The iconic four-story mansion was built 124 years ago in 1896 when Grover Cleveland was president, and Coca-Cola was invented.
The Heights has endured and changed, and this house has seen it all. The century-old, castle house started to decay recently, but the Greer family is working to preserve its charm.
I have one special story for y’all.— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) August 18, 2020
Going *inside* one of the oldest Heights homes — this grand beauty built in 1896–when Hou Heights was its OWN city, separate from #Houston.
If you’re familiar w #TheHeights, you probbbbs know this house. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/4ETtFTyoKL
"We're project people. This is what we like to do," Jan Greer told ABC13's Courtney Fischer while sitting two stories up on top of the railing of her white front porch.
The Greers said they bought the house about two years ago, so they could renovate it with respect. They refused to see history forgotten or destroyed.
"We just loved everything about it," Greer said. "I love learning about the prior owner."
That prior owner was the man responsible for protecting all historical homes in The Heights. He was Bart Truxillo, the same man who helped found Preservation Houston and The Heights Historic District in the seventies. He lived in the house for nearly 50 years.
DYK, the man who lived here for nearly 50 yrs is actually the reason so many historic buildings have been saved around #Houston?— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) August 18, 2020
Bart Truxillo was one of the ppl who founded the @preshou — and he protected this Victorian beauty from getting bulldozed. #abc13 #abc13plus pic.twitter.com/Gpf55C1mav
"It's really the last one of its kind in Houston. It's the last of the really high style Victorians," said David Bush with Preservation Houston.
Greer knew she had to bring the house back to life. The roof had holes. The electricity system needed rewiring. The plumbing would get a complete overhaul. The inside could use sprucing up to house a family of four. Some of the rooms got a coat of paint. The primary bath and kitchen were completely changed.
Truxillo died a few years ago and the lovely Greer family moved in.— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) August 18, 2020
They knew they had a MASSIVE project on their hands. Parts of the 124yo house really needed work.
That didn’t scare them ONE bit. #abc13 #abc13plus pic.twitter.com/in9bpiXbiQ
A fourth-floor loft, in which a disco ball once hung in the turret window, became a playroom for Greer's two young sons.
The "after" photos reveal a comfortable, stunning home, but the renovations were a huge struggle.
The Greers poured time, money, swear, tears into resurrecting this stunning home....renovating with respect to its 1896 originality.— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) August 18, 2020
The Victorian details saved now REALLY SHINE! #abc13 #abc13plus pic.twitter.com/3KytcsAzrt
In September, Hurricane Imelda hit and flooded the basement, as if water had poured in through every window on every floor. The damage was expensive and draining.
"Every day you go, 'Okay, what's today like?'" Greer said.
Okay also...this house has a BASEMENT, y’all! In #Houston!— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) August 18, 2020
So, as you can guess, rain is a challenge. In the middle of their reno, #Imelda hit. Yikes. The flooding was rough. #abc13 #abc13plus pic.twitter.com/yJgZtqCn1B
When COVID-19 hit, the family made the tough decision to have crews stop working inside the house to keep everyone safe. Despite their cautionary measures, Greer got coronavirus.
"I think I'm the proof in the pudding. You have to wear a mask. You have to keep your distance, and then, you still need to lock it down when you can," she said.
And then... #COVID.— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) August 18, 2020
Reno had to be out on pause again. Jan Greer (project manager extraordinarie/ home owner) got coronavirus herself. Family had to quarantine. It was scary. #abc13 #abc13plus pic.twitter.com/Jk97ZyXqKQ
The family quarantined, but while they were recovering, something happened on the front porch that Greer wasn't prepared for: the pandemic brought people together.
But then — something incredible happened. #COVID brought fellow neighbors together. No, not physically. Socially distanced, of course. More than the Greer family could have ever imagined.— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) August 18, 2020
I’ll explain on #abc13 @ 5:45, 6:45 this morning! And full story online soon! pic.twitter.com/1jWVxn05ud
"We met more neighbors, had more conversations than we ever had," Greer said. "We got a chance to associate ourselves with the house, to talk to neighbors, and we made so many friends so fast."
"We've gotten back to a time when people value their front porch," Bush said. "That happened long before (COVID), but now, it's even more of a factor."
Greer knows this home is special, but she also knows it's just a house. It's her neighbors and stories of the past that make The Heights a Houston treasure.
"It's enjoyable to make community history," she said. "And you don't do that without the community. You just don't."
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