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Westbury Square


Aland11223

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1965 was about the first time I burger kinged. But.. It was the one in Overland Park KS..

And I do remember 35 cent whoppers. When I moved here in 69, I transferred my

burger eating duties to the one on Post Oak. I think Whoppers had gone up to about

55 cents by then. Course, that burger king is long gone. I just went to the burger king

on Fondren/Bellfort tonight. But two whoppers ran me about 5 bucks plus... :(

Whataburger has also been around quite a while. I think there is one on telephone rd

or therabouts that has been there quite a long time. It was built before the orange

paint scheme they use now if I remember right. I think it had the weird roof angles,

but was mostly white. But.. I might be confused.. Wouldn't be the first time..

MK

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Whataburger has also been around quite a while. I think there is one on telephone rd

or therabouts that has been there quite a long time. It was built before the orange

paint scheme they use now if I remember right. I think it had the weird roof angles,

but was mostly white. But.. I might be confused.. Wouldn't be the first time..

MK

Where on Telephone approximately? i'm drawing a blank. I just remember the A-frame Whataburgers of which a few still exist.

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I know a thread for Westbury Square was started but I think I might have been a bit late getting to it. In that thread I mentioned yesterday that for the first time I went back there to visit a coffee shop that just started up a couple of months ago. Yesterday was really the very first time I stepped foot back on their turf. It's weird to see it now, when you remember many things about it then. Today it looks almost like a ghost town to see whats left, yet I believe the coffee shop might bring some extra life back into it! If you wish to stop there for a visit, here is a phone # 713-728-JAVA

When I was a child, the year of 1985 Westbury Square had a Halloween costume contest which I won first place as a home made robot. And today I still have the trophy which is what I wanted to share with this forum. Here are two photos of it which I snapped. Yet I wondered if anyone else here has photos from those costume contest or stories about them.

trophy1.jpg

trophy2.jpg

I guess I could put this on ebay, but it's mine and I wish not to sell

I am a long time Houstonian and know for a fact that Westbury was a prime neighborhood to live and attend schools 80's. That was then Now you couldn't pay me to go near it. The media has either overrated the crime or its just plain out of control. I knew a person that worked placing people in housing after Katrina and thats exactly where he was sending them to live. I will leave it at that. Westbury High was a exemplery school once. I have sympathy for any teacher, student or faculty that have to go there. The cancer has already spread. Divine intervention please! or an exorcism?

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The cancer has already spread. Divine intervention please! or an exorcism?

Here in my house in Westbury, it seems the same as it's ever been. No one

messes with me. I'll give them a free ventilation service if they bust through

my door. The neighborhood I'm in is no more dangerous than it was in the

70's-80's.. Looks about the same too..

As another note on Westbury Square.. I was reading a book called "hairy legged men"..

Naw, just kidding, it was called "sharp dressed men".. A storybook about ZZ top and

their adventures or maybe misadventures at times... :/

I noticed that ZZ Top was "legally" born at 602 Westbury Square, on June 20, 1969.

Being it's been so long since I wandered through there, I forgot where "602" was..

Fer some reason, I'm thinking in the offices above the old pizza place, but I'm not

sure..

Course, in 1969, ZZ Top was Dan M Mitchell, Bill Gibbons, and Lanier H. Greig jr.

MK

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Here in my house in Westbury, it seems the same as it's ever been. No one

messes with me. I'll give them a free ventilation service if they bust through

my door. The neighborhood I'm in is no more dangerous than it was in the

70's-80's.. Looks about the same too..

As another note on Westbury Square.. I was reading a book called "hairy legged men"..

Naw, just kidding, it was called "sharp dressed men".. A storybook about ZZ top and

their adventures or maybe misadventures at times... :/

I noticed that ZZ Top was "legally" born at 602 Westbury Square, on June 20, 1969.

Being it's been so long since I wandered through there, I forgot where "602" was..

Fer some reason, I'm thinking in the offices above the old pizza place, but I'm not

sure..

Course, in 1969, ZZ Top was Dan M Mitchell, Bill Gibbons, and Lanier H. Greig jr.

MK

That was hilarious, that ZZ Top notation was good and probably valid in the days when Westbury was still filled with hip rocknrollers. The media sure has it portrayed as gangstas with doo rags, big neck chains, huge oversized (looks like they crapped in thier pants) baggy shorts, exteme tattoes, major extreme body piercings, AK-47's. Basically, if you dont look like an extra from "Cops" you might not fit in. There has to be someone still trying to save the place? You have my sympathy, we have our hip hops to deal with on the east side too. Sometimes I wonder if Houston will ever stop becoming another South Central LA or Oakland. Like the drunkard guy in the old movie "The Bird's" said...It's the end of the world I tell ya!

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I'm new to this site and man does this thread about Westbury Square bring back lots of memories. Especially since I graduated from Westbury HS in 69. I used to hang out a lot at Mr. Fantasy and the Electric Paisley in the 60's and early 70's. Anybody remember the Cheese Man shop? My wife worked there in the 70's -early 80's, as well as Rumpleheimer's in the 60's. (The guy that owned the place was a major assh*le). It was such a great place but the people that owned the square would later sell out to some NYC firm and it went downhill fast. The square started deteriorating rapidly in the 80's and the NYC owners would never even attempt to fix the place up. It's a shame because it was already becoming an historic place.

