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I would LOVE to see the article!

Okay, I know it took me forever! Here's the ariticle. This is from the June 1975 issue of the Houston Home & Garden magazine, costing $1.25. Hope you like it. It's a really nice feeling to know that I lived in this home and it served an important part of Montose Houston history. First house in Montrose is what it sounds like to me!

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Edited by enviromain
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There was a One's a Meal there. I have a photo of the paint peeling off the sign for the Chinese restaurant that replaced it at that location, and "One's a Meal" is visible underneath. Bailey phot

The original escalators were still in place until about 10 years ago. They were brass, and had some very nice Streamline/Moderne details. The only escalators in Houston which rivaled them in beauty (

not sure i've ever seen walmart and artdeco in the same sentence.

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  • 2 months later...

It sure would've been a source of pride for some of us to have had both Sears restored and standing; one from the 20s and one from the 30s, thanks to mother nature's flood, with both showing classic designs from each of these architectural sub-eras, which now are both lumped into the "art deco" classification by many.

Should we start an online petition to have the cladding removed and the building restored? Long shot maybe but, if successful, would draw enough attention to the beauty of the original building to possibly stave off a wrecking ball death sentence as was imposed on her late, older sister.

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When you see the photos together, you can't help but ask "What were they thinking?" Whoever thought the cladding was an improvement? :wacko: I would like to think that the original facade is still in good shape, since it has been protected from the elements.

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i have some trepidation about what it's like underneath now, though..._________

i stuck these two together, just to see:

searschange.jpg

I have some trepidation that your trepidation could be valid.

Comparing the two pics, it first looks like they removed part of the building when they remodeled. Not only because the drop in the roofline but, if you measure the height of those two front windows facing into the intersection, the height of the facade in the first pic is about 5X the height of those windows wheras in the 2nd pic it's only about 4X as high. Plus, one of the protruding, vertical sections with the 3 long windows is still evident beneath the cladding in the 2nd pic but the others appear to have been removed. Doesn't make sense though; why would they go through such trouble to remove part of a building and make it smaller, unless the building had structural problems? But it's hard to tell on the computer and also the right rear section in the 2nd pic looks higher than the original, so maybe they added height instead.

And, as Subdude says, what the heck were they thinking? I vaguely remember the time when the "art deco" style appeared simply old fashioned and not beautiful but there appears to be nothing attractive about the redo in this case, almost like it was done purely out of necessity.

This gives me a good reason to hit the microfiches in the library once it reopens to see what writeups in the Post or Chronicle at the time might reveal. Anyone know the rough date of the remuddle?

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The shots were taken from different angles. The "before" picture is from the northwest, looking south down Main. The "after" photo was taken from the southwest, looking north.

I'm guessing that the remodeling took place in the early 1960s, which was a high point for destroying old architecture in the name of "modernization".

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I would like to think that the original facade is still in good shape, since it has been protected from the elements.

i wonder if how the cladding was attached would be a problem - was it bolted on the old facade? would there be damage if taken off?

The shots were taken from different angles. The "before" picture is from the northwest, looking south down Main. The "after" photo was taken from the southwest, looking north.

good call on the angles - in the before picture on the far left, i can see the edge of the sears letters that must have matched on each side

_______

okay, now that i keep looking at it, there seems to be a flag and pole on the left side of each picture - at least that is what i think it may be

i wonder if there were flags on the other side, too, because they seem to match up pretty well in those two pictures...

Edited by sevfiv
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Went to that store today. It was really busy. The interior seems a bit dirty, but it still radiates a simple deco elegance in the stairwell. I also really liked the curved detail at the top of the columns; reminds me a bit of the columns in the Montrose Sears, but more refined. I suspect that the original terrazzo remains under all of that crummy looking linoleum and worn carpet. You can see pieces of it sticking out around the entrance on the east side. The interior and lighting would definitely benefit from a restoration of the windows and facade. It feels a bit "closed in" right now; all three floors feel like they are underground.

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I was here today buying a saw and had my camera. The building is tricky with the similar facades on the various corners. This view confirms that the original structure is still behind there. I walked around the building and the marble (granite?) is still in decent condition except for a few gouges.

The interior, as previously mentioned, was extensively remodeled and the only obvious traces of originality are the staircases and railings and I suppose the terrazoesque flooring near the entrances. The men's bathroom has some old sinks, which look to be late 50s/early 60s and probably date from the initial remodel.

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The original escalators were still in place until about 10 years ago. They were brass, and had some very nice Streamline/Moderne details. The only escalators in Houston which rivaled them in beauty (that I've seen) were in the old Music Hall, which was built at approximately the same time as Sears.

