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With the "goodbyes" said and chain-link security fence erected, all that awaits Incarnate Word Academy's 110-year-old downtown school building is the wrecking ball. 

Demolition of the three-story brick red building ‑ the last Houston edifice totally designed by famed 19th century Texas architect Nicholas Clayton ‑ will make way for a new, $8.5 million, six-story structure to open for the 2016-2017 school year.

Plans for the building's demolition spurred protests from history-minded architects and former students, but leaders of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, the building's owner, said rehabilitation would have cost at least $300,000 and would not have resulted in a structure adequate to the school's needs.

Sandwiched between modern school buildings on the 600 Crawford Street campus, the doomed building will be the third Clayton-designed structure razed by the nuns since the 1940s. Another Clayton building nearby, a school associated with the Annunciation Catholic Church, was razed in 1997.

Sister Lauren Beck, president of the teaching order and of the school, founded in 1873, said the decision to demolish was made "in the past eight months."

"We do appreciate that this is an older building, but we have to look at the needs of the school," Beck said. "There is no more land down here and we are landlocked. While we loved having some of the old and some of the new, we decided that the building could not drive the mission of the school. The needs of the school come first."

 

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Incarnate-Word-Academy-plans-to-raze-historic-6139685.php#photo-7670882

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Pity. And the timing is weird for me. I was downtown on Sunday and I stopped to admire this building, surprised that I'd never really noticed it before. I even wondered if it was one of Nicolas Clayton's structures. You can really tell that it is. So, I'm happy that I spotted it and Identified it. But, really sad to hear that it is going.

Always surprised at some decisions the Catholic Church, and other catholic organizations, make regarding their Architectural Assets (They were very close to demolishing Sacrad Heart on Broadway in Galveston, just a few years back.) And, their "efforts" to preserve and protect Bishops Palace were barely adequate, if that. They made the Galveston Historical Foundation pay a pretty price for the place, to boot. The Foundation is having to raise a huge sum of cash it just to bring it up to respectable and stable condition. What the Diocese could've done is to have given it to the Foundation, to ensure that the Palace would be taken care of properly, and open to the public...Rather than sell to the highest bidder.

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Always surprised at some decisions the Catholic Church, and other catholic organizations, make regarding their Architectural Assets...

 

When it comes to such things they behave consistent with any large centrally controlled bureaucracy, which is to say, inconsistently and heavily influencenced by politics. 

 

Incarnate Word's needs are what they are, and if they don't move to improve the school when they need to accommodate an old building, the school will suffer the same fate as Mt. Carmel or other shuttered Catholic schools, so I can't blame them for making that choice. The Diocese of Galveston-Houston is not in the business of maintaining old expensive buildings that are inadequate for its needs, notwithstanding the additional costs it incurs to maintain new expensive buildings that are arguably more than they need. 

 

Seems like they could salvage some of the doorway and other unique elements, if it was in the budget to do so.

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I'm an alumna of Incarnate Word and attended the "Farewell" party for the building on Saturday. 

 

When I was in school there in the late 80s, the building was home to approximately 5 sisters.   The last 2 sisters vacated the building sometime last year. Prior to my time at the academy, the building was used for classrooms.  However the inside had been reconfigured so many times in the past century, that there was nothing left from the original architecture.

 

Last fall, we were supposed to have a special dinner in the building for alumnae, but it was cancelled due to the lack of structural integrity of the building.   They said the floor was too uneven, and they were afraid someone would fall. 

 

According to Sr. Lauren Beck, the mosaic tiles on the building will be saved and incorporated into a sign on the existing building.   

 

I, for one, am all for the construction of a new building there.  We have to remember that the school is not there to serve the past, but to educate and serve current and future students.  That is their mission.

 

 

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This is such a travesty.  Every day I look out my window, see the beautiful old building, and then see it flanked by those hideous gray ~1980s monstrosities.  If anything they should tear down the gray buildings, not the old building.

 

At the very least they should leave the façade and build the new building behind it.  That's fairly common in Europe, to keep the historical feel while still being modern.

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Pretty disgusted and appalled at this but then again Houston embraces and encourages destroying its past with such a passion. I imagine the new building will look similar to the ugly ones surrounding it.

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I think they should take this opportunity to do something historic and help save a great example of Nicholas Clayton's

architecture here in Houston..

Here is a twist of fate that is a little ironic.

The sisters of Incarnate Word want to stay down town and build there new building where the Nicholas Clayton wing now stands.

John Nau and his group had planned on building on the adjacent block a history museum.

