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I was told by an employee just a couple of weeks ago that the building and property is now owned by Rice University. Sears is just a tenant. And don't forget that Sears is now owned by Kmart, the corporate name just recently changed from Kmart Holdings to Sears Holdings.

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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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I was told by an employee just a couple of weeks ago that the building and property is now owned by Rice University. Sears is just a tenant. And don't forget that Sears is now owned by Kmart, the corporate name just recently changed from Kmart Holdings to Sears Holdings.

i wonder if this would be really recent - tax records show sears+roebuck as the owners since forever

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  • 8 months later...

It would be nice to have one vintage Sears bldg. restored and still occupied. Sears has a long association with Houston. The original store was located on Buffalo Drive, Allen Pkwy area (it flooded). Guess I'm just sentimental. I grew up with these bldgs.(the one on Harrisburg Blvd. & the one in Pasadena (mentioned in AIA Architecture book, 1st Ed., Papademetriou-Author). Not to mention, Art Deco is my latest Arch. fascination. There was one on the Northwest side as well. Is it still there?

I remember the Sears restaurant in the Harrisburg location, bomarang formica tabletops, 1960's of course.

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Maybe someone could restore the building and make it a multi-tenant shopping, restaurants, bars. They could put an arcade or something like that in the basement. I'd really rather Sear's do something with the building since it's the one that I use for tools and appliances.

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  • 4 weeks later...
In the new issue of Cite there is an article about the old Sears on South Main at Wheeler called "When Good Buildings Go Bad". The article is about how the beautiful old art deco building was remodeled to look like a giant metal storage shed. It says that the metal cladding was added in 1968. In the old HAIF I remember there was a thread about Sears, and someone posted some old photos of Sears shortly after the facade had been added. I could swear that they were from the early-mid 1950s, not the late 1960s. Can anyone verify if this is correct? Thanks.

Before remodeling:

Sears.jpg

Subdude:

Any chance you could find the color picture of the old Sears Store on South Main?

(IMG:http://xs35.xs.to/pics/05261/Sears.jpg)

It used to be hosted at the above site. It looks like a wonderful old postcard. I am trying to find Sears and Roebucks nostalgia information for a friend who is interested in Sears history. He would enjoy seeing that, and I would like to see the the original postcard. I used to go to a Sears store like that back in the 50's.

All I can find is the thumbnail:

sears_southmain.jpg

Many Thanks

thawk

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This Sears needs a to go back to the Art Deco style AND

bring back the popcorn and icee days!

:)

I almost forgot about that. The smell of the popcorn would pu;; you in. And, they had the neat candy stand.

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I almost forgot about that. The smell of the popcorn would pu;; you in. And, they had the neat candy stand.

The Pasadena Sears was the same way. I have good memories of that popcorn smell, those huge glass display cases of every kind of colorful candy. :rolleyes:

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

The article is dead on correct. Truly an eyesore.

On a nostlagic note I was amazed (floored) to see the key maker in his little booth outside as if it were still 1968. I needed some keys made so went for it. Another bygone or as the other topic noted Later Day Luxury of the past.

You can get some heck of a good deals inside. Do it before they plow it under. It will be kind of sad to see it go but it is simply in the way of progress. Nice knowing ya Sears Main street.

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Good article on the Sears bldg. history/architects. Always like to know that. Someone needs to recognize the huge potential of this bldg. Can't just find those materials anywhere, nowadays. Not to mention one with such a history in this city. On one positive note, Sears doesn't own the land, Rice does. IMO, Rice University needs to buy out Sears interests & convert it into housing for students, or something to benefit the school, preferably the Architectural Dept. It's right on the rail line, perfectly short commute.

Wonder what happened to all that brass on the escalators. <_<

Edited by NenaE
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On a nostlagic note I was amazed (floored) to see the key maker in his little booth outside as if it were still 1968. I needed some keys made so went for it. Another bygone or as the other topic noted Later Day Luxury of the past.

The little key-maker booth exists outside of every Sears, unless I'm very much mistaken. There's one over here by me, and I've seen other key booths outsider other Sears around town.

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The little key-maker booth exists outside of every Sears, unless I'm very much mistaken. There's one over here by me, and I've seen other key booths outsider other Sears around town.

You are correct, there was a key booth outside the Pasadena location, as well. I remember it was the first place I saw the different colored keys. Was mesmerized, haha. I also remember the bells ringing for codes, calling the store employees. And the stairs located on each side of the bldg, w/rubber mats. We liked to play on them. "Sears -Roebuck" was definitely the place to go, in it's heyday. Spent many days there as a kid. The Christmas Catalog was the best.