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Weren't the ones at Sears the first escalators in Houston?

I think you're correct. I remember the novelty of the new escalators at Sears, when I was a little kid. I would ride it continuously, like an amusement park ride, whenever my mom took me with her to shop there. I also remember the warning posted where you got on. No tennis shoes (or whatever they were called then) allowed. I guess on the chance that the long shoe strings might get caught between the steps. My mom would not let me wear my Keds (the only brand then) whenever we went there.

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I think you're correct. I remember the novelty of the new escalators at Sears, when I was a little kid. I would ride it continuously, like an amusement park ride, whenever my mom took me with her to shop there. I also remember the warning posted where you got on. No tennis shoes (or whatever they were called then) allowed. I guess on the chance that the long shoe strings might get caught between the steps. My mom would not let me wear my Keds (the only brand then) whenever we went there.

This is great that someone started this thread. I can relate totally. There are too many responses to respond to so hopefully I am not being redundant. Did anyone mention or ask what was the name of the theater across from Main street from this Sear's? I know it was torn down several years ago but what was the name??? My mom says she saw "Gone With The Wind" there so thats what stands out. I assume Drive-In movies put them out of business.

I recall going to that Sears (Main) since I was a kid. I am sure that everyone remembers the nice smell of popcorn as you entered. Always fresh too because of the steady crowds. They must have had a deal with the makers of Winnie The Pooh because there was always the stuffed animals above the clothe racks with lots of Winnie-related shirts, sweaters, etc. The one thing that always stood out for me was the restaurant area. Man, I loved the hamburgers, fries everything! Plenty of booths and stools to sit on with a huge counter, the waitress's even wore uniforms complete with hats or hairnets. Sadly, the Main st has sealed or boarded up the old eatery, pathetic. The only Sears I know of that still exists is on North Shepard and it still appears as it did when it opened, maybe? Anyway if you glance at it it does look like your in the 60's. I think that cool old theater still stands next door giving it more of that old time feeling.

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This is great that someone started this thread. I can relate totally. There are too many responses to respond to so hopefully I am not being redundant. Did anyone mention or ask what was the name of the theater across from Main street from this Sear's? I know it was torn down several years ago but what was the name??? My mom says she saw "Gone With The Wind" there so thats what stands out. I assume Drive-In movies put them out of business.

that was the delman theater - the bob bailey collection has a few neat pictures:

http://www.cah.utexas.edu/db/dmr/dmr_resul...p;Submit=Submit

it was demolished in June of 2002

Edited by sevfiv
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The only Sears I know of that still exists is on North Shepard and it still appears as it did when it opened, maybe? Anyway if you glance at it it does look like your in the 60's. I think that cool old theater still stands next door giving it more of that old time feeling.

Was that the Garden Oaks theater? Last I checked the theater was being used by an evangelistic church.

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Was that the Garden Oaks theater? Last I checked the theater was being used by an evangelistic church.

yeah - the sears is located at 4000 n shepherd, and garden oaks theater (church) was (is) at 3750

last time i drove by the light wasn't good, but it looked very toned down - the marquee is still there, though

Edited by sevfiv
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yeah - the sears is located at 4000 n shepherd, and garden oaks theater (church) was (is) at 3750

last time i drove by the light wasn't good, but it looked very toned down - the marquee is still there, though

The marquee is still fundamentally intact, but the lettering that spelled out "GARDEN OAKS" as well as the neon was stripped off after the Net church took over. There are some interesting comments at the Cinema Treasures site from someone apparently affiliated with the church indicating that they were in the process of restoring the theater as recently as last year, but I have to admit I'm a bit skeptical given what was done to the marquee. Still, it's good that the theater hasn't been demolished completely the way so many other formerly nice neighborhood theaters in Houston have been.

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The marquee is still fundamentally intact, but the lettering that spelled out "GARDEN OAKS" as well as the neon was stripped off after the Net church took over. There are some interesting comments at the Cinema Treasures site from someone apparently affiliated with the church indicating that they were in the process of restoring the theater as recently as last year, but I have to admit I'm a bit skeptical given what was done to the marquee. Still, it's good that the theater hasn't been demolished completely the way so many other formerly nice neighborhood theaters in Houston have been.

I lived in Garden Oaks from '93 until '04. The original sign with the Garden Oaks lettering was donated to Garden Oaks (residential association?) when it was taken down.

...and to get back on topic - I would love to see the Sears on South Main restored to it's original luster. ...bu I'm not holding my breath.