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  • 1 month later...
I think you mean the nursury and Bar-B-Q that was

on Willowbend just east of the RR tracks. I remember that

Bar B Q place from when we moved here. We went there

a few times, but eventually it burned down. Post Oak Ranch

Bar B Q is still on Post Oak. They have some pretty good

stuff too. PO ranch has been there a long time. Next

time I'm in there, I'll see if anyone knows when if first

opened. I remember the old owner from the 60's-70's,

and then he sold it to a guy named Moses. He was there

probably through the 80's, 90's. I'm not sure, but think Moses

might have recently sold it to someone else, but I'm not sure.

I remember the Willowbend Bar -B Q having loads of

cowboy artifacts hung up in the dining room.. Hummm..

Now that I think about it, I think the Bar B Q land itself

became a nursury.. At the moment, I think it's unused,

but I'd have to double check. I drive by there quite often.

MK

The BBQ place east of the tracks was called Mels, I believe. Burger King has come up quite a bit in this thread. now here is a question. Sometime before or after Burger King was built, the Walgreens building at Willowbend and Post Oak had a very similar resturant next door to it. It was not there that long but did have a sandwich I believe was called a Yumbo with ham in it. I know what the name of this place was. Does anyone else know. I know LunaticFringe knows, so don't answer :unsure:

See you at Rumplheimers...

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The BBQ place east of the tracks was called Mels, I believe. Burger King has come up quite a bit in this thread. now here is a question. Sometime before or after Burger King was built, the Walgreens building at Willowbend and Post Oak had a very similar resturant next door to it. It was not there that long but did have a sandwich I believe was called a Yumbo with ham in it. I know what the name of this place was. Does anyone else know. I know LunaticFringe knows, so don't answer :unsure:

Oh, Oh, I know! :rolleyes:

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Don't remember Yumbo ham-burger, but yea, Mels...Thats the name..Pretty sure.

I also wonder what will ever become of the bowling alley. They have it fenced

up, but it all pretty much looks intact. Been vacant for a long time.. At least

I think it's vacant... I don't know when it was built, but I guess in the late 50's

judging from the way it used to look inside.. It used to have a little restarant

inside at the front.

It seems to be there in the 1960 pix.

MK

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Wonder what became of that cutie on the right?

I think she got married in 1974 and is still married to the same man and still living in Houston. I would venture to speculate that she doesn't look quite the same almost 40 years later, but I don't know her personally so I can't state that as fact

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I think she got married in 1974 and is still married to the same man and still living in Houston. I would venture to speculate that she doesn't look quite the same almost 40 years later, but I don't know her personally so I can't state that as fact

What was/is her last name?

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This has got to be my fav. thead on HAIF!

WOW...I love your stories and trivia. That photo of Westbury in 1960 was great. I can see my house in it. Having been a 10 yr resident of the area and being 28 I can say I love this place for the history that it here. It is just unfortunate that the area gets a bad reputation from the media coverage of the crime in the surrounding areas. The residential sections of the place really are not dangerous. I know most all of the neighbors on my block so we do not have a problem with vagrants having a run of the place. We love our guns as much as Westbury.

Having see that photo makes me want to cry because this place should have been developed to be all residential with very light commercial along the major roads. The development of so many apartments along Gasmer and S. Willow is the cancer on this area. Westbury Square apts. and the townhomes of Arboles are still in great condition and have nice curb appeal. The apts. further south attract the crime and low life thugs that spray paint stuff, litter, steal, and kill. One kid got murdered in a driveby at Westbury High just last year. I wonder what the odds of that school ever being relocated are. It seems as if we bus in trouble from surrounding areas like Fondren and Hilcroft to the heart of Westbury with that school.

Anyway, tell me more about Westbury Centerette. As long as I have been here (since 97) it has been a ghost town with only a laundry joint open in the whole thing. Since the Westbury square is only a 2 minute drive from my house I will go there this week and snap a ton of pics to post online. They just tore down the building that was across the street from the Home Depot sign on the south lanes of W. Belfort. Who knows what they will do to the Square? I'd better get photos while I can. Besides, people who have moved away from Houston and want to see what it looks like now can view them.

BTW, for those away from town, did you know Harris county is putting in a major water detention/wetlands area right next to Westbury?

Since the crime problem occured the stigma of the area has made it unattractive to developers so the county has bought up tons of land and is now constructing this thing. Read up about it. The second link shows a map of what it will look like when it is done after a few more years.

http://www.wwgc.org/

http://www.projectbrays.org/maps/willowwaterhole.html

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Quote:

Anyway, tell me more about Westbury Centerette. As long as I have been here (since 97) it has been a ghost town with only a laundry joint open in the whole thing.

If the westbury centerette is the shopping plaza just east and north of belfort and chimney rock, I remember it as the oldest shopping center in Westbury, open when we moved to arboles in about 1958. On the side facing away from bellfort it had a series of trampolines at ground level over pits, and I always wanted to go there and jump. I think this place was the first commercial strip to go downhill. It had in the early days a drug store, possibly a u-tote-um, and I think a cleaners. It seemed to be having a hard time as early as the late 1960s.

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Quote:

I think this place was the first commercial strip to go downhill. It had in the early days a drug store, possibly a u-tote-um, and I think a cleaners. It seemed to be having a hard time as early as the late 1960s.

I know it had a drug store, because my friend and I would ride our bikes there to get sodas - that was around 1960-61. It might have been a Dugan's.

Trampoline centers were really popular in the summer of 1960. There was one on Beechnut close to Post Oak - across from Meyerland. I believe that the one in Westbury might have closed by the time I moved there in the fall of 1960.

