Uncovering the Beauty of Rosecroft

The Eastwood house was a wreck when Santos Diaz first saw it in 2004. “It had no floor, no sheet rock, no nothing,” the general contractor recalled. But the more he explored, the more he saw “a diamond in the rough.” Scraping interior paint, he went through 15 or 16 layers until he saw a spec of wood.

“I heard the wood tell me: ‘Get me out. Please get me out. I am beautiful.’”

The house would also reveal its beauty in the windows, the doors and more. “It kept expressing itself,” he said.

Diaz obsessed over the restoration to the point of irritating his subcontractors from whom he demanded perfection: “If you don’t like it, get the hell out of here,” he once said.

rosecroft-8

The sunny Arts & Crafts style bungalow looks to me like a Frank Lloyd Wright house on a quiet middle-class street, although technically it’s not a Frank Lloyd Wright style home. Architectural historian Stephen Fox described the house as a Swiss chalet Arts & Crafts style design, which bears some resemblance to the Prairie style, Frank Lloyd Wright’s version of Arts & Crafts.

It was built in 1916 by artist Charles Sherman who moved here from California where the Arts & Crafts style was popular, wrote Linda Barth in Houston House & Home in 2005: “The bungalow’s pared-down, back to nature style was a rebellion against the stifling conventions of Victorian society and its architecture.” Such homes typically left the interior wood unpainted, and this one has lots of fir inside.

rosecroft-6

Sherman named his house “Rosecroft,” inscribing the word over the car port. He may have taken the name from Rosecroft Gardens, a botanical park in Point Loma, Calif., Barth wrote, or it might have been the name of a California apartment complex Sherman once lived in.

rosecroft-7

The home’s owner Carl Lindahl, who shares Rosecroft with his partner Gail Cooper, bought the house in 2004. It holds thousands of his books. A professor of folklore at the University of Houston, he has strived to furnish the home in a way that honors Diaz’s restoration.

Some of Lindahl’s decorative touches accidentally mirror fashions that prevailed when the house was built. When he first moved in, he set a Navajo and Hopi pot on opposite ends of the living room mantel. Years later, he said, he was surprised to learn from a visiting friend, the folklorist Henry Glassie, that an Arts & Crafts style decorator’s magazine from the early twentieth century recommended the exact same decorative touch.

The sunroom, in the front of the house, has withstood hurricanes and other severe weather over the past 100 years. The room has a frieze of roses painted on each wall.

rosecroft-1

rosecroft-2

Rosecroft, winner of a Good Brick Award from the Houston Preservation Society, “makes me happy every day,” Lindahl said. The same is true for Diaz who still visits the house and gives tours to friends and family from out of town.

rosecroft-3
Santos Diaz at the spot where he first scraped numerous layers of paint to find wood.

Diaz recalled how much work he and his crew put into the house. For example, its sewer system was not connected to the city’s, having relied on a backyard septic tank.

As owner of a restoration business, Joeys 4Starr, Diaz has restored hundreds of houses, “but none has shown me the beauty of Rosecroft,” he said. “This is my baby, my pride and joy.”

Bonus pictures

rosecroft-5
Tile work on the outside
rosecroft-9
The framed art on the wall is a copy of a Frank Lloyd Wright design. Hopi, Peruvian and Navajo artifacts are displayed on the mantel.
rosecroft-4
One of the sunroom´s two swivel stain glass windows.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s