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I lived in Garden Oaks from '93 until '04. The original sign with the Garden Oaks lettering was donated to Garden Oaks (residential association?) when it was taken down.

...and to get back on topic - I would love to see the Sears on South Main restored to it's original luster. ...bu I'm not holding my breath.

any idea what became of the sign after the donation?

_____________

i recently emailed Sears about the store on main st. we'll see what they say (if anything)

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well, got a response:

Thank you for contacting Sears Holdings Corporation. At this time, we

do not have any information regarding the rennovation of the Sears store

located on Main Street in Houston, Texas.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We value you as a Sears

Holdings Corporation customer, and we truly intend to provide you with

the best possible customer service.

Sincerely,

National Customer Relations

Sears Holdings Corporation

:mellow:

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well, got a response:

Thank you for contacting Sears Holdings Corporation. At this time, we

do not have any information regarding the rennovation of the Sears store

located on Main Street in Houston, Texas.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We value you as a Sears

Holdings Corporation customer, and we truly intend to provide you with

the best possible customer service.

Sincerely,

National Customer Relations

Sears Holdings Corporation

:mellow:

Gee, quite the enthusiastic, informative response. I was actually searching on the Sears website last night for info as to how to contact them for the same reason but got sidetracked.

I doubt anyone in the corporate offices has a clue about that building's history at this point. Will have to come up with a Plan B.

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I doubt anyone in the corporate offices has a clue about that building's history at this point. Will have to come up with a Plan B.

Plan B: Screw corporate. Call the store manager. If he/she doesn't have personal insight to the building's history, I'll bet that they'll know an employee or former employee or someone that knows someone that does.

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Plan B: Screw corporate. Call the store manager. If he/she doesn't have personal insight to the building's history, I'll bet that they'll know an employee or former employee or someone that knows someone that does.

Or, we could bypass Plan B completely and go for Plan C; print up some big, full-color posters of what the building once looked like and then pay some trustworthy homeless people (plenty of them call Sears home), and have them prance around and pass out HAIF literature on the subject, or just a printout of this topic. We can call Houston Press to cover the event. :)

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Or, we could bypass Plan B completely and go for Plan C; print up some big, full-color posters of what the building once looked like and then pay some trustworthy homeless people (plenty of them call Sears home), and have them prance around and pass out HAIF literature on the subject, or just a printout of this topic. We can call Houston Press to cover the event. :)

How about we start with Plan B to try and research the matter further so that the propaganda released to Houston Press is more full-bodied and, if possible, contentious. They will provide more coverage if we can make Sears look like a corporate boogeyman.

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How about we start with Plan B to try and research the matter further so that the propaganda released to Houston Press is more full-bodied and, if possible, contentious. They will provide more coverage if we can make Sears look like a corporate boogeyman.

Ah Niche, you're such a killjoy!

The problem is that it's not really a bad guy/good guy issue and trying to stretch it into one wouldn't be right and would possibly backfire anyway so maybe Houston Press won't have anything along their lines to report. Maybe just a simple news station would cover it. I know a news producer in my nabe who works for one of the Spanish stations. Wouldn't the motive be just to get Sears to respond to what is underneath the ugliness and spread public awareness ,not only about that specific building, but about historic architecture in general? It's not like they teach that stuff in middle school. If they did, we probably wouldn't be destroying so much of it in town.

The posterboards could have the slogan, "Take it off, take it all off" and maybe we could get a brass band to play The Stripper. B)

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OK Danax you're showing your age

My grandpa told me about it!

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Noxzema Shaving Cream Girl - In the mid 1960s, an attractive eighteen-year-old Swedish-born blonde model named Gunilla Knutson teasingly urged men to "Take it off, take it all off" with Noxzema Medicated Instant Shave Cream (1966-73). With David Rose's rousing pop hit melody "The Stripper" playing in the background, the commercial showed shaving sequences of a man scraping off Noxzema shaving cream in neat, clean rows as the Noxzema Girl said "Take it off. take it all off!" and "The closer you shave the more you need Noxzema." The commercial ended with a beautiful blonde (Gunilla) caressing a canister of Noxzema shaving cream and then the cheeks of the now clean-shaven man.

"Nothing takes it off like Noxzema Medicated Shave

....Take it off, Take it all off."

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Ah Niche, you're such a killjoy!

The problem is that it's not really a bad guy/good guy issue and trying to stretch it into one wouldn't be right and would possibly backfire anyway so maybe Houston Press won't have anything along their lines to report.