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I know it had a drug store, because my friend and I would ride our bikes there to get sodas - that was around 1960-61. It might have been a Dugan's.

in the arial picture, i can see my house, and was probably sitting in it that day, seven years old..wow..

The corner with the cyan blue tiles was the drug store. i peeked through that window when I visited Houston in 05, and oddly enough, it seemed exactly as it had been, with the soda fountain bar still in there, along one wall..that particular room was never occupied again...we used to ride our bikes, (Schwinn stingrays, banana seats..)and get a cherry coke.

There was a coin operated laundromat, open all night. Around the other side, facing Bellfort, was an Enco station (Exxon in the old days) and yup, a Utotem..There may have been a conventional laundry on that side..Later the first Jack in the box was put in, right next door, 26 cents for a jumbo Jack and drinks for 10, 15, and 25 cents.. "drive through" was a big new thing..

From 1957-1960, though, those open fields were everywhere, tree forts, houses under construction to play in, (once the workers went home...)

[i was there on Arboles 15 years, 1957-1972] Bellfort did not even go through to Fondren road; Fondren was still a dirt road with farmland on either side, with NO apartments, and the apartments next to Westbury High on Gasmer had not been constructed yet.

It was a great place to grow up in the sixties..you could WALK to the firework stand at Christmas and at July 4th..It was out on Main. You'd take West Airport at Hillcroft to what I now realize must have been Fondren, but it was not normally paved, nor were there residences. Airport was deserted shell road, once you went past Hillcroft.

There were the ruins of an old burned restaurant out there, where you turned south, to go to Main street..It was deserted and creepy, which made it perfect to play in. The ruins of the monorail were on the way to the firework stand, too, so we'd play on that..In those days no one cared if you shot firecrackers and bottle rockets and so on, so we'd have big fun, holing up in Christmas tree forts, between the houses on Arboles and Belrose and McKnight and so on... Never a fire. Water balloon battles too, in the summertime.

Many of the houses did not have fences in the very early days, so when I was five, six, seven, you could just walk or run from Arboles all the way across Warm Springs and McKnight to W. Bellfort, going through certain back yards that were still open..later we just climbed the fences..

It is all so vivid in my mind. When I win the lottery, I shall buy Westbury square , including the $%!! Home Depot, and restore it to Glory..those IDIOTS..

(Continues his diary:"Ran out of pop tarts today. Still no word from Publisher's Clearinghouse..")

regards

stu

former westbury resident

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I lived on Cedarhurst, which is the street that ran beside the Centerette. I went to that Utotem,Jack-In-The-Box and drug store all of the time. Many a Cherry or Vanilla Coke were consumed there and lots of Baseball cards were bought at the Utotem. I miss the Bonus Jacks. For some reason I am am always getting the names of THAT drug store and the one near the Beldens Food Giant (near A.J.Foyt Cheverolet) at W. Bellfort and Post Oak confused. One was Cunningham and the other??? :unsure:

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I lived on Cedarhurst, which is the street that ran beside the Centerette. I went to that Utotem,Jack-In-The-Box and drug store all of the time. Many a Cherry or Vanilla Coke were consumed there and lots of Baseball cards were bought at the Utotem. I miss the Bonus Jacks. For some reason I am am always getting the names of THAT drug store and the one near the Beldens Food Giant (near A.J.Foyt Cheverolet) at W. Bellfort and Post Oak confused. One was Cunningham and the other??? :unsure:

I knew a few people that lived on Cedarhurst. I think Cunningham was probably the one at W. Bellfort and

Post Oak. I can't remember what name the one in the centerette had, but I remember it being open when

I moved here in 69. Dugans was the one next to Weingartens.

In it's prime, the Bellfort side of the centerette was pretty full. You had U-totem, a barber shop, a womens hair

salon, a Baskin Robbins , a cleaners, and Toby's adult beverage store. *hic* The enco/exxon.. I wish I could

buy gas for that price now.. Also...There was once a Conaco station about where the Pizza place is now..

I almost forgot about that place... But I used to go there when I first started driving. It sticks out, cuz they

used to sell 5 grades of gas back then. Course, I used premium, as I drove a 65 impala with a 396... :/

At one time, I guy I knew had a A/C and heat office in one of those back in the 80's. They sold stuff like solar water

heaters, etc.. Scarfed many a burger/taco/whatever at Jack in the Crack.. We used to hang out there late

at night in the summer back in the 70's... Used to have the front sliding window you could order if on foot..

The "Weingartens" center has been there a while too. When I moved here, it was Weingartens, a Dugans drug,

Brittains broiler burger, a shoe shop, the barber shop, a TG&Y. A firestone. Maybe more, but I ferget...

Of course, back then the bank was Westbury Square National Bank. Of all those the barber shop still lives

in basically the same location and even chair config... :/ Not sure about the shoe shop.. I knew the owners

of that, and I know he also has one on S Post Oak, but not sure if he still owns the one on Bellfort or not.

If so, it's pretty much the same too I'm sure.

MK

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I had forgotten about the Baskin Robbins. There was also a Baseball Card shop there later. I drove by there yesterday, and it looks like nothing is in that strip facing W. Bellfort. When you mentioned "Tobys," I remembered it. Another thing I recall about the Jack-In-The-Box, is that the house located across the street from it, had reflective mirrored tint on their windows to cut down on the headlites shining in from the drive thru. The barber shop was owned by a man named Gene Rentz (sp).

