Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Historic Heights Buildings
The Heights area, now a mixed use neighborhood just north of downtown, was originally Houston Heights, a working-class suburb to the nearby city of Houston. Nebraska investors, the Omaha & South Texas Land Company, developed the area in 1891 and despite its blue-collar roots, the area boasted several large, expansive homes including several along Heights, the area's main thoroughfare. The remaining grand homes and bungalows are being rapidly replaced by new home construction, which means that what's there today might not be there tomorrow. Before the Heights landscape changes any further, we want to point some of our favorite historic buildings.
All photos courtesy of AIA Houston and Gerald Moorhead, FAIA
10. Heights City Hall and Fire Station
107 W. 12th Street, 1915
The Heights City Hall and Fire Station, designed by A. C. Pigg and completed in 1915, is an early example of consolidated municipal office buildings that were common in Texas in the 1920s. The two-story brick building (seen above) currently houses the Houston Heights Association. After leasing the building for a time, the Association purchased the building from the City of Houston and rehabilitated the structure in the late 1990s.
9. Heights State Bank Building / Rockefeller Hall
3620 Washington Avenue, 1925
The classically detailed and somewhat somber building was designed by Joseph Finger and completed in 1925. In 1978 Taft Architects rehabilitated the Heights State Bank Building into Rockefeller Hall, an intimate and extremely stylish nightclub for J. B. Cirincione and Sanford Criner. Musical notables such as Tito Puente, Tower of Power, Tuck and Patti graced the tiny stage while the club was active. The rehab managed to keep the bank's small scale grandeur intact. The building, which still occasionally used as a special events venue, anchors the intersection of Heights Boulevard and Washington Avenue.
8. Houston Public Library, Heights Branch
1302 Heights Boulevard, 1925
Architect J. M. Glover designed the Heights Branch of the Houston Public Library, in continuous use since its opening in 1925. One of the first two branch libraries in the city, the Italian Renaissance styled building's most dominate exterior element is the entrance bay which was constructed in cast stone. In 1979 Ray Bailey Architects rehabilitated the building and added a new extension. The extension's clean, modern lines compliment the original building.
7. Banta House
119 E. 20th Street, 1918
As with many private homes in the Heights area, the Banta House has been pressed into commercial use and is now an office building. The two-story building was completed in 1918 as a private residence for candy manufacturer Jonathan E. Banta. The brick structure is notable for its two level concrete porch, made of thick, tapered columns and cut out balusters, which wraps around the entire building.
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