Houston

This Is Houston

In Houston, the old continually gives way to the new meaning that much of  what represents its history has been lost.  Smack dab in the middle of this city, however, is an oasis where a few old buildings telling something of a different time have been located.

This is Sam Houston Park surrounded by the tall buildings that are Houston’s skyline and busy freeways.  It is 20 acres first established as a park in 1899.

I’m thinking this sprawling oak tree may be as old as the park.

In addition to its open space where people gather for quiet moments or to play a noontime game, the park tells a story of various segments of society.

There is a modest cottage nestled there

alongside a mansion that belonged to prominent citizens, including William Marsh Rice who founded Rice University.

Another has all the conveniences that were available in 1905.

There is an church built by immigrants in 1891

and a cottage once belonging to freed slaves that dates back to 1823.

Though little is left of the original belongings, the houses contain pieces that are representative of the period in which they were built.  These have been donated or carefully curated by The Heritage Society, a nonprofit that maintains the buildings.  The park itself is a City of Houston Protected Landmark and a State of Texas Historical Site.

Former governor John B. Connally stands tall in its midst welcoming visitors like you and me to Sam Houston Park.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind 

 

Home Decor

Remaking a Carriage House

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA couple of weeks ago we visited one of the few historic neighborhoods in Houston and were privileged to have a peek inside a friend’s home.  Today join me in visiting the beautifully redone carriage house where the owners’ personalities really shine.  They love the country, ranch life and hunting, and that is reflected in every inch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is so much to like here it’s hard to know where to start.  This large open space is a terrific place to chill with family or friends.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bar is so Texas with beautiful woodwork reminiscent of the stairwell in the main house.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy favorite feature here is the hammered copper sink.  It is touches like this that make the carriage house so special.

The second level is dreamy.  Either of these bedrooms would suit me fine,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand this one is a young girl’s dream.

The faux fireplace is more than it seems.  Give it a little tap and the doors open to what would be a wonderful secret hiding place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis cheerful space, part of a fully equipped kitchen, looks out to the pool and green space and is a great example of my friend’s attention to detail.   Note the floor of antique French tiles, the colors of which are repeated throughout the carriage house.

 

Another thing I learned about her is that she especially enjoys doing bathrooms which explains their unique features.

Last but not least is the hubby’s study, a true man cave filled with trophies from his hunting adventures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is nothing not to like in the carriage house the use of which is a far cry from the original.  I think I would be happy spending time here.  How about you?

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Metamorphosis Monday

Inspiration Thursday

Antiques, Decorating, Home Decor, Houston

A Trip Back in Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYears ago I fell in love with a street in the heart of Houston that dates back to the early 1900’s and is one of the very few locations in this big city where historic homes have been preserved.  These elegant residences were designed by some of the foremost architects of the times…John Staub, Birdsall P. Briscoe, Alfred Finn to name a few…and became home to the then elite of Houston.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday, the street remains a gracious oasis, a trip back in time.    The houses, of course, have been updated to include conveniences suitable for today’s living, but the lovely architectural elements remain intact.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo exception is my friend’s home which she is generously allowing me to share.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom the front door 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAto every nook and cranny, there are traces of the past.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe incredible stair rail is Victorian dating back to the 1800’s.  The home’s original owner had it disassembled from another of his locations for installation here.  Its beauty sets the tone for the entire house.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATall ceilings were characteristic of the era as is the beautiful marble fireplace surround.

Informal sunrooms were common, and this one is a cheerful and inviting space that exemplifies how tastefully color is used throughout the house.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhere neutrals keep tight areas from being too dark, there are surprising splashes of color in upholstery choices.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough the spacious kitchen has been completely updated, it retains much of its original feel thanks to the style of the appliances and the cabinets.

Touches like the corner cabinet over the sink and the glass front cabinets do their part to add charm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs in other of the houses on this street, the dining room was designed for entertaining. In this beautifully appointed room, it is easy to imagine elegantly clad men and women arriving by horse drawn carriage for an enchanting evening.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat is wonderful about the home today is that it not only provides glimpses into another time, but it totally reflects the warm character of the people who now live here.  I give total kudos to my friend who has so lovingly decorated it, making every decision as to how it should look and feel.  For all the years I have known her, she has been collecting unique pieces that are now so at home in their space.  She must have known all along where they were waiting to go.

As wonderful as the house is, my favorite space is the carriage house, but that will have to wait for another day.  Do come back.

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Metamorphosis Monday

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Dishing’ It & Diggin’ It

Boating, Travel

The Last Legs

The last legs of the Nova Scotia adventure were to Shelburne and Lunenburg on the south shore.  Luckily, most of what there is to see is near the wharf which made it easy for us to explore.

ShelburneI found it interesting that Shelburne was settled after the American Revolution by people who wanted to remain loyal to the British Crown.  Many of the homes in the old town date back to the late 1700’s and have been quite well maintained.