I still get my hair cut at the barber shop next door to the shoe/boot shop, which used to be next door to Brittains (miss the coffee ice cream). Where Dugans was, later Eckerds and then CVS, it is now vacant. They must have moved within the last 3 weeks. :)

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I had forgotten about the Baskin Robbins. There was also a Baseball Card shop there later. I drove by there yesterday, and it looks like nothing is in that strip facing W. Bellfort. When you mentioned "Tobys," I remembered it. Another thing I recall about the Jack-In-The-Box, is that the house located across the street from it, had reflective mirrored tint on their windows to cut down on the headlites shining in from the drive thru. The barber shop was owned by a man named Gene Rentz (sp).

Gene Rentz lived across the street from me a couple of houses down. He died in 2004.

I still get my hair cut at the barber shop next door to the shoe/boot shop, which used to be next door to Brittains (miss the coffee ice cream). Where Dugans was, later Eckerds and then CVS, it is now vacant. They must have moved within the last 3 weeks. :)

Yea, CVS pulled out not too long ago. Is the shoe shop still there? I haven't actually looked lately.

It was run by an old guy that was once in a nazi concentration camp. He had the numbers on his

arm to prove it. His son took it over as far as I know. His name is Alex, and is usually over at

the S. Post Oak location by Annies burger joint.

MK

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Yea, CVS pulled out not too long ago. Is the shoe shop still there? I haven't actually looked lately.

It was run by an old guy that was once in a nazi concentration camp. He had the numbers on his

arm to prove it. His son took it over as far as I know. His name is Alex, and is usually over at

the S. Post Oak location by Annies burger joint.

MK

The last time I looked, it was there. I will be getting a haircut next week, so I will see. When I asked about the barber shop last year, someone told me that the original owners do not own the shoe shop anymore. I will inquire. :)

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Excellent photos and information as always!

My sister worked in the CVS for about 7 years as a high school and college student. Well, it was Eckerds when she started. Anyway, the store was really from a different time right up until CVS took it over. The Canadians gutted the place and brought in modern equipment and fixtures. The store closed in the 4th quarter of 06. She quit her job after she finished school in June of 06 and the store was open for a little while after that. From what she told me they had customers who had been going there since the mid 1960s and they were very sad to see the place go.

I think that whole center has gotten worse since the only 99 cent store opened up. I used to know the guy that owned the independent smaller 99 cent store in that same mall. He went out of business a few months after the big one opened a few years ago. Meyerland Auto also packed up and left but a new car repair joint has opened up and they are doing well. I wish HEB was still there compared to how it is now.

Was that car repair place right next to the Discount Tire always there? What used to be where Discount Tire sits now? That building does not look to be over 20 years old. Also, what was where the Priss Pet Inn is located?

I had no idea the old drug store still has a fountain counter still inside of it. If my camera can see inside I will snap a few pics since I live a 2 minute drive away from the place. The Exxon closed in roughly about 2000-2001 and has been abandoned since. I don't think they even come and cut the weeds much. The strip mall next door had a baseball card shop in it for a few years but has been totally vacant for at least 2 years. What was located where the AutoZone sits?

If anyone has photos of this place in the 50s 60s or 70s PLEASE scan and post them.

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I finally got out there and shot photos today. These are really for the folks that lived in this area decades ago and moved away from Houston or are still in SE Texas but have not returned for a long time. Please do tell any trivia of info you know about stuff in the photos.

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Looking north on Chimney Rock at W. Belfort

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The old Centerette Sign

Is that the one and only sign ever? When did that clock stop working?

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Various shots of the whole side that faces Cedarhurst.

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Was this the Utotem?

I could not see inside with all of the blue contact paper on the glass.

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The laundry joint is still active.

I went in once and I have a feeling the machines date back to the 1960s.

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The Exxon has been in ruins for over 5 years.

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The side facing W. Belfort has been empty for around 2 years.

This is modern day Westbury Square.

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The live stage theater that was opened in 1978 is still well and alive.

I had a chat with a guy that works there while I was taking these photos. He says attendance is pretty good considering they are such a small and independent place. I wanted interior shots but he said he might get in trouble for letting me in. Nice guy though....I think I will go to a show soon.

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A daycare that is located northeast of the corner of the Home Depot.

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Looking down the driveway towards the Home Depot next to the daycare.

Did this always exist or did they build this new in 1995 when Home Depot came in?

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Looking north from that driveway. The parking lot is in ruins with many potholes and broken pavement.

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The W. Belfort side enterance.

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A few shots from the same side.

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Some of the apartments that face W. Belfort are occupied again.

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This fountain is right inside the front entry.

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This photo business looks nice.

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The main walkway that is left in the square.

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This must be one of the plant pots from the postcards.

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Signs; the first is from the city citing a code violation while the other is from some Bellair Social club that used to meet here.

I looked in the windows and saw some old tables and chairs.

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Note all of the dishes; they have a few residents here these days; one of which stole a Home Depot cart (way to go!)

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Various shots of the area just to the left if you walk into the W. Belfort entry.

There look to be more apartments here that are occuiped again.

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A few shots of the lamps on the W. Belfort side.

Are there the ones that have always been here?

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They just demolished the building on the other side of W. Belfort during the last week of March 07. Note the construction equipment.

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This side faces the main W. Belfort entry to Home Depot.

What used to be where the driveway is now located? All of the buildings have stairs that lead down to the driveway.

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The first photo is of the back side of the remaining strip. The last 2 are of the building that houses the live theater.

So from the curvature of the building the center crown jewel of the square sat right where the Home Depot lumber dept down sits?

I was not yet born when the Square had her glory days but this was very depressing. I wish I had gotten a chance to see the place before Home Depot came in.

