By day, the Heights hums with that combination of weariness and impatience unique to old places, nowhere more so than here on its biggest boulevard. But then night falls, and with it the years. The street quiets, a hint of wind rustles through the live oaks, and you find yourself leaning off the porch expecting, or maybe hoping, to see Atticus Finch coming up the sidewalk.
But soon enough it’s time to go back inside, back to the joys and challenges, back to the lights that will burn later than any other on the street, back to Houstonia. It’s an odd place for a magazine to be born, and yet oddly wonderful too, the perfect spot in which to spend a few months thinking long and hard about where our city’s been and where it’s going.
Once visited by electric streetcars on the widest boulevard in the town’s first suburb, the house that built Houstonia—a big, lumbering 1902 Victorian—was born smiling, as if it alone knew what Spindletop portended. And though its fortunes and confidence would rise and fall dramatically over the ensuing decades, the house would never stop being a home, which is to say a place where joys must be shared and challenges met, a welcoming place of ambition and responsibility carefully nurtured.
In the room over the garage, say, where these days you’ll find our design director, Chris Skiles, and his team. They’re a troop so rowdy they can be heard from the street, when not bopping to music from headphones, like the teenagers that some of them look like and some of them nearly are.
Or in a tiny room off the main stairway, where John Lomax sequesters himself while conducting one of the dozens of interviews that a Lomax story requires, or on the cozy second floor, where explosions from the ad sales department—of celebrations or expletives, depending on the day—are frequent.
Off the kitchen, where Chris’s wife Sabrina, our event manager, spends her days searching for the impossible, from Houstonia crawfish bibs to red Viewmasters to 147 boxes of Shipley’s glazed. In the living room, and the dining room and the first floor cupola, where all the editors and writers and producers work to exhaustion in hopes of giving this city a magazine it deserves.
A motley crew, yes, but it all makes sense from the porch, where one of us is usually pacing, especially these days, trying to figure out how we can get Houstonia into your hands, trying to figure out how it might come to reflect the dreams and concerns of such a gigantic city, one vastly bigger and more complicated than the one this house was born into, trying to figure out how we might live up to the promise of this moment. Luckily, it’s a porch made for pacing.
Whenever Robb Walsh isn’t there, of course, shucking oysters and educating everyone within earshot on the sweet, special divinity that is Gulf shellfish.