That failed and they are now in the process of giving the donations back.

Why not trade the vacant lot next to the school for the Nicholas Clayton building and repurpose it into a history Museum. That way the nuns can build there new campus right next door.

John Nau can save a historic landmark and possibly still create a history museum.

and the city can make a statement on historic preservation and start a new era of saving our past for the future.

Isn't that kind of what Nau was planing anyway.

I posted this on the Nau page also.

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This is such a travesty.  Every day I look out my window, see the beautiful old building, and then see it flanked by those hideous gray ~1980s monstrosities.  If anything they should tear down the gray buildings, not the old building.

 

At the very least they should leave the façade and build the new building behind it.  That's fairly common in Europe, to keep the historical feel while still being modern.

 

Interesting idea to keep the facade and build new behind that.  Reagan High School in the Heights did something similar, I believe. 

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This is a great idea.  Call Sheila Jackson Lee and tell her she will get lots of time on TV and she will champion this idea like it was her own.

 

I think they should take this opportunity to do something historic and help save a great example of Nicholas Clayton's
architecture here in Houston..
Here is a twist of fate that is a little ironic.
The sisters of Incarnate Word want to stay down town and build there new building where the Nicholas Clayton wing now stands.
John Nau and his group had planned on building on the adjacent block a history museum.
That failed and they are now in the process of giving the donations back.
Why not trade the vacant lot next to the school for the Nicholas Clayton building and repurpose it into a history Museum. That way the nuns can build there new campus right next door.
John Nau can save a historic landmark and possibly still create a history museum.
and the city can make a statement on historic preservation and start a new era of saving our past for the future.
Isn't that kind of what Nau was planing anyway.

I posted this on the Nau page also.

 

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This is a great idea.  Call Sheila Jackson Lee and tell her she will get lots of time on TV and she will champion this idea like it was her own.

 

Yeah we should be doing some sort of phone call Tsunami! There has to be a better way. I completely agree with what has been said above. If there is anything that should be destroyed and rebuilt its the stuff around it! This decision to demolish this and wedge something new in there without looking at the entire campus is simply baffling. People should be calling those donors who were pouring their money into something so cheesy and tell them...hey if you want to really save some history or really show houstons past then find a way to keep this building and figure out the needs of the school and improve the area overall. This isn't the first time these shortsighted nuns demolished some otherwise worthwhile architecture. I'm surprised they haven't demolished their own church -.-

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This is such a travesty. Every day I look out my window, see the beautiful old building, and then see it flanked by those hideous gray ~1980s monstrosities. If anything they should tear down the gray buildings, not the old building.

At the very least they should leave the façade and build the new building behind it. That's fairly common in Europe, to keep the historical feel while still being modern.

It's worse than we thought ...here's a render of the replacement.

Blends right in with those "hideous gray ~1980s monstrosities" around it.

https://twitter.com/thachadwick/status/579706695103823872

Edited by tigereye

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As a high school student in a restored historic building it was never really good enough, if this will help educate more students I'm all for it. 

Edited by bobert

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although, i am really saddened by the fact that the IWA officials felt that they just could not rehabilitate such a glorious and historic current edifice, i do indeed feel that this new proposed render / concept is tops!  i love the totally modern / cool / flowing design.  IWA students shall really enjoy this modernistic approach to their downtown campus.  not to mention, this new addition, shall bring a bit of teenage fun to this particular area of downtown....

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I saw them doing some soil testing in the adjacent parking lot a couple of days last week. Maybe they will be starting on the parking garage soon also.

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I'm really amazed at how poorly this played out. Very disappointed.

1,000 hell mary's

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At the very least they should leave the façade and build the new building behind it.  That's fairly common in Europe, to keep the historical feel while still being modern.

my favorite example of this is Norman Fosters Hearst Tower in NYC. its a damn shame they couldn't of done this here but if you look at the picture in the original post, there are many crooked/misconfigured portions of the facade.

780_818-9407-downloadansichten-Hearst_To

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Taking down the roof. They put up scaffolding and then a screen around the building. They were hauling away interior debris last week and then started on the roof.

post-13560-0-85156500-1427738582_thumb.j

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You need to visit any of the NYC threads on SSP to find more incredible. There are at least half a dozen supertalls going up - the tallest being the Nordstrom Tower, which is a foot shorter than 1WTC. The skyline looks nothing like what we remember back in 2001. (Shamelessly swiped from SSP. By Bibek Singh's Photography)

16230498573_0464239f98_h.jpg

 

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Here's the right thread....

