Preservation Houston Lets Us Revisit Houston's Past During Good Brick Tour

The building at 3515 Fannin is one of the last surviving houses in this part of Houston.
The building at 3515 Fannin is one of the last surviving houses in this part of Houston.
Photo by Hester + Hardaway
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For each Magic Island or Astrodome that has been saved from the wrecking ball, there are dozens of other iconic Houston properties that live on only through photos and memories.

Preservation Houston, our city's non-profit historic preservation advocacy and education group, understands the value in saving older structures. Its annual Good Brick Awards recognizes outstanding historic preservation projects, and hopefully will inspire a few others to take the journey.

One Houston couple has gone down that road and emerged victorious. Criminal defense attorneys Mark and Nicole Hochglaube were in search of office space and they could see the hidden beauty in the old Adkins Architectural Antiques store in Midtown, so they purchased the crumbling property and transformed it into home base for the Hochglaube & DeBorde law firm.

While Adkins was almost a hoarder's paradise with its inventory covering every nook and cranny, Mark Hochglaube says he could still see through the clutter to notice that the wooden pocket doors were functional. "That’s a pretty good sign that the structure is OK. If anything goes wrong with the foundation the pocket doors won’t close."

But the story actually begins in 1912 when the property was built in what then was considered to be the affluent South End. Ten years later it was converted to the Maria Boswell Flake "Home for Old Women," providing safe haven for women who either had limited funds or no family.

"It translated pretty well to office space. The fact that it had been originally designed as a living facility for older women, each woman had their own private area where they lived," says Hochglaube.

The fireplace at 3515 Fannin after the restoration.
The fireplace at 3515 Fannin after the restoration.
Photo by Paul Hester

Renovation costs approached $1.5 million and took two years to complete, including a bumpy few months after Tropical Storm Harvey, but the finished project is stunning and Houstonians will get a chance to tour the property, as well as four others, during this weekend's 2019 Good Brick Tour.

"It was an expensive process and certainly a long process. A lot of people told us that the money and the time you’re spending won’t bother you once you’re in it. That's turned out to be true," says Hochglaube, who adds that they were able to take advantage of available state and federal historic preservation tax credits.

The craftsmanship that was used in century-old homes is difficult to duplicate with today's construction processes, and some of the architecture that's been preserved includes a large fireplace, stained glass, beveled glass windows, parquet floors, carved columns and a paneled staircase.

"We kept as much as we could from the original bathrooms but that was mainly just the flooring," says Hochglaube, adding that the floor has an interesting tile-like appearance that just isn't seen anymore. "We kept that, we kept the medicine cabinet from when it was originally there, but the rest of it we had to take out. We tried to make the style of the faucets and shower period correct; it's not antique, but it fits."

The stained glass windows at 3515 Fannin have been preserved.
The stained glass windows at 3515 Fannin have been preserved.
Photo by Jessica Long

While the property at 3515 Fannin has pretty much stayed in use during most of its lifetime, one area that remained undeveloped until now is the third floor attic space.

"We call it the war room. We’ve had a couple of meetings up there. If you have a big case and you need to spread out, it’s a relaxing enough place," says Hochglaube, who also tells us they've preserved some of the original infrastructure to show the building's character. "We kept in place all the old wiring, we added our own wiring, but you can see the old knobs and it’s pretty crazy to see how they did it. There’s no back-up."

The 2019 Good Brick Award winners, though not necessarily part of this weekend's tour, include:

Jay Hurt for the restoration and sympathetic addition to the Joseph C. Brown House (1929) in the Shadow Lawn Historic District

Nancy and Jim Butler for the restoration of the Jack R. Tenison House (1935) in River Oaks

FW Heritage, LLC for the rescue and restoration of the Frederick C. Bammel House (c. 1895) in the High First Ward Historic District

Jon Deal and Todd Johnson for the rehabilitation and repurposing of the Riviana Rice silos (1960) in First Ward as SITE Gallery Houston at The Silos

Houston Methodist Hospital for the relocation and restoration of the Extending Arms of Christ mosaic (1963) in the Texas Medical Center

Congregation Beth Israel for the restoration of the original chandelier in the Temple of Rest Mausoleum (1935) at Beth Israel Cemetery

The Martha Peterson Award: Harris County for the restoration of The Rebirth of Our Nationality mural (1973) in the East End

The President’s Award: Harriet & Truett Latimer for their outstanding service and contributions to historic preservation in Houston and Texas

Inside 4 Shadow Lawn you'll find an octagonal dining room with hand-painted wallpaper depicting scenes from Hermann Park.
Inside 4 Shadow Lawn you'll find an octagonal dining room with hand-painted wallpaper depicting scenes from Hermann Park.
Photo by Julie Soefer
Stops on the 2019 Good Brick Tour:

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph C. Brown House (1929), 4 Shadow Lawn, 2019 Good Brick Award winner

Mr. and Mrs. Albert L. Ladner House (1941), 3362 Del Monte Drive, City of Houston Protected Landmark, 2012 Good Brick Award winner

Mr. and Mrs. Frederick C. Bammel House (1895), 1819 Sabine Street, City of Houston Protected Landmark, 2019 Good Brick Award winner

Coulter-Sweeney House (1876), 2109 Kane Street, National Register of Historic Places, 2011 Good Brick Award winner

Maria Boswell Flake Home (1912), 3515 Fannin Street, National Register of Historic Places, 2019 Good Brick Award winner

The 2019 Good Brick Tour is scheduled for November 2-3 from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For information, call 713-510-3990 or visit preservationhouston.org/2019-good-brick-tour. $25 to $30.

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