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So from the curvature of the building the center crown jewel of the square sat right where the Home Depot lumber dept down sits?

I was not yet born when the Square had her glory days but this was very depressing. I wish I had gotten a chance to see the place before Home Depot came in.

That curved building faced a large fountain in the central courtyard of the Westbury Square complex. The building was home to Cargo Houston, one of the Square's main tenants. It was a large store filled with an eclectic assortment of imported home accessories, housewares, gift wrap, scarves, costume jewelry - well-made and well-designed - at reasonable prices. Its owners traveled the world and personally selected the merchandise. They also owned The Candle Shop in Westbury Square where hand-dipped candles were made while you watched; and Faroy, a separate company that produced scented candles, stationery and decorative items. Friends of mine were associated with these businesses and I visited the Square often.

Sadly, since Cargo Houston closed, there hasn't been a store in Houston to compare - it was unique. Cost Plus World Market runs a poor second...

Edited by silverartfox
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LarryD...Concerning your question about that being the Utotem...No, that end of that buidling on Cedarhurst was the Drug Store. The Utotem was on the strip just opposite of that picture facing West Bellfort. It was right behind that Drugstore. If you look at your pic#1052, it was to the left at the very end. Once again, the drug store was on the opposite side of that building. The Jack-In-The-Box was right next to the Utotoem, with a little alley way between...All were very good pics! :D

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I'm gald you like the pics. :D

Hey, and thanks for the info on what was where as well as the info on Cargo Houston. I wonder if any fixtures or even merchendise that was abandoned has been shuttered inside and is waiting for someone to discover it. I did see a "Tuesday Morning" sign in the lower floor of the curved grey building. I wonder who has the keys to the buildings. I'd sign any kind of legal waiver to be able to tour the inside of the buildings just to look around.

What year would you say the square shut down?

I know the hippies used to loiter in the piazza in the early 70s and that is when the downfall started. Did this whole structure sit idle from about 1980-1995 when Home Depot was built?

They were fools to demolish any of it.

BTW, how much of the square is left now?

40%? less?

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I really appreciate the pictures, I have not been in the neighborhood since 1977, really. the last time I was on the "square" was probably about 1975.

Why it started down is a mystery to me, it has all the elements of "new urbansim" (see my comments in the wikopedia discussion of the square). Hippies loitered in the square from about 1967 on, so thats not the reason. But when cargo houston went down, that seemed to be the beggining of the end. The specialty shops lasted till sometime in the 1970s. I heard that some company bought the square a few years after the townhouses were added. They supposedly put in a theater, or were going to put on in. I believe the story was that the company was owned by the chinese import store, which used to face the central fountain, now apparently the home depot lumber place. It seemed retail sails began lagging in the mid 70s, and possibly it was competition with the newly created Galleria?

One problem I think was that there was not enough to do. ie needed more restaraunts with a variety of prices, and more entertainment venues. It seemed the main reason to go to the square was atmosphere and to purchase specialty retail items. I used to make sand candles with scents from the scent shop, and wax supplies from the candle shop. I bought classic San Francisco rock concert posters at Cargo within weeks of famous concerts. A;sp bought blacklight posters at the Electric Paisley, and I became a black light artist myself, painting a number of bedroom murals for friends in Westbury.Also Indian prints beadspreads, paper mache tiffany lamps. What was missing was a book store and a large record shop.

The westbury centerrette (sic) sign may be the oldest surviving thing in westbury. I am sure it is the original and I expect the center predates the square and certainly the weingartens plaza. The trampoline place was the last building on the side facing away from belfort but near chimney rock.

sadly the conoco that was replaced by the now abandoned exxon was a classic modern style station, with a tile mural on front, a streamlined carport, it was one of the best pieces of architecture around, and deserved preservation status.

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I know the hippies used to loiter in the piazza in the early 70s and that is when the downfall started. Did this whole structure sit idle from about 1980-1995 when Home Depot was built?

They were fools to demolish any of it.

BTW, how much of the square is left now?

40%? less?

Sorry for being late in noticing and there are far too many replies to know where we are but this would or could have been a great place for shooting a movie or anything film related.

After viewing the photos it could have been mistaken for Italy or somewhere far away. The area around the fountain is (or was) a great focal point. What a waste. Save if not too late! :o

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I know the hippies used to loiter in the piazza in the early 70s and that is when the downfall started. Did this whole structure sit idle from about 1980-1995 when Home Depot was built?

Shoddy

Edited by LunaticFringe
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I went back out today and shot some pics of the building that housed the Cargo Houston. You can also see the live theater that is still open.

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This is the area that faced the main fountain as seen in the postcards someone else posted. The Tuesday Morning signs are still there. I tried to look inside but the windows had bubbled tint all over them.

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This fountain must have been relocated since it was no where so near to the building in the old photos. Was this the fountain that used to be in the center? Also, was this the tile that has been there from day?

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Yet another sign from the city.

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Excelllent photos. Thanks for sharing. The story behind the old Square and what's happened to it since is an intriguing one, I agree. I have to confess that I am old enough to have gone there in it's heyday, with my parents. It was truly ahead of it's time. I think location, more than anything, was responsible for it having such a short life. Chimney Rock and Bellfort just isn't a very convenient location , lacking freeway access and all. Also, that part of town started to really change about that time, from white suburbia to a mixed urban neighborhood.

Thanks again!

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I am a member of the Westbury Civic Club Board and wanted to provide some facts to help understand why Westbury Square and Centerette are the way they are.