 

 

Wow, didn't realize how many buildings they have torn down at this block since the 70s.

post-194-0-09087600-1400690047.jpg

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Haha, hilarious going from that NYC pic of a massive metropolis and an unbelievable cluster of buildings to the next page with the sea of parking lots that was (still is, although less so) Houston. 

 

We've made great progress, but still have a long way to go. 

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It would be neat to replicate that camera angle now and have the two pictures side by side

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Are we to understand all of those blocks used to have New Orleans style buildings on them, ala Market Square? Or were they warehouses?

Based off aerials from the past, a combination of smaller warehouses and 1-2 story buildings. I'd assume it looks pretty similar to the way Wayside @ Navigation looks now. 

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While I have no evidence to back it up, my assumption is that this area was never really densely populated prior to that infamous photo and probably contained some private residences and mostly undeveloped land. Had this photo shown a bunch of grassy fields it would have been less jolting. It was the decision to just pave it all that is the disturbing part. But I've never seen any evidence demolitions of priceless architecture on a massive scale to get it to this point. Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken. 

 

In regards to the block in question, it does appear there were some previous older structures that were demolished. I would like to try to find a close up picture that shows a close up of the site with all the original buildings.

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Much of the area used to be Quality Hill which was a residential neighborhood. Think houses like the Cohn House and the Foley House which were going to be part of the Nau Center.

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Much of the area used to be Quality Hill which was a residential neighborhood. Think houses like the Cohn House and the Foley House which were going to be part of the Nau Center.

 

To the extent this map from 1873 is a accurate depiction of downtown at the time, you can see the Annunciation Church and the area that is currently Union Station and MMP (click to zoom). Quality Hill would have been slightly North of here. 

 

post-60-0-01070900-1427829120_thumb.jpg

 

In the second image, we can see the modern boundaries of downtown. As you move South from Annunciation into the area that is highlighted in the 1970s photo, you can see it becomes quite a bit more rural, maybe even farmland. Although this is well before everything was paved over, it's unlikely that this became a dense residential neighborhood at any point. 

 

post-60-0-34406600-1427829379_thumb.jpg

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Much of the area used to be Quality Hill which was a residential neighborhood. Think houses like the Cohn House and the Foley House which were going to be part of the Nau Center.

 

 

Quality Hill, usually considered Houston’s first homogenous neighborhood, developed in the Second Ward, near present-day Minute Maid Park. It attracted Houstonians who had acquired wealth in their mercantile and cotton businesses. The largest house in the neighborhood belonged to the William J. Hutchins family. Quality Hill remained a desirable residential enclave until commercial activities began to encroach on the area. The Hutchins remained in their home on Franklin at Caroline until 1914. By 1930, all of the dwellings were gone.

Looks like we are both correct. Initially yes, a lovely neighborhood with many houses, and eventually turned into small offices/businesses, and then subsequently torn down for the grand Houston Center project (which is where the picture comes into play).

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CAuIKdQVEAA4gN6.jpg

 

Please tell me this is some kind of bizarre joke.  The Public Storage analogy is so apt.  This is so ugly and cheap-looking. 

 

 

 

8073425.JPG

 

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Here on the 1891 map you can see more residential density in that area. Plus you can see Block 334 has clearly broken ground  :)

 

post-60-0-96933700-1427838353_thumb.jpg

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I really want to know who made the decision to built downtown roads with 45 degree...

You can thanks the Allen brothers for that, probably, also why there are large ships in the bayou in the photo toxtethogrady posted.

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I really want to know who made the decision to built downtown roads with 45 degree...

 

The alignment is to better catch the prevailing Southeast breeze, or so I read somewhere.

 

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Thanks to all the replies. Far less disturbing than I had originally thought, but yes it would have been nice to just have grass lots instead of parking spaces. All that heat capture, no wonder people didn't want to walk around!

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Please tell me this is some kind of bizarre joke.  The Public Storage analogy is so apt.  This is so ugly and cheap-looking. 

 

 

 

8073425.JPG

 

 

It's actually above my expectations, considering the two buildings on either side. In fact, for architecture that blends in with those two buildings and on the budget of a small school, I would say that this is about the best design I could have possibly expected.

 

That said, it's a tragedy to lose the Clayton building. Made me quite upset to hear about it. I wish they had cried for help years ago and gotten some benefactors from the local philanthropic community. The one solace is that the most important historic building on the block - the church itself - continues to grace the neighborhood.

 

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