Roger Martin and Life in the Loop


May 10, 2011

Texas Business Climate - Best in Nation

Houston Business Climate - best in nationThe Texas business climate is the best in the natiion, as a recent study just published by Chief Executive.

“More than 500 CEO’s considered a wide range of criteria, from taxation and regulation to workforce quality and living environment, in our annual ranking of the best states for business… It’s the seventh time in seven years running that Texas has led the states, and the seventh year California – to no one’s great surprise – ranked as worst state…

“What CEO’s often seek are areas with consistent policies and regulations that allow them to plan, as well as intangible factors such as a state’s overall attitude toward business and the work ethic of its population.  This is one reason Texas has consistently held the No. 1 position since 2005.  It gets strong marks in all areas important for business creation, and has the second-lowest taxes in the nation. The state has created more jobs than any other—about 250,000 last year. Not surprisingly, it also enjoys the highest inward net migration rate of any state. As a result, Texas gained four Congressional seats…”

By J.P. Donion,, May 3, 2011.  To read the full article, click here...

So a great Texas business climate translates into a strong Houston economy, and that in turn gives us a strong local housing market.

Roger Martin

May 5, 2011

The Clayton Library – A Best Kept Secret

Clayton house, designed by Birdsall Briscoe, houses the genealogical collection of the Houston Public Library SystemThis beautifully-restored, red-brick, Georgian home is another of Houston’s Best Kept Secrets – the Clayton Library of the Houston Public Library system (  Clayton House was built in 1917 and designed by noted Houston architect Birdsall P. Briscoe.  The Clayton Library complex houses the Center for Genealogical Research.

Thousands of researchers from all over the country visit the Clayton Library every month.  They sift through an extensive collection of US and foreign books, CD-ROM’s, microfiche, and a collection of over 5,000 family histories.  There is a branch of the Mormon LDS library, and I’m told that this library is one of the best sources of historical Spanish records.

Just walk into the Family History Room, and browse the stacks for your last name – chances are a book has been written about your ancestors.  These family histories make quirky and interesting reading.  All of us are related, to a greater or lesser degree, to princes, paupers, pastors and horse thieves.  I discovered that I am a distant cousin to the bread-baking Baird family.  My wife is related to three women who were executed during the Salem witch trials.  It is awfully tempting to draw conclusions about our respective families – but I’ve been married long enough to know a really bad idea when it hits me!

The Clayton Library is located at 5300 Caroline, in Houston’s Museum District.  It is about four blocks north of Hermann Park and just four miles from downtown West U.

Roger Martin

April 27, 2011

Julia Ideson Library - Houston's Best Kept Secrets

Julia Ideson LibraryWhen it was first constructed in 1926, the Julia Ideson Library was intended as the centerpiece of a five-building civic center in Downtown Houston.  But then came the Crash and the Great Depression, and those other public buildings were never built.  Today, this Spanish Renaissance building is hemmed in by modern skyscrapers and buildings, including the Jesse Jones Library next door.

This was the central library until the Jesse Jones Library was constructed in 1976.  How well I remember the sweeping marble staircases, whose treads were “dished” by the feet of countless readers.  Then there were the intricately carved balusters; the ornate ceilings; and the WPA-era murals.  Stepping from steel-and-glass contemporary Houston into this library was like stepping back in time.

How fitting, then, that this building is now the repository of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center .  This collection houses over four million photos of Houston’s early years, as well as architectural drawings, historic maps, and rare books and pamphlets.

