Houston Victorian Razed for "Victorian Classic"

Posted on: July 26th, 2007 by Margaret Foster

Detail of the overgrown Doyle House, which was bulldozed on July 18, 2007. (Greater Houston Preservation Alliance)Last week, a day before a rally to protest the possible demolition of a 101-year-old Victorian in Houston, a local builder tore down the house to make way for a new Victorian-style mansion.

At a meeting earlier this month, local architect Harry James had told the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance that he would be willing to sell the house for $900,000—more than triple its 2007 appraisal of $290,000.

"It came out that he would be willing to sell it at that much higher price, but, as it turns out, the demolition permit had been issued that week," says David Bush, the alliance's director of programs and information.

James, who did not return phone calls to Preservation Online, has razed several other houses in the Heights area to make way for what his Web site calls "Victorian classics."

The Doyle family, which had owned the century-old house since it was built, did little to maintain it and objected to a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. (The city had determined the house eligible for a listing about 20 years ago, according to Bush.)

After the last Doyle died three years ago, several neighbors wanted to buy the house. But the estate sold it to James instead.

"It's frustrating because we had people who were looking at the house but couldn't get the estate to call them back," Bush says. "It never went on the market."

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