ShelburneShelburneShelburneOne such house is open for touring, allowing one glimpses of life in times past.  Of course, a table setting caught my eye as did the handwoven overshot coverlets so typical of the period.

ShelburneShelburne is home to a historic dory maker, and seeing those crafts reminded me of many a painting of fishermen in stormy seas.

ShelburneAs lovely as this historic site was, what I liked best was the evening sunset over calm sea and clear sky!

Another 3 hours up the coast to Lunenburg, and by now I’m very glad for the 24 knot speed of our boat .  Much of this journey was off shore meaning there was not very much to see, so it made me happy that we got from place to place much quicker than if we were sailing or had a much slower power boat.

LunenburgAnyway, to Lunenburg, a seemingly popular tourist spot full of color.  There were plenty of shops and eateries, all crowded with summertime visitors.

Fleur de SelLunenburgLunenburgThe best part of this stop was dinner at Fleur de Sel located in the heart of historic Lunenburg.  The French trained chef uses local ingredients to create a tasty menu.  The food was presented beautifully and  just as good as it looked.

A week of travel on a boat is many things from foggy weather to choppy sea to impossible moorings  to breathtaking sunrises and sunsets to meeting new and interesting people.  Though all of it is part of the adventure, I have to confess this was not my favorite trip.  We covered a lot of miles not to have seen more than we did.  To top it all off, we had a little mechanical difficulty at the end of the trip that made docking the boat  more than a little challenging.  Oh well, it’s the doing that counts and makes life continually interesting.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Travel

Galveston Revisited

Galveston Island is an hour’s drive from Houston, making it a quick and easy getaway and providing opportunity for boating and fishing, enjoying fresh seafood, evening sunsets and the nightly light shows generated at nearby Texas City refineries, walking on the beach and feeling the sand between your toes.  In short, Galveston is a nice change of pace from the big city.

In the late 1800’s Galveston had it all: great wealth, a booming economy and bustling population, impressive mansions, all of which changed with the hurricane of 1900 which, to this day, remains the single most catastrophic natural disaster in US history.  It killed more than 6,000 people and demolished a significant portion of the island’s development.  No storm has been worse, but throughout it’s history Galveston’s fate has been closely related to hurricanes.

The most recent was nearly four years ago when Hurricane Ike swept through leaving a swath of destruction and causing flood waters of more than eight feet.  Until today, visiting with my book club, I haven’t returned to Galveston not wanting to see the results of Ike’s wrath.  While there is still evidence of storm damage, Galveston once again shows its resiliency as life there has gradually returned to normalcy.

Shrimp boats operate as usual

and tourist attractions such as the good ship Elissa again welcome visitors.

What struck me as most different on the island’s historic East End was the absence of trees.  Giant live oaks more than 100 years old were gone having been either been uprooted by Ike or dying after standing in salt water for days.

Left in their stead are sculptures carved from the remains.

While an interesting approach to preservation, I’m betting residents would prefer to have their big old trees which provided shade and privacy.

Galveston is a mixed bag.  Natives cling tightly to the island’s one time grandeur which may be one of the reasons it appears stuck in time.

Old homes from before and after 1900 dot the historic district with some being beautifully restored

and others decaying from neglect.    Perhaps fortunately for Galveston, neither its history nor its homes are why it is a popular destination.  It benefits from the appeal of its gulf beaches and tropical allure.

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Random

A Look at Campobello

Lubec to CampobelloAcross the bridge from Lubec, Maine, and barely in Canada is the much visited Campobello Island.  The attractions you ask.  Well, there are not many.

Quoddy HeadOne is the West Quoddy Head Light  accessible only at low tide when you can walk across the rocks to it.

14-150x150There are whales to watch especially this time of year when they are breeding.  They were there, but all I saw were their blows.

CampobelloThe main attraction, however, is Campobello,

the summer cottage of Franklin Roosevelt.

The site is now an international park established during the Johnson years and maintained beautifully by both Canada and the United States.

The cottage is a lovely place with views to Passamaquoddy Bay and open spaces to be explored.

dining roomInside, the house is simple but comfortable

game roomwith spacious areas for a large family.

 

There are 18 bedrooms  that accommodated the Roosevelt family and their entourage.

masterIt was in this master bedroom that FDR one morning awoke in great pain and immobile, unexpectedly stricken by polio.  He lay here for five weeks before being transported  by boat to Eastport, Maine, and then by train to New York.  As the story is told, this was one of his last visits to his beloved Campobello, an island where he had spent time since he was one.

 

Inside one is transported to another era, but the cottage is so well presented it seems as though someone could be living there today.

Visiting Campobello is a real treat in that it gives one a glimpse of a family’s enjoyment of place as well as into our country’s history.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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