Mid-Century Modern Glenbrook Valley Seeks Historic Designation
by: Gail Delaughter, August 2, 2010 10:08:00 am
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It was the latest in space-age living fifty years ago, and now residents of one Houston neighborhood are working to hold on to its unique character. KUHF's Gail Delaughter visited Glenbrook Valley, a cluster of midcentury homes that could become Houston's newest historic district.
A 1954 article in the Houston Chronicle describes six model homes in Glenbrook Valley, promoting the homes as "designed for modern living" with open floor plans, air conditioning, the latest in appliances, and spacious yards. Glenbrook Valley eventually grew to over a thousand homes, and today it's on track to become the first post-World War II neighborhood in Texas to achieve historic district status. Civic Club vice-president Shannon McNair's 1958 home still has its original space-age light fixtures and intercom system, along with a sweeping floor plan designed for entertaining.
longer version of the interview:
"It's very Palm Springs, not a lot of houses are shaped like this. It's an "L" that surrounds a pool, and that's one of the reasons I loved it, too. The minute I walked in it just felt very California, very Palm Springs, something very unusual for this climate."
Tucked away along Sims Bayou near Hobby Airport, Glenbrook Valley isn't as old as some of Houston's neighborhoods, but McNair says it's a big part of the city's history.
"A lot of the significance of this neighborhood, architecture-wise, it was part of the space age, that new age of optimism that we had in this country, going to the moon, the Kennedy era, the Camelot era, the Rat Pack."
For the past several months, Civic Club members have been walking Glenbrook Valley's tree-lined streets, gathering signatures for a historic district petition which now has the names of over fifty one percent of residents. It's a huge effort, says Glenbrook Valley resident Gin Peeler, who says while the response has been mostly positive, some homeowners have questions about what they can do to their property under the historic district designation.
"We're not trying to be inside of peoples' homes. We really are just talking about the character and the nature and the flavor that we can preserve from a street view, make sure that peoples' additions are sympathetic to the context that was there before, and preserve the general culture .
Also involved in the effort is City Councilman James Rodriguez, who says he's gotten questions about what the designation would mean for property values.
"In talking to some of my colleagues that have been involved in other neighborhoods that are going through this, the property values have improved and it actually has protected neighborhoods"
The historic district petition has to go through the planning commission and the city council before it becomes official, and Rodriguez says neighbors have put forward a strong effort.
"They did a lot of research, they did their homework on the actual architectural history of the neighborhood, they just had great knowledge of all the residents, just a catalog of all the wonderful homes there. And so I was really impressed with the knowledge and the excitement."
Right now neighbors are still gathering names for their petition and they hope to get official word in the next few months.
Gail Delaughter KUHF News.
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