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Near East End Mansions


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Only few people may remember or have documentation of some of the huge mansions that once stood in the near East Side. Telephone Rd and Wayside/45 areas. Here are 3 that come to mind and thats only becuase I remember seeing them as a kid and even then they were abandoned and near collapse in the mid 70's.

1. Was at Wayside near Lawndale across the street from the Gus Wortham Golf Course. Where there is now an overcrowded, jammed Fiesta market and adjacent strip mall once stood a Plantation-like mansion with tall elegant columns painted white with a huge fountain in the front of the curved/circular expansive driveway. You could imagine Scarlett O'Hara rushing down the grand staircase to meet Rhett. Had tall oak trees lining the drive. Bulldozed around 1975 for this ugly over-developed heap. To make matters worse they crammed an elementary school in there. Pure insanity.

2. Over by Telephone Road and Winkler as Telephone curves going east once stood another huge mansion very similar as the Plantation home also with curved drive. Was in the high Gothic-Victorian style 2 stories with a servants quarters on the side and horse stable. All that remains is the old palm trees that lined the circular drive. Nothing has ever replaced it to this day. Makes you wonder who and why it met such a fate?

What kind of people lived there? Why such a palatial home? What kind of people visited, dignitaries?

3. Where the East End post office now stands on Lawndale/Des Jardines st. There was another beautiful three story palace of a home. In the turn of the century Victorian style too. Massive upstairs screened in porch (must have been a great view) with a large front and backyard. Vacant for many years but could have been restored to its former glory. I recall actually sneaking inside with friends out of shear curiosity. Hit my head on the huge newel post. Guess I deserved it. I recall it being an elephant of a house the kind crazy movie people used to make back in the silent film days. Now this house did seem as if Norma Desmond lived in it. It was torn down around 1976. All that remains are the 3 tall elegant palms that seem so lonely without their beautiful painted lady, now just a memory.

Houston "shame on you" for not being so supportive of restoration and preservation from the get-go. :(

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Was at Wayside near Lawndale across the street from the Gus Wortham Golf Course. Where there is now an overcrowded, jammed Fiesta market and adjacent strip mall once stood a Plantation-like mansion with tall elegant columns painted white with a huge fountain in the front of the curved/circular expansive driveway. You could imagine Scarlett O'Hara rushing down the grand staircase to meet Rhett. Had tall oak trees lining the drive. Bulldozed around 1975 for this ugly over-developed heap. To make matters worse they crammed an elementary school in there. Pure insanity.

I think that was the Sims estate. Not 100% sure tho.

Also...let's not forget the big houses in Forest Hill on Alta Vista and Pasadena. The one on Pasadena looks like it is about ready for the bulldozer....you can see all the way through the house in some places you shouldn't be able to...like the roof. The two on Alta Vista are doing better, espescially the one with the red tile roof. The one next door could use some serious help, but isn't hopeless....yet.

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There was nothing but vast expanses of land out there, and the some of the landowners had some fine homes, the Bissonett family being another apparently.

Where I lived was the once the edge of Harrisburg. My house, a simple Queen Anne cottage, belonged to the son of the man who planted the pecans and whose land became Pecan Park after he died in 1923 and it was sold to the Magnolia Park Land Co.. There's another house built by the same family on Parsons St. nearby which is more like a farmhouse than mansion, and supposedly dates from the late 1890s. Hard to tell beneath the vinyl siding and porch destruction though. I spoke with the current owner, who lives in Pearland and uses the home for storing junk and is unfortunately letting it waste into the ground. He told me that Parsons St. was once part of the old county road, which is why it's the only diagonal road within the surrounding grid. He had lived around there in his youth and remembered the Bissonett mansion up the road near the current Davila Elementary School. He recalls going inside once as Bill Bissonett's guest and seeing the exotic chandeliers and antiques.

He said it eventually became abandoned and finally burned down.

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1. Was at Wayside near Lawndale across the street from the Gus Wortham Golf Course. Where there is now an overcrowded, jammed Fiesta market and adjacent strip mall once stood a Plantation-like mansion with tall elegant columns painted white with a huge fountain in the front of the curved/circular expansive driveway. You could imagine Scarlett O'Hara rushing down the grand staircase to meet Rhett. Had tall oak trees lining the drive. Bulldozed around 1975 for this ugly over-developed heap. To make matters worse they crammed an elementary school in there. Pure insanity.

