience store.

 

There was, at the time, absolutely nothing rural about that part of W. Alabama except the amazingly incongruous little farm. Some big oak trees partly obscured it, but, of course, not entirely, or I wouldn't have seen it and wondered about it so intensely. (When I drive past where it must have been, I try unsuccessfully to pick out what may be its still-extant trees; and it could have been east of Buffalo, but not by much).

 

I went off to college in 1969 and had other things to wonder about. By the time I was really grown up and looked for it again, it was long gone. Does anybody remember that little hold-out farm and its bonnetted owner?

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Hmmm.  In Google Earth '44 and '53 I see several things on the south side of Alabama and on the west side of Buffalo Speedway that could be plausibly a small farmhouse surrounded by trees.  Also a little compound on the northeast corner of Buffalo and Alabama on the '53 map.  Hard to get any real detail at those resolutions.

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It seems that the SW corner of Timmons is a plausible candidate; tilled fields behind the treed house-lot, and gone by '73... (historicaerials.com link)

 

Yeah, the SW corner of Timmons makes sense! Because it was far enough west of the back of Lamar High school (as I remember) that you couldn't see it from right there; it was almost certainly a few blocks to the west. Timmons would be just aboutg right. And when I came back from college in '73 it was gone. Thanks, Strickn! (But it looks like I'm the only one that actually remembers seeing the little farm).

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There still is a little bit of a little farm surrounded by shopping centers at NASA Rd. 1 and the Gulf Freeway.  It's been encroached upon over the years.

 

That's the remnants of the old Friendswood Field, later the Webster Unit. Never farmed, as far as I know, but ranched - it was part of the West Ranch before Humble bought it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well horse drawn wagons were still allowed in Houston in the mid 50's so there was still money to be made selling out the back of a wagon, maybe the woman had some buyers for her crops.  There was an old colored gentleman that had a mule team which pulled a very old rubber tired wooden wagon in the Heights as late as 58.  My family bought fresh vegetables from him often.  Nothing like progess.... I guess

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  • 3 months later...

It seems that the SW corner of Timmons is a plausible candidate; tilled fields behind the treed house-lot, and gone by '73... (historicaerials.com link)

I think I found it! I drove past the the 3600 block of Alabama, just east of Timmons (3617, to be exact), and  I think that's it.

 

A high wall obscures everything except the tops of some trees and some plastic-covered unidentifiable things that could be old boxes or old furniture, and if you really crane your neck, you can see that the trees are in a big yard without much of anything else in it--as though, perhaps, after the demise of the little farm, the trees and yard had remained, no longer Brigadoon-like, no longer like much of anything, but still set back and hidden from view. 

 

According to a sign on the street, a contracting business called Doerner Industries has an office somewhere on the property.

 

It's no longer a rural anachronism, but it's still mysterious looking.

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I think I found it! I drove past the the 3600 block of Alabama, just east of Timmons (3617, to be exact), and  I think that's it.

 

A high wall obscures everything except the tops of some trees and some plastic-covered unidentifiable things that could be old boxes or old furniture, and if you really crane your neck, you can see that the trees are in a big yard without much of anything else in it--as though, perhaps, after the demise of the little farm, the trees and yard had remained, no longer Brigadoon-like, no longer like much of anything, but still set back and hidden from view. 

 

According to a sign on the street, a contracting business called Doerner Industries has an office somewhere on the property.

 

It's no longer a rural anachronism, but it's still mysterious looking.

Doerner (dur'-nur) is one of the few remaining plastering contractors in the city. By plastering I mean traditional gypsum plaster installed over lath on the interior walls of buildings that was prevalent before gypsum drywall (Sheetrock is a popular brand name) became so widely used. I've had Doerner on projects in the past from historic restoration to new high-end commercial buildings. The do great work but, as with so many true crafts, it is not cheap.

 

I believe the plastic covered things are the materials of their trade (lime, gypsum, etc.) being protected from the elements.

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Doerner has owned that property since 1963, according to the County Clerk's site, so I doubt that's the place the OP remembers. In addition, the property was heavily treed in the 50'sThe SW corner of Timmons and Alabama looks more like a farm or garden in the historic aerials

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Doerner (dur'-nur) is one of the few remaining plastering contractors in the city. By plastering I mean traditional gypsum plaster installed over lath on the interior walls of buildings that was prevalent before gypsum drywall (Sheetrock is a popular brand name) became so widely used. I've had Doerner on projects in the past from historic restoration to new high-end commercial buildings. The do great work but, as with so many true crafts, it is not cheap.

 

I believe the plastic covered things are the materials of their trade (lime, gypsum, etc.) being protected from the elements.

Interesting!

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Some years ago I mentioned this, but nobody remembered it. Maybe some new/old members will.

 

When I was at Lamar High School in the '60s, there was a Brigadoon-like little farm nearby on Alabama. It was, I think, just a bit west of Buffalo Speedway, on the south side of the street: a small farm with rustic farmhouse and cornfield, often being hoed by an elderly lady in a sunbonnet. There was/were skyscraper(s) on either on or both sides; next door, or almost so, was a convenience store.

 

There was, at the time, absolutely nothing rural about that part of W. Alabama except the amazingly incongruous little farm. Some big oak trees partly obscured it, but, of course, not entirely, or I wouldn't have seen it and wondered about it so intensely. (When I drive past where it must have been, I try unsuccessfully to pick out what may be its still-extant trees; and it could have been east of Buffalo, but not by much).

 

I went off to college in 1969 and had other things to wonder about. By the time I was really grown up and looked for it again, it was long gone. Does anybody remember that little hold-out farm and its bonnetted owner?

