Jan Rynda Greer said she and her husband, Tyson, spent almost a year away from their well-known and historic home in the hills.
Before leaving Houston for Stavanger, Norway earlier this month, they received something of a parting gift.
The Greers were selected to receive a Good Brick Award from the non-profit organization Preservation Houston in recognition of their work restoring the turreted Victorian mansion at 1802 Harvard St., which was built in the late 1800s and also known as Mansfield House. They purchased the four-story, 3,879-square-foot home in March 2019, moved in six months later, and completed renovations inside the home and on the surrounding property while maintaining its historic character.
“Very, very delighted to receive a Good Brick Award,” Jan said in a text message from Norway. “It’s ‘the one’ I really wanted because I have so much respect for Preservation Houston.”
The owners of 16 historic properties across the city were recognized this year for being good stewards of their homes, places of worship or buildings, ranging from industrial structures to those at Rice University and Hermann Park. The Mansfield House was one of two Heights properties to be honored, the other being a pair of 99-year-old neighboring bungalows on Tulane Street that were restored by Neal and Karen Dikeman and their real estate investment firm, Old Growth Ventures.
The Dikemans and Old Growth Ventures also received a Good Brick for the rehabilitation of a shotgun house in Freedmen’s Town that was built in 1913. Nancy J. Simien received one for the restoration of a cottage-style Victorian in Near Northside which was built in 1907.
David Bush, executive director of Preservation Houston, said the 2022 Good Brick Awards were announced about a month ago and are scheduled to be presented at an awards ceremony scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on March 4 at the River Oaks Country Club. . The winners were selected by a panel of seven jurists, who were a group of former Good Brick winners, preservation professionals and neighborhood leaders chosen by Preservation Houston.
“For all (the winners), there is a common thread and the jury considers the magnitude of the project,” Bush said. “It can’t just be, ‘Paint the place.'”
Bush said the Dikemans’ neighboring homes at 1217 and 1219 Tulane St. were a no-brainer for the price, as they were added to the National Register of Historic Places last December. The property also offers four different rental units, as garage apartments were added behind each one-bedroom home as part of the restoration.
Neal Dikeman said last year he was renting the homes for $2,450 a month.
“Part of it was the multi-family aspect,” Bush said. “These are affordable housing for the neighborhood. It was important.
Sentimentality played a part in the Good Brick Award for the Harvard Street Victorian mansion, Bush said, because it was previously owned by Preservation Houston co-founder Bart Truxillo, who lived in the house for 30 years before his death in 2017 .
The Greers, who have caretakers who stay in the house while they are away, have made a series of changes to the house without modernizing it. Among other changes, they installed an antique sink and faucet in the kitchen, created a second bathroom for their two children by moving a tub and sink from other parts of the house, and installed a three-story laundry chute. .
The restorations were completed despite homes flooding during Tropical Storm Imelda in September 2019, according to Jan.
“It’s one of the few original great houses left,” Bush said. “It’s pretty much iconic in the heights.”