This was definitely the Sims Mansion. We used to run around there at night when I was in high school. From what I remember it had a basement too. I believe the mansion was called Wayside and was a social gathering place in it's heyday.

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From the East End article in the Winter 2006 Issue of Cite:

"At about the same time that the Forest Hill subdivision was still seen as a good idea, Colonel Edward F. Simms, a Kentuckian who made his fortune in the oil fields of Texas and Louisiana, settled in Houston. Sometime after 1910 he purchased several tracts of land adjacent to the west side of the Houston Country Club along what would become South Wayside Drive. According to Marguerite Johnston, author of Houston, The Unknown City 1836-1946, '...he built a mansion with a library, living room, dining room, and a breakfast room, on the first floor, a maid's room off the kitchen, a wine cellar and furnace in the basement, and seven bedrooms and five bathrooms on the upper floors, as well as a big upstairs sleeping porch. He built gardens, stables, a green house, reflecting pools, lakes, and one of Houston's first swimming pools - a big one set some distance from the house. The estate required eight gardeners and five house servants to maintain. He called it Wayside'

Simms' stucco-clad main house at 900 South Wayside Drive was accessible by a winding gravel drive. Fire insurance company maps, which were last updated in 1969, showed several additional smaller houses, an extensive collection of outbuildings, and an irregularly shaped concrete swimming pool that was designed to look like a pond.

Simms' stepdaughter Bessie married architect Kenneth Franzheim, whose office designed many of the important commercial buildings in Houston from the 1930s through the 1950s. During the years that the Franzheims were in residence at Wayside, it was often the scene of prominent social gatherings. In March 1949, for example, during the American Institute of Architects' national convention in Houston, Bessie entertained a delegation of the wives of architects from Cuba and Mexico at the house. At its peak from the 1920s through the 1940s, the Simms estate was one of the largest, most elaborate residential compounds in Houston. Over the years, though, the family sold parcels of the estate, notably the southern sections along Lawndale Avenue, which became the Houston Country Club Place subdivision and the Simms Woods subdivision."

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From the East End article in the Winter 2006 Issue of Cite:

"At about the same time that the Forest Hill subdivision was still seen as a good idea, Colonel Edward F. Simms, a Kentuckian who made his fortune in the oil fields of Texas and Louisiana, settled in Houston. Sometime after 1910 he purchased several tracts of land adjacent to the west side of the Houston Country Club along what would become South Wayside Drive. According to Marguerite Johnston, author of Houston, The Unknown City 1836-1946, '...he built a mansion with a library, living room, dining room, and a breakfast room, on the first floor, a maid's room off the kitchen, a wine cellar and furnace in the basement, and seven bedrooms and five bathrooms on the upper floors, as well as a big upstairs sleeping porch. He built gardens, stables, a green house, reflecting pools, lakes, and one of Houston's first swimming pools - a big one set some distance from the house. The estate required eight gardeners and five house servants to maintain. He called it Wayside'

Simms' stucco-clad main house at 900 South Wayside Drive was accessible by a winding gravel drive. Fire insurance company maps, which were last updated in 1969, showed several additional smaller houses, an extensive collection of outbuildings, and an irregularly shaped concrete swimming pool that was designed to look like a pond.

Simms' stepdaughter Bessie married architect Kenneth Franzheim, whose office designed many of the important commercial buildings in Houston from the 1930s through the 1950s. During the years that the Franzheims were in residence at Wayside, it was often the scene of prominent social gatherings. In March 1949, for example, during the American Institute of Architects' national convention in Houston, Bessie entertained a delegation of the wives of architects from Cuba and Mexico at the house. At its peak from the 1920s through the 1940s, the Simms estate was one of the largest, most elaborate residential compounds in Houston. Over the years, though, the family sold parcels of the estate, notably the southern sections along Lawndale Avenue, which became the Houston Country Club Place subdivision and the Simms Woods subdivision."

Thank You all for solving this mystery.

Just love reading stories like this.

As an addition, I wonder if anyone knows what ever became of the huge country clubhouse building that was in The Golf Course grounds? I once helped cater a dinner there as a teenager around 1975. I remember it was very large and looked turn of the century. Must have entertained some notables as well. If anyone can suggest anyone that has knowledge of the golf course grounds and how it came to be and especially that clubhouse. May still be there?

