When it was built in 1954 as the county basked in the postwar prosperity, David and Cheryl Bowman's newly-restored home was a testament to American progress — a technically-advanced home that wholly embraced the modern age and its science of living.
There was an advanced kitchen, intercoms in every room and a wall of fully-operable windows that welcomed the sun while fighting off its heat. An open plan allowed public spaces to flow into one another with the busiest of those areas, the living room, set slightly lower than the rest to take advantage of the cool ground during hot Texas summers.
With the help of more than 20 different contractors, the Bowmans brought as many of the original details back to life as possible.
Even the carport was designed with modern conveniences in mind, featuring a wet bar for those "one for the road" days before drunk driving laws gained real teeth.
But like many of its fellow homes in the of Glenbrook Valley — the Houston historic district maintaining one of city's biggest clusters of mid-century residential architecture — the Bowmans' rancher fell victim to the '80s oil bust as older residents departed and the neighborhood fell into disrepair.
"When we first looked at the place, it was a disaster," recalls David Bowman, who purchased the 1,800-square-foot house in 2011 with his wife Cheryl after the couple became captivated with the notion of restoring a piece of postwar modernism.
"There were animal stains everywhere. The hardwood was scratched almost beyond recognition in some spots. We actually suspect that the former tenants may have even been living here without water and electricity for a time."
With the help of many different contractors — all culled from a growing network of restoration specialists used by other Glenbrook Valley preservationists — the Bowmans brought as many of the original details back to life as possible, from lighting fixtures and hardware to flooring and cabinetry.
"Beneath the woo den panels, we found all of this off-white wall paper. When we peeled that away, there was this piece of abstract art measuring about eight by three feet."
"It's amazing how well built these homes were, so we want to keep as much as we can," David laughs. "We sent one of the cracked windows to a contractor, who thought he could open up the unit to replace the glass and weld it back together. Turns out the window units are actually made of airplane aluminum, which is virtually indestructible.
"They certainly don't make them like that anymore."
While removing the '70s wood paneling from the living room walls, the Bowmans uncovered another blast from the past.
"Beneath the wooden panels, we found all of this off-white wall paper," David says. "When we peeled that away, there was this piece of abstract art measuring about eight by three feet that shows a group of people on horseback. We cut the piece from the drywall and have it hanging in a frame now." [See slideshow for the artwork.]
With the bulk of the work complete, David says he's currently attempting to restore the 1950s intercom system, vacuum tubes and all. Then it's onto the wet bar, which some teetotalers converted into a storage shed decades ago.
Interested in more on how Houston history is restored? Check out the city's historic preservation website for real estate listings, advice and tax incentives.