1. Westbury Square

There has been a lot of discussion about what to do with WS since the 1980's but the current ownership does not want to do anything with the property. There are theories as to why they don't want to do anything and you can speculate amongst yourselves. The City of Houston has tried a number of times to take action, but everytime they do the property title is transferred to a new "owner". Its a very messy situation and seems only to get messier. The property is in terrible condition and should be torn down. There are homeless folks living in a number of the closed retail locations. The theatre groups location has water leaks and huge holes in the back walls.

2. Westbury Centerette, Strip Center facing W. Bellfort next to Auto Zone, Exxon Station (abandoned)

The Centerette and Strip Center are owned by a family living in Mexico. There have been attempts to buy the property but as with family ownership there has yet to be complete agreement on a deal by all parties. So they sit and are an eyesore.

The Exxon Station which was closed in the late 1990's is currently abandoned and growing weeds and attracting graffitti. The tanks were removed by Exxon. The owner is Saeed Gaddi and his wife Shazia. Mr. Gaddi is quite active in the Indo-Pakistani community in Houston and owns other commercial property in the area. He even has a radio program. Several people have attempted to negotiate a sale but he is not interested in doing anything with the property. it might be a case where Councilman M.J. Khan (evidently a friend of Mr. Gaddi's) will have to intervene to get an abandoned building (which MJ hates) sold, demolished, or cleaned up.

3. Westbury Triangle Shopping Center w/99 cent only store

Our friends at Weingarten's realty own this shopping center. Evidently they kept ownership of it from the 1960's when a Weingartens was located there. The center is currently over 25% vacant since CVS abandoned the store. The auto repair isn't really welcome by Westbury residents, we've already got enough auto repair eyesores. I've suggested we try and get them to redevelop the center and buy up the Westbury Square land and create a really nice shopping village.

The civic club is very active and is working on a lot of plans. Westbury has a lot of potential and with the changes coming as a result of Willow Waterhole park and a new Master Plan for the community things are very exciting for us.

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Excelllent photos. Thanks for sharing. The story behind the old Square and what's happened to it since is an intriguing one, I agree. I have to confess that I am old enough to have gone there in it's heyday, with my parents. It was truly ahead of it's time. I think location, more than anything, was responsible for it having such a short life. Chimney Rock and Bellfort just isn't a very convenient location , lacking freeway access and all. Also, that part of town started to really change about that time, from white suburbia to a mixed urban neighborhood.

Thanks again!

What really kicked off the decline of Westbury Square was the Gallaria.

When it first opened, it was quite a big deal with all the shops, and skating

rink, etc.

So it drew away quite a bit of people that would have gone to Westbury Square.

Also, Westbury Squares shops were more into the sort of offbeat stuff, with some

exceptions, where as the Gallaria had a lot of big names, and other smaller

shops. Probably more variety in the overall scheme of things.

BTW, the building formally known as Exxon is not the same as the Conaco.

The Conaco was more on Chimney Rock. I've been trying to decide exactly where

it was.. I was thinking pretty close to the corner, near the pizza place, but

after thinking about it, it's quite possible it was in the building that now houses

one of the car repair places.. It's fenced in now, and has junk cars laying around.

I think that might have been the old Conaco, but I'm still not totally sure as

it's been so long. In fact... It's possible the car repair joint was once a different

station, and the Conoco was closer to the corner at W. Bellfort, but I may be

way off on that... But I used to buy gas at that Conaco when I first

started driving, so I know it was more on Chimney Rock, than Bellfort

as far as it's likely address. For some reason I keep thinking the Conoco

was near the corner, and you could get to it from either Bellfort by making

the curved turn, or Chimney Rock, which would put it about where the Pizza place

is.

But if not, it was where the car repair place is..

The car repair place at Chimney Rock and Burdine was once a Gulf station,

with a 7-11 next door. A red brick Texaco was across the street where the present

newer store/gas station is.

For some reason, I'm thinking the discount tire might have been a gas station

also at some point, but time is killing my memory... I should know what it was

before, but danged if I can remember... It's just not something I've thought

about through the years to keep in my brain... :/ It may have been a different

company auto repair, or tire shop. I don't think firestone though, as firestone

was in the weingartens center. The auto repair place in that center was the old

firestone. I remember I bought my first portable shortwave radio there. "Philco".

That was about 1971.. Actually, that repair place doesn't look too bad. It's enclosed,

and no junk cars laying around. It's the places that have the fenced areas, "both

on Chimney Rock", that look the worst. They have lots of junk, cars, etc laying around...

The one north of W. Bellfort being the worst usually. Wrecked cars, boats, junk, etc..

I've never really minded the place at the weingartens center.. It's never had that

problem. Once they close their doors, there is not much to see really..

MK

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I have now heard 5 versions of what happened to the square.

1. Neighborhood went down the tubes when they started building apts, such as those next to the high school. nobody wanted to go to westbury anymore

2. Hippies loitering in the square caused the decline

3.Too far away from a freeway

4. Competition with Galleria and other malls

5. Abscentee landlords, dont care about neighborhood

lets look at these one by one

1. Crime and low income residents-affects image, may decrease the numbers who will drive to Westbury a bit as well as contribute to property value declines, and an influx of poorer, not likely to shop at the square residents. Did this happen? When my parents sold their house in 1977 it had not happened yet, but the decline at the square was already evident, but slight. Business owners complaining about square mangement is what I remember

2. Hippies loitering? That was part of the ambience of the square. ZZ top premiered there. Electric Paisly was on the evening news for being the first head shop in houston. Mr Fantasy, Cargo Houston. I think they were part of the square at its heyday, rather than the decline.