I agree: it isn't a good vs. evil situation and it would be disingenuous to portray it as such. But the press is most easily manipulated if you can turn it into something like that. Reminiscing is good for the Heights Tribune, but the Houston Press needs something especially spicy. Between the protesting setup like you suggested and some good ol' fashioned slander, you'd have yourself a good front-page story.

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Or, we could bypass Plan B completely and go for Plan C; print up some big, full-color posters of what the building once looked like and then pay some trustworthy homeless people (plenty of them call Sears home), and have them prance around and pass out HAIF literature on the subject, or just a printout of this topic. We can call Houston Press to cover the event. :)

It seems the natural person to contact to get publicity about this kind of thing would be the Chronicle architecture critic. Oh, wait! The Chronicle doesn't have an architecture critic.

Never mind. :ph34r:

Seriously, as much as I would like to see this building restored, it doesn't seem that Sears has ever evidenced much interest in the historical character of their stores or neighborhoods. The informative response to Sevfiv's note sort of sums it up.

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  • 3 months later...

Idle observation:

While waiting at Wheeler Station, I noticed that the big SEARS sign on the roof (facing southwest) also contains neon tubing which spells

OPEN T 9

(to 9? 'til 9?) Since it's not lit you have to look really hard to see it. Wonder when it was last used?

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  • 2 months later...
It was last month...

When I went past it on emergency leave it seemed dead. I was a recruiter in Houston and went in there once. We roam all of Houston so there was no reason for me not to check it out while on the clock. Just sad how they run that store. Seems like if they're going to have it open it should be well known beyond a doubt.

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I wasn't too impressed when I went there.

I found that the few times I went in there I couldn't even find what I wanted and things were expensive. I wanted a lamp for my apartment and the few lamps they had cost something on the order of $100 and looked really cheap. I ended up going to target and getting one for $25. The sales people were nice enough but didn't seem to really want to sell me anything, and everything seemed kind of expensive compared to the alternatives like Target. I'd much rather shop at Sears though because it's closer to where I live.

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Management was hoping that this particular store would "come back" while Midtown was booming. It was for a short period of time but as you witnessed the customer service and negativity of the employees implies the end is near.

There were several other topics on this Sears store. One even had a good photo of a before & after photo. Yes, it appeared much nicer in its original design. The fortress they added has to be once of the worse remuddles ever. The crime was getting so bad surrounding it they had to cover the big display windows and even the wonderful restaurant area (which is still there only covered). Had great hamburgers/fies and malts! You have to remember that this section of downtown was to be avoided in the late 60's up until ....well... I still would avoid it. Wait until dark, just like the movie.

I used to go to the tire shop only in desperation but I had a bad experience with the manager (con-artist)there I prefer to stick to Sears at Baybrook wich there is no comparing to this sad location. There is simply no comparing. This Sears needs to be on Crater Houston. It is just too cramed into the rail area. At rush hour its a living nightmare. Whole new topic. I have to pass by each day. Nightmare on Main Street. :wacko:

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It was kinda deco then. I had really thought that by now, that location would be closed.

and I doubt they would ever listen to "us" just to restore to original appearance. The building is just too wedged into a cramp space. Trucks have a hellish time just trying to back in to unload. The rail has created a mass of people rushing across the streets to catch the rail as it stops. At rush hour its a bad risky scramble of pedestrians/homeless. Sears is just out of place, period. May as well demolish and or build a new one over closer to the tire shop. Going inside for me anyway is just for the sake of nostalgia. Head towards the back and the original stairs/water fountains of marble or whatever that mateiral is there. The restrooms still looked like form 1960's, but it could be altered by now. Anyhow, as I said it would cost more to save. Kind of miss seeing Winnie The Pooh stuffed bears everywhere.

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i like the south main location - plus, it's the only centrally located Sears (although the N. Shepherd location isn't too far away - and still has a deco-ish appearance)

the vehicle loading area is in a really bad location - maybe it could be relocated somehow...

so how hard could it be to grab a few crowbars and yank that cladding off? :blush:

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Just wondering if it being in mid-town and all the renovations going on, that it will get a face lift, redesign, etc. It really could be a showplace for Sears (and the city) if they just put a little money and creativity into it.

You folks had some great ideas and suggestions.

My thing is not so much the location or the design, it's the merchandise. Sears never really ... excites.

Edited by houstonmacbro
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  • 4 weeks later...
Hey, the homeless are residents too ... don't let the look frighten you.

I can't believe they took a classically designed, nice department store building and turned it into complete shite. That's one ugly building now...and looks like it needs to be condemned.

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