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Thank You all for solving this mystery.

Just love reading stories like this.

As an addition, I wonder if anyone knows what ever became of the huge country clubhouse building that was in The Golf Course grounds? I once helped cater a dinner there as a teenager around 1975. I remember it was very large and looked turn of the century. Must have entertained some notables as well. If anyone can suggest anyone that has knowledge of the golf course grounds and how it came to be and especially that clubhouse. May still be there?

Go ask the operators of the current Houston Country Club in Tanglewood. Maybe they have some memorabilia or a historian?

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2. Over by Telephone Road and Winkler as Telephone curves going east once stood another huge mansion very similar as the Plantation home also with curved drive. Was in the high Gothic-Victorian style 2 stories with a servants quarters on the side and horse stable. All that remains is the old palm trees that lined the circular drive. Nothing has ever replaced it to this day. Makes you wonder who and why it met such a fate?

What kind of people lived there? Why such a palatial home? What kind of people visited, dignitaries?

Are you sure this was not at Telephone and Wheeler instead of Telephone and Winkler? I know about the house at Telephone and Wheeler with the circular drive and Palm trees. It is next to the Houston Parks and Recreation building.

Thank You all for solving this mystery.

Just love reading stories like this.

As an addition, I wonder if anyone knows what ever became of the huge country clubhouse building that was in The Golf Course grounds? I once helped cater a dinner there as a teenager around 1975. I remember it was very large and looked turn of the century. Must have entertained some notables as well. If anyone can suggest anyone that has knowledge of the golf course grounds and how it came to be and especially that clubhouse. May still be there?

Houston_Country_Club.jpg

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2. Over by Telephone Road and Winkler as Telephone curves going east once stood another huge mansion very similar as the Plantation home also with curved drive. Was in the high Gothic-Victorian style 2 stories with a servants quarters on the side and horse stable. All that remains is the old palm trees that lined the circular drive. Nothing has ever replaced it to this day. Makes you wonder who and why it met such a fate?

What kind of people lived there? Why such a palatial home? What kind of people visited, dignitaries?

Are you sure this was not at Telephone and Wheeler instead of Telephone and Winkler? I know about the house at Telephone and Wheeler with the circular drive and Palm trees. It is next to the Houston Parks and Recreation building.

Houston_Country_Club.jpg

Unreal, I just went back in time (jaw drop).

1974-75 Best I remember, we pulled up our catering trucks to the back and brought in that delicious barbecue from (Lenox BBQ on Harrisburg) They were having some kind of big fancy affair that evening. The dining area was humongous with white linens on all the tables and candelabra throughout. Big bay windows with expensive drapery wrapped around the place with fantastic views of the golf course and wooded area. When we walked on the big porch it seemed like you were walking on the deck of an ocean liner. The best part was the high brow crowd that engulfed the place. My job was being dressed to the nines and making sure drinks were full. There was a live orchestra playing on the outside. The place echoed with the big crowds voices. Seems like a dream now.

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Unreal, I just went back in time (jaw drop).

1974-75 Best I remember, we pulled up our catering trucks to the back and brought in that delicious barbecue from (Lenox BBQ on Harrisburg) They were having some kind of big fancy affair that evening. The dining area was humongous with white linens on all the tables and candelabra throughout. Big bay windows with expensive drapery wrapped around the place with fantastic views of the golf course and wooded area. When we walked on the big porch it seemed like you were walking on the deck of an ocean liner. The best part was the high brow crowd that engulfed the place. My job was being dressed to the nines and making sure drinks were full. There was a live orchestra playing on the outside. The place echoed with the big crowds voices. Seems like a dream now.

Nice building. It looks to be Tudor influenced Craftsman style, which was popular around 1900-1915. I'm guessing the interior was dark with dark woodwork. I've never played Gus Wortham (formerly Houston Country Club) so I have no idea if the place is still standing. Anyone know? Hard to imagine that it would be torn down, being so classic, classy and sequestered in a golf course.