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You are correct, there was a key booth outside the Pasadena location, as well. I remember it was the first place I saw the different colored keys. Was mesmerized, haha. I also remember the bells ringing for codes, calling the store employees. And the stairs located on each side of the bldg, w/rubber mats. We liked to play on them. "Sears -Roebuck" was definitely the place to go, in it's heyday. Spent many days there as a kid. The Christmas Catalog was the best.

Nena you forgot the BEST part....the TOY DEPT! :D

I used to rush down that escalator (much to the chagrin of mom) to run to the toys. I had to see what the newest Lego addtions were there. I practically would push shoppers to the side to check out. It was a fixation for a while, but Sears was always known for having the coolest toys like mechanical Godzilla's, robots, Tonka Trucks, GI Joe's etc, etc, etc. We kids were in toy heaven!

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While we all agree that the Sears Building is ugly in its current state, to me at least, the reason to update it was admirable. The 60's had a vision and hope for the future. They loved all things "futuristic". They thought humankind was moving forward. Compared to todays crappy rehash of all things old. See the ridiculous Mediterranean, italian and Spanish colonial crap going up all over the city. I feel like we let them down.

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While we all agree that the Sears Building is ugly in its current state, to me at least, the reason to update it was admirable. The 60's had a vision and hope for the future. They loved all things "futuristic". They thought humankind was moving forward. Compared to todays crappy rehash of all things old. See the ridiculous Mediterranean, italian and Spanish colonial crap going up all over the city. I feel like we let them down.

While I would like to see this building restored to its Art Deco glory, I do share your sentiment regarding a futuristic approach to architecture. It seems the more I learn about architectural history, the more I favor Modernism in new construction.

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Nena you forgot the BEST part....the TOY DEPT! :D

I used to rush down that escalator (much to the chagrin of mom) to run to the toys. I had to see what the newest Lego addtions were there. I practically would push shoppers to the side to check out. It was a fixation for a while, but Sears was always known for having the coolest toys like mechanical Godzilla's, robots, Tonka Trucks, GI Joe's etc, etc, etc. We kids were in toy heaven!

When I went to Sears, we didn't visit the toy dept. very much. It was on the other side of the store, by the lawn stuff. Ray's dime store, Globe, the Gulfgate toy store & Newberrys come to mind, instead. But I do remember the Sears Winnie-the-Pooh toys and clothes. Always wanted those pajamas. haha. Loved those catalogs.

Ideal, Hasbro, Mattel, & Wham-o come to mind.

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While we all agree that the Sears Building is ugly in its current state, to me at least, the reason to update it was admirable. The 60's had a vision and hope for the future. They loved all things "futuristic". They thought humankind was moving forward. Compared to todays crappy rehash of all things old. See the ridiculous Mediterranean, italian and Spanish colonial crap going up all over the city. I feel like we let them down.

Interesting take on it. Although I love a lot of the modernism of the 1960s, at the end of the day it was perhaps just a style, and was destined to change. It may be admirable to have vision for the future, but I think a lot of buildings from that time came off as sterile and a bit inhuman. It probably wasn't that popular with a lot of the public, who will ever prefer that Italian, Spanish, and colonial revival.

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It probably wasn't that popular with a lot of the public, who will ever prefer that Italian, Spanish, and colonial revival.

I think you're on to something. Could it be that Western culture has a dysfunctional relationship with its feudal past?

There is a curious lack of turrets in mid- century modern.

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Does anyone really refer to this area as "South Main" like Cite does?

Surprised that Cite does, my 1953 map shows S. Main after (Rice) University Blvd., north of this location the street is listed as simply Main. Also in two of my books, the address listing for Sears bldg. & Delman Theater is just Main. Note: The Sears Bldg. is featured in the new Houston Deco book by J. Parsons & D. Bush. (2008)

The 1953 map also shows a very long "Alief Road" feeding into downtown. There was no Hwy 59S, either way, where it now forks around the Sears store, leading into downtown. The map shows a huge area of land w/ cross streets that starts at downtown, ends at Hermann Park, and has plats of land/paved streets in between that are very similar in size, can tell the whole area was probably planned out at the same time. I can see exactly why the particular area around Sears is called Midtown, now. The Sears store would have sat, even then, at a very strategic location, where many roads met. Hwy 288 is listed nearby.

I remember a green marble sidewalk entrance to a bldg, like stated above, very elaborate, but it was located to the East of the Sears bldg. Anyone seen that? It's West of the speakeasy/ original Cleburne's cafeteria. That whole area is really a gold mine.

