Property Watch

Two Restored Bungalows in the First Ward

Local couple relishes bringing back the historic charm of Arts District homes.

By Melissa Dalton April 27, 2023

Dominic Yap and Lin Chong know old houses. The husband-and-wife owners of FW Heritage, and First Ward residents themselves (in an 1885 Queen Anne), started saving and restoring the century-old homes in their neighborhood about 10 years ago, when they saw a teardown happen nearby. “We just didn’t understand how a house built over a hundred years ago that had withstood hurricanes, floods, and World War II could be dragged kicking and screaming into a landfill,” Chong says. 

Whether they’re reproducing ornamental porch brackets on a Victorian, or unearthing original shiplap in a bungalow, the couple relishes bringing such historic details back to life rather than trashing them, and have won several preservation awards in the course of their efforts.

The First Ward was formed in 1840 and is one of the city’s original four wards. Located near Market Square, Buffalo Bayou, and two railroad lines, its early residents were railroad workers or shopkeepers, making the prevailing housing stock mostly modest Queen Anne cottages and Craftsman bungalows built between 1890 and 1930. As Yap and Chong saw firsthand, many of those houses in recent years have been torn down to make way for townhouses, but the ones that remain have been deemed “superb examples of Texas folk architecture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,” says the city’s historic preservation guidelines.

Take these two bungalows sitting side-by-side on Alamo Street, which are the 29th and 30th houses to be saved by FW Heritage. Both were built around 1925, and are modest in scale, clocking in around 1500 square feet, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Now painted cheery colors and fully updated, the couple worked with architect David Jefferis of Grayform Architecture to respectfully restore both while also readying them for more modern residents. As such, a studs-out remodel on each gave them a new kitchen, bathrooms, mechanical systems, storage areas, and small rear additions, to create a comfortable primary en suite with walk-in closet and historically accurate wood windows.

The new finishes—like custom cabinetry, granite counters, engineered wood floors, and bathroom tile—charmingly comingle with the historic features. For instance, in 1507 Alamo Street, the brick chimney stack was exposed, as was the shiplap wall in the kitchen. There, the team also restored the original china cabinet as a focal point.

The bathroom and closet received salvaged stained glass windows, while much of the trim, woodwork, and doors were reused. (“Don’t throw old wood out!” could be a mantra for the company.) The finishing touch is the front porch, always with FW Heritage’s signature red door, as well as a pale blue–painted ceiling in the Southern tradition of scaring off spiders from building webs.

In recent years, the First Ward has become known as a thriving Arts District. In this bungalow, the art is a piece of the house’s history, as the couple saved two sections of wallpaper found underneath the old Sheetrock during demo and had them framed and hung in the living room.

Listing Stats: 

House 1 (Yellow):

Address: 1507 Alamo Street, Houston, TX 77007

Size: 1,483 square feet/3 bedroom/2 bath 

List Date: 3/9/2023

List Price: $628,000

Listing Agent: Pei Lin Chong, Walzel Properties


House 2 (Green):

Address: 1505 Alamo Street, Houston, TX 77007

Size: 1,507 square feet/3 bedroom/2 bath 

List Date: 3/23/2023

List Price: $628,000

Listing Agent: Pei Lin Chong, Walzel Properties

Filed under
Show Comments