Glenbrook Valley was designated as an Historic District in 2011. It is significant for several reasons. First, it is an intact, planned community that includes the developer’s complete original concept with all of its variety of architectural styles. It is important for its associations with the Lubbock-Allen Ranch, and with the planning firm of Hare and Hare. It is also significant for its Ranch and Mid-Century Modern architecture. Many homes were designed by prominent Houston architects. The neighborhood was a showcase for innovations in home building in the 1950s. It received national attention when it was built. Many people visited Glenbrook Valley when it was featured in the 1954 and 1956 Parade of Homes tours. Finally, many of Glenbrook Valley’s early residents were Italian-American professionals. The neighborhood is significant for its association with those notable Houstonians.
Glenbrook Valley was also known in the 1950s and 1960s for its Christmas light displays. At that time, large holiday light displays were still a novelty. So many Houstonians came to see the Glenbrook Valley Christmas lights that off-duty police officers were hired to handle the traffic. The neighborhood still presents awards every year for the best Christmas light displays.
Significant Historic Buildings and Sites
1954 Parade of Homes Model Home (7919 Glenview) was built in 1954. It was one of six original model homes in the neighborhood. Developer Fred McManis built this “ultra modern design” with a sunken living room, all-walnut kitchen, and intercom system. The entire rear wall of the house is made up of floor-to-ceiling windows.
Anthony and Dot Caliva House (8002 Arletta Drive) and George and Mary Elizabeth Caliva House (8102 Glencrest Avenue) were identical when they were built in 1958. Both are striking one-story Modern houses with floor-to-ceiling windows, flagstone walls, and diagonal columns. Inside, a flagstone wall with two-sided fireplace separates the living room and den. The living room and dining room are sunken, with vaulted ceilings.
Nicastro House (7831 Santa Elena Drive) was designed by architect Dorothy Andrews. It is a one-story Ranch with Neoclassical exterior details. It was constructed in 1965 by Leon Campise and Mr. Nicastro. Features include Italian marble terrazzo floors, two kitchens (one electric, one gas), three bedrooms with ensuite baths, and a detached office suite.
Prebble House (7711 Lakewind Street) was built in 1959 and purchased by the Prebble family in 1961. It is a dramatic two-story Modern home. It features interior and exterior redwood trim, poured terrazzo floors, cove lighting, clerestory windows, and vaulted ceilings. Extensive windows provide views of this 36,000-square foot lot next to the bayou.
Richardson Nelson House (7911 Santa Elena Drive) was built to blend into its setting on a wooded corner lot. The architects were Symond Doughtie and Jack Porterfield. It was built for Elmer and Myrtle Richardson in 1955 and later owned by C. H. and Peggy Nelson. It is a brick and cedar-sided Modern home. A sloping porte-cochere is supported by steel beams that dramatically extend the roofline toward the ground. A lounge was added above the garage in 1960. The lounge features a boomerang-shaped martini bar, boomerang-shaped stage with a built-in movie screen, a hidden movie projector, and the original 1960 furniture and décor.
Johnson House (8114 Stony Dell Court) also has a lounge. The house was built for a local builder and lumber company owner, John Johnson. It was designed by architect James V. Womack. Mr. Johnson is said to have personally selected every piece of wood used throughout the house. The lounge and dining room are both designed in the 1930s Hollywood regency style with scalloped, cove-lit ceilings. The kitchen, living room, and courtyard with built-in barbecue pit were also designed for entertaining.
Muscanere House (7843 Santa Elena) was designed by Norman Edwards. It was built in 1956 for Sam and Lily Ann Muscanere. The custom-built Modern house occupies nearly 6,000 square feet on a double lot. It features wide eaves with cantilevered gables, and a massive fireplace.
Some houses in Glenbrook Valley include chapels or prayer nooks, reflecting their Italian owners’ Catholic faith. These include:
The Caliva family. George and Anthony Caliva owned King Construction. Their company built some of the most prominent homes in Glenbrook Valley. Anthony and his wife Dot lived at 8002 Arletta Drive, one of the most striking Modern ranch homes in the neighborhood. George and his wife Mary Elizabeth were often guests of Johnny Carson, the host of the Tonight Show. Carson also reportedly visited their home at 8102 Glencrest Avenue. George and Anthony’s brother, Sam Caliva, had several children and grandchildren who lived in the neighborhood and owned businesses.
The Mandola family. Joseph Mandola owned Mandolas Brothers Grocery in Third Ward. His brother Roy owned the Hinky Dinky Grocery Store, also in Third Ward. Joseph’s son Frank opened Mandola’s Italian Deli on Broadway Street in Glenbrook Valley in the 1970s. Frank and his wife Margie, who still own and operate the deli, moved it to the Eastwood area in the 1980s.
The Carrabba family. Johnny Carrabba, son of John and Rose Mandola Carrabba, started Carrabba’s Italian Grill in 1986 with his uncle Damian Mandola. Today Carrabba’s Italian Grill has grown into a nationwide restaurant chain. Johnny’s sister Bessilyn Carrabba Piazza and her husband operate the Italian Café on NASA Parkway in Seabrook, Texas.
Steve Tyrell is a Grammy award-winning American jazz musician. Born Stephen Louis Bilao III, Tyrell grew up on Glen Dell Court in Glenbrook Valley. He worked as a musician and producer with many of the top names in music throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
John P. Agnew was the president of Oshman’s sporting goods. His wife, Elizabeth Bell Agnew, was the owner of the Agnew Beauty Academy in the Glenbrook Valley area.
Paul Boesch was involved in professional wrestling for more than 40 years. His career began after returning from his Army service in World War II. After a serious car accident in 1947, he became a ringside announcer, first on the radio and then on television. He was a wrestling promoter from 1967 to 1987 and was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1995.
Colonel Robert Wayne and Captain Dwayla Wayne were both decorated military veterans. Colonel Wayne was a combat pilot who flew hundreds of missions and received numerous awards for his service in Korea and Vietnam. Captain Wayne received the Bronze Star for her work mapping Russia with satellite images.
Elmer and Myrtle Richardson owned and managed Rangers Drive-In and the Oasis Drive-In, and owned Drive-In Properties, which built and leased Drive-In Restaurants. The upstairs lounge of their home on Santa Elena Drive was a popular location for society parties. After purchasing the Richardsons’ home, C.H. and Peggy Nelson, owners of A-1 Fire and Safety Equipment, hosted many parties in “The Kit-Kat Lounge.”
Ted Kipperman was the owner of Kipperman’s Pawn Shop and drive-thru Wedding Chapel, where happy couples could “Just Drive Through And Say ‘I Do’.”
Miguel “Mike” Barajas is a news anchor on radio and television in Houston.