Ah, but this is Houston. Almost forgot. <_<

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Ben Koush's article in the newest Cite says it was by Sanguinet and Staats, completed in 1909. Hugo Neuhaus had Harrie T. Lindeberg (New York architect of Shadyside fame) remodel it in 1921 with arcades, pink stucco bath houses, and a swimming pool. In 1939, club member Kenneth Franzheim remodeled it again. After the club moved in 1957, Gus Wortham bought the golf course, and then in 1973 the City of Houston bought it and named it for Wortham. According to Ben, "Today, none of the buildings are extant...The existing clubhouse dates to this (1973) period."

Edited by marmer
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ve. According to Marguerite Johnston, author of Houston, The Unknown City 1836-1946, '...he built a mansion with a library, living room, dining room, and a breakfast room, on the first floor, a maid's room off the kitchen, a wine cellar and furnace in the basement, and seven bedrooms and five bathrooms on the upper floors, as well as a big upstairs sleeping porch. He built gardens, stables, a green house, reflecting pools, lakes, and one of Houston's first swimming pools - a big one set some distance from the house. The estate required eight gardeners and five house servants to maintain. He called it Wayside'

I don't have a copy of the Johnston book, or of Houston's Forgotten Heritage, but I've seen both and wonder if there's a photo in one of them... Anybody have a copy?

Marty

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Only few people may remember or have documentation of some of the huge mansions that once stood in the near East Side. Telephone Rd and Wayside/45 areas. Here are 3 that come to mind and thats only becuase I remember seeing them as a kid and even then they were abandoned and near collapse in the mid 70's.

1. Was at Wayside near Lawndale across the street from the Gus Wortham Golf Course. Where there is now an overcrowded, jammed Fiesta market and adjacent strip mall once stood a Plantation-like mansion with tall elegant columns painted white with a huge fountain in the front of the curved/circular expansive driveway. You could imagine Scarlett O'Hara rushing down the grand staircase to meet Rhett. Had tall oak trees lining the drive. Bulldozed around 1975 for this ugly over-developed heap. To make matters worse they crammed an elementary school in there. Pure insanity.

2. Over by Telephone Road and Winkler as Telephone curves going east once stood another huge mansion very similar as the Plantation home also with curved drive. Was in the high Gothic-Victorian style 2 stories with a servants quarters on the side and horse stable. All that remains is the old palm trees that lined the circular drive. Nothing has ever replaced it to this day. Makes you wonder who and why it met such a fate?

What kind of people lived there? Why such a palatial home? What kind of people visited, dignitaries?

3. Where the East End post office now stands on Lawndale/Des Jardines st. There was another beautiful three story palace of a home. In the turn of the century Victorian style too. Massive upstairs screened in porch (must have been a great view) with a large front and backyard. Vacant for many years but could have been restored to its former glory. I recall actually sneaking inside with friends out of shear curiosity. Hit my head on the huge newel post. Guess I deserved it. I recall it being an elephant of a house the kind crazy movie people used to make back in the silent film days. Now this house did seem as if Norma Desmond lived in it. It was torn down around 1976. All that remains are the 3 tall elegant palms that seem so lonely without their beautiful painted lady, now just a memory.

Houston "shame on you" for not being so supportive of restoration and preservation from the get-go. :(

Do you remember a big 2 or 3 story white house with black trim on Southpark? I remember going with my great grandmother in the early 60's to visit a woman that lived there named Mrs. Tart. We would drive north on OST and turn left onto Southpark and the house wasnt too far down on the left hand side. It also was surrounded by a white split rail fence. There was a boarded over well in her backyard with the story of a little boy that drowned when he fell in the well. Another story had it being an orphanage at one time.

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Do you remember a big 2 or 3 story white house with black trim on Southpark? I remember going with my great grandmother in the early 60's to visit a woman that lived there named Mrs. Tart. We would drive north on OST and turn left onto Southpark and the house wasnt too far down on the left hand side. It also was surrounded by a white split rail fence. There was a boarded over well in her backyard with the story of a little boy that drowned when he fell in the well. Another story had it being an orphanage at one time.

That area sounds like it is right behind U of H main campus or MacGregor Park? and I always thought OST ran East to West towards the Astrodome?

If thats the area you mean near that park there are still many real pretty houses that were built in the 1930-1940 era. I had a friend who's mother was a teacher at UH and they had a large corner lot with a beautiful 2 story spacious home. So that sounds more like Macgregor grounds.