I think I found it! I drove past the the 3600 block of Alabama, just east of Timmons (3617, to be exact), and  I think that's it.

 

A high wall obscures everything except the tops of some trees and some plastic-covered unidentifiable things that could be old boxes or old furniture, and if you really crane your neck, you can see that the trees are in a big yard without much of anything else in it--as though, perhaps, after the demise of the little farm, the trees and yard had remained, no longer Brigadoon-like, no longer looking like much of anything, but still set back and hidden from view. 

 

According to a sign on the street, a contracting business called Doerner Industries has an office somewhere on the property.

 

It's no longer a rural anachronism, but it's still mysterious looking.

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Doerner (dur'-nur) is one of the few remaining plastering contractors in the city. By plastering I mean traditional gypsum plaster installed over lath on the interior walls of buildings that was prevalent before gypsum drywall (Sheetrock is a popular brand name) became so widely used. I've had Doerner on projects in the past from historic restoration to new high-end commercial buildings. The do great work but, as with so many true crafts, it is not cheap.

 

I believe the plastic covered things are the materials of their trade (lime, gypsum, etc.) being protected from the elements.

 

The Doerner family has a long history in Houston. The family patriarch and founder of the plastering company died in 2002, and his obituary has some additional background:

 

 

 

KARL DOERNER, born January 31, 1906 at Pachuta, Mississippi, died Houston, January 14, 2002 of old age. Married Alma Sutton in Florida, 1927, then moved to Houston in 1929. Founded Doerner Plastering Co. in Florida, and moved the company to Houston. He also founded Doerner Industries in Houston. He was preceded in death by his wife and his grandson Nelson Bennett Doerner. Survived by son, Karl Jr. and wife, Joan Bennett Doerner; grandchildren Karl III, Alison, Mark and wife, Clara; and Randal. Also his sister, Mary Hammond and nephew Louis Hammond; care-giver Martha DeLeon and cater-cousins Lane Johnston and Marion Saylors. Memorial service at Christ Church Cathedral, Friday, January 18, 2002 at 3:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers send donations to Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Ave., 77002, or March of Dimes. 

- See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?n=karl-doerner&pid=194144#sthash.zpZwlbbt.dpuf

 

His son, also named Karl, just recently passed away last November at the age of 85. He is the person who's listed as the owner of the property in question on HCAD's site (although I'd expect that to change, as the family residence is now listed as being owned by his estate). 

 

 

 

Karl Doerner, Jr, was born July 18, 1929 in Houston, Texas. Karl grew up in Cherryhurst. He attended Woodrow Wilson, Lanier, Lamar, and Rice. As a child, he was a member of the Popeye Club, which met on Saturdays at the Tower Theater. He took up the trumpet and played in Cliff Drescher's Cowboy Band. Later, he formed his own band and was popular locally.

While at Rice, he met his wife, Joan Bennett, earned his BA ('51), as well as MS degrees in Civil ('52) and Mechanical engineering ('53).

He worked with his father at Doerner Plastering Co. and contributed to such notable buildings as the Pennzoil Building, Transco Tower, Hobby and IAH airports, and many of the original NASA buildings. He was most proud of their work on the Wortham Theater Center.

Somehow, he also managed to research cancer at Baylor College of Medicine, publish articles on theoretical biology, and guest lecture at Oxford University in England.

He had a fun sense of humor. When his children were young, he would advise them to eat their vegetables or risk catching the dreaded disease "Diabungbootis." Once, while exploring a Civil War battlefield, he encountered a group of re-enactors advancing, bayonets a-gleaming, so he waved his handkerchief over his head and yelled "I surrender!"

He enjoyed cruises on the tall ship Sea Cloud and cruising the Gulf Coast on his own sloop, Two Tars. He also enjoyed frequent trips to Jamaica and Italy, and napping through the many operas and ballets he attended.

Evenings, later in life, you would find him seated at his desk reading a favorite book by Faulkner or Updike. He once discovered an error in Joseph Heller's Something Happened. Heller acknowledged the error and thanked him for the discovery. Later, he discovered an error in a novel by John Updike. Updike also thanked him for the correction.

Still alive are three of his five children: Alison, Mark, and Randal. Also, daughter-in-law, Erica, and four grandchildren: Dylan, Julian, Ellery, and Helene.

A reception will be held at his home November 15 between 10am-12pm. His ashes will be buried in Washington County near Burton, TX at the Bethany Christian Church Cemetery, where his wife, their two sons (Nelson and Karl III), and daughter-in-law (Mary Francis) await him. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?n=karl-doerner&pid=173089317&fhid=17874#sthash.cAThDSWP.dpuf

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  • 2 weeks later...

Doerner has owned that property since 1963, according to the County Clerk's site, so I doubt that's the place the OP remembers. In addition, the property was heavily treed in the 50'sThe SW corner of Timmons and Alabama looks more like a farm or garden in the historic aerials

When I used to ride my bike in the area nearly 50 years ago, that part of the block was indeed treed and not just looking like a farm or garden, but obviously WAS a small farm or large garden, complete with farmhouse and sunbonneted farm woman. My memory is that in 1966 or so, the farmhouse, field, and trees were not on the corner but were surrounded by modern buildings (one of them pretty tall, one of them maybe a U Tote'em or something else completely non-rural), yet the tiny slice of rural America remained there on West Alabama near Timmons as the rest of the area kept pace with march of modernity. I don't remember Doerner's, but its building was probably one of those right next to the little farm. 

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