3. Too far from major transportation artery? Perhaps, but when the square opened it was successful and there was no 610 loop yet, no s post oak ramp, etc. and the city was a fraction of the size that it is today. However if other shopping centers were successful and near a freeway....

4. Competition from Galleria- I believe this is part of it, because it was already happing in 1970. If you wanted large numbers of people and chain stores, go to galleria. If you wanted to see neighborhood people and specialty shops, go to the square.

5. Abscentee slumlords- and weak neighborhood ordinances (covenents)?I think this is the biggest part of it. The land owners of the most important neighborhood centers did not care, do not care. land is an investment, not for the rent but for the speculative value in future real estate markets. But the neighborhood centers are a critical part of the perception: the square if it was in its heyday today would be a model for other new urbanist designs-

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

I would suggest several things. First, historic status. The 60s were 50 years ago, nearly. Historic preservation status with the state and with the national register, would help. A press campaign against blighted neighborhoods and slumlords would help. Where is Marvin Zindlers exposee of the decline of westbury square?

Westbury has the reminent buildings of the square, the earliest manifestation of new urbanism. Successful until management began driving creative retail out.

The square created a main street in an auto oriented suburb

Houstons contribution to modern architecture should be noted. There has been some discussion on this site about it, but I dont see anything happening in west bury. The centerette sign is a gem from the past. So it the square. Are there more buildings worth noting?

As energy costs escalate houston will boom (only booming housing market in the nation right now) and Westbury should be ripe for a revival if the conditions are ripe. Having shopping centers that send the opposite message does not do this.

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I don't think anyone will ever be able to put a finger on the exact cause of the decline of Westbury Square. Houston has gone through so many manifestations of trying to create itself, WS just happens to be a victim of that whole process.

Now what can be done to fix the issue, especially in Westbury (the same ideas could apply to Sharpstown, Greenspoint and other areas).

1. Develop a Master Plan for the community--we are doing this to tie in the Willow Waterhole area and the Ft. Bend Toll Road to growth.

2. Develop a set of deed restrictions and mandatory compliance--we've developed the new deed restrictions. The problem there is that residents in Houston are scared to death of overzealous civic associations taking their homes from them. Remember the woman in Champions area who lost her home due to a clerical problem with the payment of dues. And then the woman in Katy who had to pay lots of money to defend her right to landscape her home? That scares the crap out of current residents. We've noted that the new folks moving in have no problem being mandated into compliance and paying dues. Only time will tell as we fight this fight.

3. Force local landlords to clean up property--The landlords are favored in a lot of cases in the courts so the City is really requiring strong cases. Take the case of the condos at W. Airport and Fondren. They have been condemned and burned and gutted. The City thought it had the courts ok to demolish as a neighborhood hazard. Guess what the landlord went to court again and got the whole thing quashed again. The laws should favor the residents of an area, not the business people.

4. Force absentee landlords to clean up property--Identify slum landlords for who they are and let the county and city do their thing to them. Limited court involvement. And when a slumlord is convicted of a crime, don't let them sell the land to a friend to protect it until they get out of jail. Make it go onto the open market and sell via the courts or a court mediator.

5. Run Metrorail down W. Bellfort and Hillcroft--Both of these tie into transit centers. W. Bellfort could tie into W. Bellfort/59 and Metrorail on Fannin. Hillcroft could tie into Missouri Park and Ride and Hillcroft P&R which will then have University line to go to Main. Guess what......there is a lot of folks in favor of this....but the NIMBYISTS in the area (sparked by Afton Oaks/Richmond Ave) folks have convinced folks in Houston that fixing transportation for the entire city can be stopped by 100 home owners and a few scared business owners. Oh yeah, if you run light rail down a major street folks will loose their mind and forget how to look out for the train too.....a la Main St. If you have mass transit that is easy and CLEAN (no diesel busses) you could reinvigorate areas like Westbury Square.

6. Give folks a destination--Cargo Houston keeps surfacing as a big draw of Westbury Square back in the day. Let's create a shopping village with some destination stores.

7. Pass zoning for Houston in some form--No further comment needed on that.

At some point folks are going to have to wake up and fix one major area of town as a livable area and then branch out. The Woodlands is a great concept, perhaps we need something a little like that close to the loop.

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At some point folks are going to have to wake up and fix one major area of town as a livable area and then branch out. The Woodlands is a great concept, perhaps we need something a little like that close to the loop.

This argument is pretty confounding to me. If people want to live in the Woodlands they can move there or the many, many other areas around town that have more or less attempted to replicate its "vision" of suburbia.

What you are talking about has nothing to do with fixing an area, it sounds like you want to make fundamental changes more in line of levelling and starting over. To me at least, that isn't what I think of as "fixing" an area - that is just tearing things down and building something new. Believe it or not Westbury is appealing to many young couples (like myself who just bought our first home there recently) because it IS Westbury and it is specifically NOT the Woodlands.

Edited by apower
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Now what can be done to fix the issue, especially in Westbury (the same ideas could apply to Sharpstown, Greenspoint and other areas).