The Julia Ideson Library was designed by the Boston architecture firm, Cram and Ferguson, whose other projects include the campus plan for Rice University, Houston’s Trinity Episcopal Church, the campus of New Jersey’s Princeton University, the US Military Academy at West Point, and New York’s St. John the Divine Church.  The Julia Ideson Library is a Recorded Texas Historical Landmark, a City of Houston Protected Landmark, a Texas State Archaeological Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A 21,500 square foot state-of-the-art archival wing is currently under construction on the south side of the building, and it follows the original architectural plans.  The goal is to “create a welcoming environment, (including a public reading room in the historic Texas Room) and beautifully landscaped gardens so that more Houstonians may enjoy this historic building and its grounds.”  (Julia Ideson Library Preservation Partners, )  The new wing includes a two-story loggia with open-air seating on both levels, giving a gracious transition to the palm-shaded courtyard or “outdoor reading room”.  Completion of this project is planned for the summer of 2011.

The Julia Ideson Library, at 500 McKinney, is located seven miles from downtown West U.  Visitor’s Tip:  Inexpensive basement parking is located under the nearby Jesse Jones Library.

Roger Martin

March 14, 2011

2530 Stanmore Drive - SOLD in River Oaks, Houston, TX

2530 Stanmore Drive

2530 Stanmore Drive is a traditional-style River Oaks home byuilt in 1994 with 4 or 5 bedrooms and 4.5 baths.  The home features three fireplaces, hardwoods, marble tile floors, and lush landscaping.

Property Information

  • Sold For: $1,575,000
  • House Size: 5,877 sq ft
  • Lot Size: 9,150 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 4 or 5
  • Bathrooms: 4.5
  • Buyer Represented by:  Julie Webber 
  • MLS #48367284


  • Marble tile entry with double crown molding
  • Hardwoods, recessed lighting, built-ins
  • Three fireplaces, French doors, bay window
  • Island kitchen with granite counters and built-in appliances
  • Master bath with marble tile floors, double sinks, jetted tub, separate shower
  • Third floor game room with full bath
  • Lush landscaping, fountain, spa, patio
  • Quarters with kitchenette and full bath

>More Great River Oaks Area Homes for Sale

March 8, 2011

“Animals in Translation” by Dr. Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

Temple Grandin - Animals in TranslationThere is nothing more unique than a new idea – and Temple Grandin is full of them.  Animals in Translation is a fascinating look at animal behavior, written from the point of view of the autistic author.  Dr. Grandin suggests that, like some autistic people, animals, are primarily visual thinkers.  This stands in contrast to most of us other humans, who may be abstract or verbal thinkers.  Dr. Grandin makes the point that her autistic tendencies have given her the tools to become the animal expert she is today.

Animals in Translation is unique look at a new and different way of communicating – both with animals and - more importantly - with each other.

Recommended by Ann M.

Roger Martin Properties

Posted in What West U Reads
March 8, 2011

Organic Meats Now Served at Edloe Deli

Edloe DeliKudos to E.I. Thomas, the chef/owner of the Edloe Deli for using organic meats in his restaurant.

Niman Ranch meats come from over 650 farmers and ranchers across the country.  Everyone in this network practices sustainable agriculture, crop rotation, and alternative energy sources.  They raise their animals naturally, with no antibiotics and no hormones.  Their feed is vegetarian only, and entirely free of animal products.  The animals are handled in a humane way, as specified by Dr. Temple Grandin.

So organic meats are a great addition to the tasty Edloe Deli menu.  Check out the all-natural Angus burgers - even the bacon is all-natural.

Roger Martin

Posted in Where West U Eats
March 8, 2011

Kathleen Jurgens and Temple Grandin

Kathleen Jurgens and Dr. Temple GrandinThis photo was taken in December 2010 at the Autism and Aspergers Conference in Galveston, Texas.  Dr. Temple Grandin, on the left, was the key-note speaker. The high school student standing with her is my young friend Kathleen.

Dr. Grandin has been named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Heros for 2010 .  Originally labeled as brain-damaged, Dr. Grandin is now a nationally known speaker, a prolific writer, and holds a PhD in Animal Science.  In a series of inspirational books, she has described her experiences living and working with autism.  She has spent her life making animal handling practices more humane, stating that “Nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be.”  In fact, over half the cattle in this country are now processed according to her standards.

