Bellaire says goodbye to historic yellow house
The Evelyn’s Park Conservancy board president says it was a tough call, but the historic yellow house at the park had to be torn down and a similar structure will be rebuilt in its stead.
The building had previously been the Teas family home and was built in 1910. It was to be converted into a café in the park.
Evelyn’s Park is located on a 5-acre tract of land at 4400 Bellaire Blvd. formerly the site of Teas Nursery. The Jerry and Maury Rubenstein Foundation donated the land to the city with the provision it be used for a park and named after their mother, Evelyn.
“It was an extremely hard call to make. The original intent was to keep it and make it an integral part of the park’s design. We realized keeping it would be challenging once we began to look at it more in depth,” Patricia King-Ritter, president of the conservancy, told the Chronicle.
The house was demolished on July 28.
According to King-Ritter, the conservancy board made the decision to demolish the yellow house when it was determined that updating in the present and maintaining in the long term would be cost prohibitive.
“We have to be good stewards of the city’s money,” she said.
Bellaire voters in 2013 approved selling $5 million in bonds to help support construction of phase 1, which included remodeling the yellow house and converting it into a café.
The Conservancy kicked in another $1.36 million to cover the total cost of $6.36 million for the entirety of phase 1.
In a July 27 blog post, KingRitter says the Conservancy board and the city worked hard to save the original structure.
That work has included flea
removal, bee removal, repairing water damage and removing asbestos.
“The city, Conservancy and building committee explored every possible avenue to incorporate and then save the existing structure. The original plans required integrating new systems into an existing, old structure which is significantly challenging in the best of circumstances. Throughout this process the long-term maintenance and durability of the structure were in question,” King-Ritter wrote.
King-Ritter said another problem included the requirement to remove or encapsulate the house’s lead paint. This is required to meet current building and safety standards.
“Even with all of these precautions, the building could still present problems,” she said.
King-Ritter said the Conservancy board approached the city council about the problem.
The consensus was that if a new structure could be built in similar style to the current yellow house that it was best to move forward with the demolition.
King-Ritter said, “We are rebuilding it in its essence.”
The demolition and reconstruction is being accomplished within current budget constraints, she said.
“We are confident that the history and character of the yellow house will be completely maintained. The new structure will be rebuilt to duplicate the old; the footprint has not changed and the new structure will be rebuilt to duplicate the old,” she wrote.
King-Ritter said there were doubts about the longevity of the yellow house and that the Conservancy wanted to build something that would last the next 100 years and provide enjoyment for future generations. She said the conservancy has worked to salvage windows, doors, rafter tails, eve brackets and wood out of the yellow house to repurpose into other park structures.
Roy Gabbay of RG Homes has volunteered to salvage and restore many of the original doors and pieces from the yellow house.
King-Ritter said the Conservancy did receive two complaints about demolishing the house.
“Generally they were about preserving the history,” King-Ritter said. She said once people learned of the Conservancy’s efforts to re-purpose elements of the house and the plans to rebuild with a similar footprint and style their concerns were alleviated.
Bellaire director of parks, recreation and facilities Karl Miller said he received one complaint but once he explained the challenges with the old house and plans for the new one the resident seemed content.
King-Ritter’s blog along with an architect’s rendering of the proposed new structure is at evelynspark. org/construction.