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That area sounds like it is right behind U of H main campus or MacGregor Park? and I always thought OST ran East to West towards the Astrodome?

If thats the area you mean near that park there are still many real pretty houses that were built in the 1930-1940 era. I had a friend who's mother was a teacher at UH and they had a large corner lot with a beautiful 2 story spacious home. So that sounds more like Macgregor grounds.

I Guess I would have been driving west on ost and turning left on southpark or mlk. Back then it was Southpark. It was only about 300 yards or so until you got to the house on the left hand side of the street . It was a wooden house. The house was really big and had big staircases going up both sides of the living room.

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  • 1 year later...
At its peak from the 1920s through the 1940s, the Simms estate was one of the largest, most elaborate residential compounds in Houston. Over the years, though, the family sold parcels of the estate, notably the southern sections along Lawndale Avenue, which became the Houston Country Club Place subdivision and the Simms Woods subdivision."
from DantheMan post

Houston - the Unknown City 1836-1946 also states that "Before it was over, the depression cost Colonel Simms all but forty of his more than two hundred acres, ..." (p.298).

I guess the neighborhoods mentioned above would have been the last to be sold. Would like to see the original estate boundaries.

Thanks Marmer for the post of the history of the Country Club construction. I posted brief info. on the swimming pool today. (East End Topic)

Edited by NenaE
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  • 1 year later...

Only few people may remember or have documentation of some of the huge mansions that once stood in the near East Side. Telephone Rd and Wayside/45 areas. Here are 3 that come to mind and thats only becuase I remember seeing them as a kid and even then they were abandoned and near collapse in the mid 70's.

1. Was at Wayside near Lawndale across the street from the Gus Wortham Golf Course. Where there is now an overcrowded, jammed Fiesta market and adjacent strip mall once stood a Plantation-like mansion with tall elegant columns painted white with a huge fountain in the front of the curved/circular expansive driveway. You could imagine Scarlett O'Hara rushing down the grand staircase to meet Rhett. Had tall oak trees lining the drive. Bulldozed around 1975 for this ugly over-developed heap. To make matters worse they crammed an elementary school in there. Pure insanity.

2. Over by Telephone Road and Winkler as Telephone curves going east once stood another huge mansion very similar as the Plantation home also with curved drive. Was in the high Gothic-Victorian style 2 stories with a servants quarters on the side and horse stable. All that remains is the old palm trees that lined the circular drive. Nothing has ever replaced it to this day. Makes you wonder who and why it met such a fate?

What kind of people lived there? Why such a palatial home? What kind of people visited, dignitaries?

3. Where the East End post office now stands on Lawndale/Des Jardines st. There was another beautiful three story palace of a home. In the turn of the century Victorian style too. Massive upstairs screened in porch (must have been a great view) with a large front and backyard. Vacant for many years but could have been restored to its former glory. I recall actually sneaking inside with friends out of shear curiosity. Hit my head on the huge newel post. Guess I deserved it. I recall it being an elephant of a house the kind crazy movie people used to make back in the silent film days. Now this house did seem as if Norma Desmond lived in it. It was torn down around 1976. All that remains are the 3 tall elegant palms that seem so lonely without their beautiful painted lady, now just a memory.

Houston "shame on you" for not being so supportive of restoration and preservation from the get-go. :(

I DONT KNOW ABOUT 2 OR 3 BUT 1 WAS A CATHOLIC CHURCH. MOST OF THE PROPERTY RAN FROM LAWNDALE TO ALMOST THE BAYOU..........IT HAD A BRICK WALL RUNNING THE ENTIRE LENGTH FACING WAYSIDE. ON THE OTHER SIDE, THE FIRST STREET PAST WAYSIDE WHEN YOU ARE GOING WEST ON LAWNDALE.......TURN LEFT OR SOUTH...........THEN WILL THE IRON FENCE YOU COULD SEE THE CLEARED LAND AND CHURCH, ETC.......THEY TORE IT DOWN FOR MONEY AND PROGRESS

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  • 1 year later...