Read today that the Delman was not torn down for the train right-of-way, but was *demolished because the owner thought the land would be more valuable without the theater sitting on it. (Typical mentality, why am I not surprised? only very disappointed. :angry: ) Midtown Management District tried to save it, couldn't reach an agreement.*source: Cinema Houston

Edited by NenaE
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Ahh, the memories of getting all dressed up to take a family trip to Sears on Main or even further down to Foley's...

I think the drive to Sears was as much fun as actually getting inside the store. In those days, we happily hung our heads out of the car windows and we were never told to buckle up or sit back, this was our treat.

I can remember my mom getting out her aligator shoes with bag to match and even a hat. We put on out pretty little dresses with petticoats, white ruffle socks and patent leather shoes. Now you see families in jeans, pull overs and the kiddies are wearing flip flops. Take me back to the days when our mothers had to starch our clothes, this was before permanent press, a new fangled invention.

I can still smell the popcorn...

These pics were taken from http://www.houstondeco.org

1939

2q87kmu.jpg

2006

rr8ky8.jpg

Edited by BabyJaneHudson
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*FYI, the Southwest Frwy was not constructed until 1969, (p. 83, AIA Guide, S. Fox, again), later than I thought. Took out the Courtlandt Place entrance gates, piers, walls on the East side. They were later rebuilt. Believe that is where that spur is that feeds into Downtown, to the left of Sears.

Correction Edit: My mistake, this first statement was not correct, see below posts. Parts just outside of 59S/610 were not completed until late 60's. Parts of 59S inside 610 were constructed earlier. See notes & link below for full story.

Edited by NenaE
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FYI, the Southwest Frwy was not constructed until 1969, (p. 83, AIA Guide, S. Fox, again), later than I thought. Took out the Courtlandt Place entrance gates, piers, walls on the East side. They were later rebuilt. Believe that is where that spur is that feeds into Downtown, to the left of Sears.

I would have to disagree with that date. 1962 would be more believable.

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I would have to disagree with that date. 1962 would be more believable.

You are correct, it was much earlier, first section (around Midtown) of Hwy 59S was completed in 1961, second in 1962, (by Midtown, further west)again by the Sears store, the section extending to Westwood Mall was the later date of 1969. Interesting how it was done in so many sections, so many years.

link: http://www.houstonfreeways.com/ebook.aspx

Edited by NenaE
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FYI, the Southwest Frwy was not constructed until 1969, (p. 83, AIA Guide, S. Fox, again), later than I thought. Took out the Courtlandt Place entrance gates, piers, walls on the East side. They were later rebuilt. Believe that is where that spur is that feeds into Downtown, to the left of Sears.

Some info on the SW Fwy history that I found...

September 27, 1957

Frank Sharp's proposal for the routing of the freeway is adopted. Routing inside Loop 610 had probably been previously adopted.

November 1958

A Houston Chronicle Article dated 3-April-1959 reports that construction began in November 1958.

July 26, 1961

Dedication ceremony for the 10-lane freeway from the downtown split to Shepherd. The ceremony is held on the elevated freeway above Montrose.

August 1, 1962

Dedication ceremony for the freeway to Sharpstown Mall (Bellaire Blvd.). The ceremony is held on US 59 underneath IH-610.

1962

The four-level stack at IH-610 is completed. This was Houston's first four-level stack.

1960's

Freeway completed between downtown Houston and southwest Houston. Inside I-610, freeway has 8 main lanes and 6 feeder lanes.

Approx 1974

Freeway completed to Sugar Land.

Approx 1975

Final elevated segment completed through downtown.

Approx 1976

4 lanes freeway completed from Sugar Land southwest to Richmond/Rosenberg

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I must have taken the description out of context, maybe an additional modification of the spur caused the Courtlandt Place Wall to be lost at a later date. Dunno, here's the direct quote (p.83) (talking about the Courtlandt East End Gate & Wall): "The east end lost its concave screen of piers and spur walls to the construction of the Southwest Freeway in 1969".

thnx guys for your input.

Edited by NenaE
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  • 2 weeks later...
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.

As a vicious and heartless neocon, I would pay good money to see homeless people prancing.

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Knowing Sears, they have extra siding in storage! Sears is having some really, really bad financial problems right now. I hate to say this, but I bet it'll be a long time before Sears/Rice restores this building. It'd make an awesome off capus location for Rice, wouldn't it?

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Here you are. :)

sears884.jpg

rsb320, My sentiments exactly...I loved that era. Never realized til now that there was a stairway outside leading to a second story balcony/patio. Nice...even had ornamental trees. Was this the smoking area? :D Or was the whole store a smoking area? I know the postcard was an architectural rendering, wonder if the store actually had that patio. :lol: I wonder a lot.

Edited by NenaE
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