Dr. Grandin’s mind works differently than almost everyone’s – and she illustrates this scientifically in her lectures.  She credits her unique ability to understand animals to her neurological differences, thus considering them advantages instead of handicaps.

Kathleen is also planning to major in animal science when she graduates from high school.  Like Dr. Grandin, she has already spoken as a panelist in several autism and Asperger’s conferences.  I am proud of her, and expect great things!

Roger Martin

March 7, 2011

"Dead Man Walking" by Sister Helen Prejean

Dead Man Walking - Sister Helen PrejeanDead Man Walking is one woman’s eye-witness observation of the capital punishment system in our country.  It was written by Sister Helen Prejean in 1993, and describes her experiences as a spiritual advisor to two death-penalty inmates.  Along the way, she meets officials both kind and cruel, witnesses the agony of the victims’ families, chronicles the emotional toll on the guards, and discovers bribery and political corruption.  Ultimately, she helps the inmates and their families cope with the grinding terror of paying the final penalty.  Dead Man Walking was made into a movie in 1995 and an opera in 2000.  The author, a Louisiana nun, speaks always in a calm and sensible this-is-what-I-saw voice.  The juxtaposition of this quiet, factual voice against its bizarre and brutal setting makes the contrast more extreme.

Dead Man Walking is well worth reading for the ethical questions it raises.

Recommended by Ann M.

Posted in What West U Reads
March 7, 2011

The Houston Arboretum - One of Houston's Best Kept Secret

The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is one of Houston's Best Kept SecretsWith 155 wooded acres and over five miles of trails, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is one of Houston’s Best Kept Secrets.  Once inside the woods, you could be miles from the hustle and bustle of city life.  It is hard to believe that this quiet retreat is inside the Inner Loop and just across the road from Memorial Park, the most heavily-trafficed park in the city.

The Houston Arboretum was one of the first nature education facilities for children in the State of Texas.  It is open from 7 a.m. until dusk, seven days a week. Classes and field trips are available at the Discovery Room and Nature Shop, which has public restrooms.  However, the Houston Arboretum is a haven and a sanctuary for native plants and animals – so dogs must be leashed and there is no picnicking allowed.  But if you want a quiet place to see wild birds, butterflies and flowers, this is it.

The Outer Loop trail is my personal favorite – a broad, easy path from woods, to meadows, to ponds.  As you move through all the micro-environments of the park, there is something for every child – little boys can run fast and throw sticks, and little girls can stop to smell the blossoms.  Bug spray is recommended.

The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is located only 5.35 miles from downtown West University Place – just a ten minute trip if the freeways are moving freely.


Roger Martin

March 7, 2011

Children’s Museum Wins Award

Childrens Musem of HoustonThe Children’s Museum of Houston has always been a favorite of mine.  It is a must-see visit whenever we have visiting munchkins in town. Truth to tell, it is as entertaining to the big kids (like me!) as it is to little ones.

I remember well the weekend this new facility opened.  The cramped, temporary facility along Allen Parkway was replaced with this state-of-the-art building in Houston’s Museum District.  The porches of the building are upheld by colorful, cartoon-type figures of children.  These pillars are called Caryakids in a whimsical nod to the famous Caryatid statues of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Then, as now, the museum was chock-filled with exciting, hands-on activities.  When we complimented the staff on their fabulous new museum, we were shocked to discover that they had received nothing but complaints.  So my wife sent them a letter detailing how much we loved their new museum and all its exhibits – this letter was posted on the staff’s bulletin board as a morale-booster.

Now it’s official – a survey by named our Children’s Museum the best in the country in 2011! 

The Children’s Museum of Houston is located just four miles from the center of West U. It is open Tuesday though Sunday, and entry is free on Thursday nights.

Well done – and thank you for providing the children of Houston with a Playground for the Mind!

Roger Martin