2. Develop a set of deed restrictions and mandatory compliance--we've developed the new deed restrictions. The problem there is that residents in Houston are scared to death of overzealous civic associations taking their homes from them. Remember the woman in Champions area who lost her home due to a clerical problem with the payment of dues. And then the woman in Katy who had to pay lots of money to defend her right to landscape her home? That scares the crap out of current residents. We've noted that the new folks moving in have no problem being mandated into compliance and paying dues. Only time will tell as we fight this fight.

good luck on this one. i know two neighborhoods who recently attempted to rewrite deed restrictions and call for mandatory dues. getting new deed restrictions is hard enough with all the signatures, paperwork filing, convincing them that deed restrictions are good, etc. then on top of that you want residents to pay when many have lived there quite a while with only voluntary dues. if the neighborhood is small, maybe you can be successful. otherwise making fees mandatory will result in those fears of oversealous civic associations you mentioned. both neighborhoods i mentioned ended up dropping the mandatory dues because it was just too unpopular.

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Note to apower.

I've lived in Houston all of my life (grew up in Sharpstown) and lived in Westbury since 1994. We have no inclination to recreate or model after the Woodlands. I used the Woodlands as an example where you have shopping, entertainment, employment, and strong sense of community that could be used to help plan how we want Westbury to evolve. No one wants that specific type of environment, if I wanted sterility and what color my flowers can be I would have chosen to live there. What we do want is to create a liveable village out of Westbury. Westbury Square is physically not sound to fix up from a fiscally responsible standpoint. However something similar could be built afresh with some planning, which we are doing. There are lots of opportunities to get things right as we update the area and get rid of some undesirable things that are plaguing the area. If you're really interested in having a part of seeing Westbury grow and flourish I invite you to get involved. I'm new to the Civic Club board and we've got some vacancies for people who really want to help. Send me an e-mail and I will help you get involved.

Note to musicman.

You are 100% right. Mandatory dues are hard as heck. Getting new deed restrictions passed is even harder. Westbury has over 5000 residences and a number of different versions of deed restrictions. When the area was built in sections back in the late 50's and early 60's each section or builder wrote their own deed restrictions. It's a mess as you can imagine. The other strain is getting folks to sign and then notarizing them. We're trying, but it's not an easy task. I don't people realize how important strong deed restrictions are and how important mandatory dues are to keeping an area growing. The biggest argument we have right now against mandatory for everyone is the original owners who have never paid and now can't afford to pay. Plus how do you handle rental property. It's an adventure as you can image. Thanks for any input you can give.

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Note to musicman.

The biggest argument we have right now against mandatory for everyone is the original owners who have never paid and now can't afford to pay. Plus how do you handle rental property. It's an adventure as you can image. Thanks for any input you can give.

when we updated ours, the board decided to be more realistic and only address deed restrictions. "all" you had to do was convince the residents how restrictions would help maintain the characters of the neighborhood. no businesses, no condos, wider side setbacks (we went from 5 to 10 ft.). of course it was a big "all" but it didn't cost the residents a cent. As you know for yrly dues, the percentage of residents who pay vs. total households is probably not a large number in a hood the size of westbury. realistically making it mandatory won't be possible in an old neighborhood. as for rental properties. you have to contact the owner and mail them the info. I ended up doing quite a few of those for people on my street.

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Thanks very much for the current scoop on the owners, and why things are held up. Fascinating. Thanks too for all the excellent pictures. It is good that what is left is being documented.

For reference, what is left of the fountain in the pictures is in the original location, and the tile you refer to was put in when the curved building was put in. In the beginning there were a series of outdoor booths there, around that side of the fountain, and when they would have their seasonal sales, the merchants would go out there, around that side of the fountain, sort of like a flea market..the whole space was a vacant field, behind that, out to Chimney Rock, for many years, before the apartments were built..

The news about the Willow Waterhole park going in so close is very exciting. i only hope something goes into that space where the Square once stood that will evoke that spirit somehow. It's not likely, but it would sure establish Westbury's sense of history in a way that no other changes could do.. I only hope it remains Westbury square somehow... if not, the Historical continuity of the area is irreparably damaged..

Thanks again everyone..

stu

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If the owners of the Centerette are in Mexico and refuse to clean up or sell the property why does the city not sieze it and sell it at auction because of the numerous code violations of things like junk cars littering the lot, junk school bus parking, no kind of control of who squats in the property, etc?

I think the side that faces Cedarhurst can be home to some sort of business. No one would have figured a Discount Tire on that street would pop up and do so well. A doughnut shop or a pub where people in the area can come and socialize would be the best thing for that area. I do not mean like a night club that attracts crime but more like a place where regulars go to hang out for a few hours. The Exxon should just be demolished since traffic on Bellfort moves so fast no one would stop to fuel up there. That corner is best suited for a business that serves this community like a dry cleaners for example. The shops next to the AutoZone have the same problem of traffic moving by too fast. Maybe they should just demolish the everything but the Centerette sign and put an Applebees in there. I dunno.

Westbury Square should be saved from demolition just because it is so unique and historic. I think the best idea with that is to do what they did to the Jefferson Davis Hospital near downtown. That place was in ruins for decades and they recently renovated it to house artists at a reasonable rent. We should do the same. If not artists then senior citizens or something. They could make use of the vast parking lot in the western end and construct more buildings that are much like the ones that once existed. Leave a few spaces open for light retail in the future if needed. Just do that and have some tax exempt entity be in charge of the whole thing so it does not end up a slum as do many properties run by for profit groups that just care about a buck.

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If the owners of the Centerette are in Mexico and refuse to clean up or sell the property why does the city not sieze it and sell it at auction because of the numerous code violations of things like junk cars littering the lot, junk school bus parking, no kind of control of who squats in the property, etc?

this is a BIG paroblem all over town. the neighborhood protection group just isn't enforcing city ordinances concerning junk cars and heavy trash.

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