"Are you sure this was not at Telephone and Wheeler instead of Telephone and Winkler? I know about the house at Telephone and Wheeler with the circular drive and Palm trees. It is next to the Houston Parks and Recreation building" ...isuredid's post, a while ago. post #8, above.

isuredid was right about the location, Telephone and Wheeler, here's an aerial shot. I'm wondering if that wasn't Mr. MacGregors estate. Does anyone know? His wife donated the land nearby for a park.Griggs Rd. is in the top left corner, above the estate. This is very close to Riverside Terrace. Says at the time of MacGregor's death, he was thinking of developing the area, believe it was in the 1920's he died.

It's ironic that a trailer park community sits next to the property now, the palm trees are huge, beautiful. The estate had two roads leading to the actual mansion, you can follow them in the aerial shot to the house, sits to the right.

You can still see the foundations of the house on GoogleEarth, there is a business that sits behind the location of the actual mansion.

TeleWhlrFrtVw6-1.jpg

Edited by NenaE
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Regarding the Simms Estate on Wayside drive. I know in the early 1970's it was used as a haunted house for a church group. Large structure with out buildings. The house had an elevator, basement and I think 3 stories. Does anyone have pictures or links to more detail on the home in it's prime? I know at one point it was featured in the Houston Country Club Newsletter, but the links to old issues are no longer active.

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Welcome to HAIF, Wallingford! and thanks for the personal stories. Wish I could have walked through those gems.

I just wrote to the Houston Country Club Place Association, yesterday, to ask why the archives aren't available. Was referred to a second source. I asked if they were making a handbook, I would love to get ahold of those papers again. The historian get great work, not only on the neighborhood, but the whole surrounding area. I'll let everyone know if or when I hear something.

I had no idea that Simms Estate was there, I grew up in the 1960's, passed the location many times.Dinner Bell was a frequently visited restaurant, even when I was grown.

No one in my family ever mentioned it (4 generations- East End) or the huge house that still stands, in Forest Hill subdivision, on Pasadena St.

Edited by NenaE
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  • 3 years later...

Unreal, I just went back in time (jaw drop).

1974-75 Best I remember, we pulled up our catering trucks to the back and brought in that delicious barbecue from (Lenox BBQ on Harrisburg) They were having some kind of big fancy affair that evening. The dining area was humongous with white linens on all the tables and candelabra throughout. Big bay windows with expensive drapery wrapped around the place with fantastic views of the golf course and wooded area. When we walked on the big porch it seemed like you were walking on the deck of an ocean liner. The best part was the high brow crowd that engulfed the place. My job was being dressed to the nines and making sure drinks were full. There was a live orchestra playing on the outside. The place echoed with the big crowds voices. Seems like a dream now.

 

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  • 2 years later...
On 9/24/2011 at 11:43 AM, NenaE said:

"Are you sure this was not at Telephone and Wheeler instead of Telephone and Winkler? I know about the house at Telephone and Wheeler with the circular drive and Palm trees. It is next to the Houston Parks and Recreation building" ...isuredid's post, a while ago. post #8, above.

 

isuredid was right about the location, Telephone and Wheeler, here's an aerial shot. I'm wondering if that wasn't Mr. MacGregors estate. Does anyone know? His wife donated the land nearby for a park.Griggs Rd. is in the top left corner, above the estate. This is very close to Riverside Terrace. Says at the time of MacGregor's death, he was thinking of developing the area, believe it was in the 1920's he died.

It's ironic that a trailer park community sits next to the property now, the palm trees are huge, beautiful. The estate had two roads leading to the actual mansion, you can follow them in the aerial shot to the house, sits to the right.

You can still see the foundations of the house on GoogleEarth, there is a business that sits behind the location of the actual mansion.

TeleWhlrFrtVw6-1.jpg

NenaE-I can't see the pix you posted and I am looking at Google maps aerial view of Telephone and Wheeler. Can you tell me where the foundations of the house are? I admit I have the worst eyesight. I can't even see the palm trees. I do believe I see the roads ?! Help please!

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Telephone Rd. & Wheeler (yr. 1944 - b/w image & yr. 2011 - color image) source: GoogleEarth. 

The estate sat in the middle of these aerial photos. Follow the circle driveway up from bottom of photos. Palm trees sat near the estate entrance off of Wheeler. Recent (Year 2017) GoogleEarth image shows a park on the land, with a soccer field (guessing) at the location of the previous residential foundation. Note that I have rotated the photos, house would have faced east. 

Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 1.29.28 PM.jpg

Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 1.30.59 PM.jpg

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