Monday, July 12, 2004

Modern Preservation Spirit is Spreading

As many of you know, Houston has been experiencing a surge in the desire to preserve modern architecture. Organizations like Houston Mod have received a great deal of attention both locally and state-wide for their efforts to preserve buildings like the Prudential Building and MacKie and Kamrath's George Mitchell house. Now it looks like that desire is spreading across Texas.

Harlingen, just north of Brownsville and the Texas-Mexico border, has been known in the architectural community as a hidden hotbed of modernist design. A number of prominent architects worked in the valley designing sleek, modern homes from the 40s through the 60s. Even iconic architect, Richard Neutra, designed a house in Brownsville in the 1930s for a Pan Am Executive. The house is considered by many to be the first international style house designed in Texas. The house has been in bad shape for years but recent efforts have energized the Brownsville community to restore this architectural treasure. An article in the Brownsville Herald titled Kreiger House Named to State Endangered List provides some insight. Due to recent efforts, federal grants and nationwide attention will help this house survive the wrecking ball.

The Valley Morning Star recently published an article on the interest in Harlingen's modernist past titled The Modernist Era. It provides some interesting insight into the concentration of modern houses located in Harlingen as well as efforts to save these houses for prosperity.

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