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LANDMARKS - Mansions and Homes


Howard Hughes HomeDuring the late nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, affluent Houstonians built large mansions and fine homes throughout the city. Some have survived and are still used as residences or serve other purposes.

Main Street was lined with mansions, all of which have since given way to office buildings. Below is a partial listing of some of these residences.

Henry Fox Mansion

The Henry Fox house, the last mansion on Main Street, occupied the site of the present Exxon Building.

Waldo Mansion

The Waldo Mansion, on 202 Westmoreland Avenue, is the oldest occupied house in Houston. Built in 1885 at the intersection of Caroline and Rusk Streets, it was moved to its present site in1905.

W. W. Fondren, Sr. Mansion

The W. W. Fondren, Sr. house, built in 1923, is one of the last mansions remaining on Montrose Avenue, once Houston's most elegant thoroughfare. Close by are the Waldo Mansion and No. 435 Hawthorne, where the late Lyndon B. Johnson lived when he taught at Old Sam Houston High School in the 1920's. It is still owned by the Johnson family.

Other mansions, which have been restored are include below.

John Kirby Mansion

John Kirby Mansion, designed by James Ruskin and built in 1928. The Kirby mansion became the headquarters of the Red Cross and is currently owned by Gulf States Oil Corporation.

T. P. Lee Mansion

The T. P. Lee house was built in 1910 and was purchased by the Basilian Fathers of Toronto in 1946 to serve as the first building of the new University of St. Thomas.

Howard Hughes Home

The old Howard Hughes home on 3921 Yoakum has also been incorporated into St. Thomas University.

Historic Communities and Districts

Houston currently has 15 city historic districts, plus the Old Sixth Ward Protected Historic District. These historic districts are representative of a variety of time periods and architectural styles of Houston's past, dating back to the mid-1800s.

Audubon Place District

Audubon Place is part of the original Montrose Addition, which was platted in 1911 with beautiful esplanades along Lovett, Montrose, Yoakum and Audubon Place Boulevards. Some of Houston’s most prominent citizens built homes on and adjacent to Audubon Place Boulevard in the architectural styles in vogue at the time - Bungalow, Prairie, Mission Revival, Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, Cape Cod, and Art Deco as well as Craftsman, the most prevalent style. Audubon Place Historic District was designated in 2009.

Avondale East District

Avondale, developed in the early 20th century, was home to many of Houston’s early business and social leaders before the development of River Oaks and Broadacres. The neighborhood was designed with special attention paid to quality of life, with wide streets, cement curbs and gutters, and utility poles located in rear alleys. The historic homes of Avondale are representative of the architectural styles in vogue in that time period, such as Prairie, American Four Square, Craftsman, and Tudor Revival. Architects and builders who built homes in Avondale included Fred Marett, E. L. Crain, and most prominently, the Russell Brown Company, which was responsible for more than a dozen of the homes built during Avondale’s initial development. The historic district is in two sections – the East was designated in 1999, the West in 2007.

Avondale West District

Avondale, developed in the early 20th century, was home to many of Houston’s early business and social leaders before the development of River Oaks and Broadacres. The neighborhood was designed with special attention paid to quality of life, with wide streets, cement curbs and gutters, and utility poles located in rear alleys. The historic homes of Avondale are representative of the architectural styles in vogue in that time period, such as Prairie, American Four Square, Craftsman, and Tudor Revival. Architects and builders who built homes in Avondale included Fred Marett, E. L. Crain, and most prominently, the Russell Brown Company, which was responsible for more than a dozen of the homes built during Avondale’s initial development. The historic district is in two sections – the East was designated in 1999, the West in 2007.

Boulevard Oaks District

Boulevard Oaks is much-admired for its lovely esplanades lined with giant oak trees along North and South Boulevards. The neighborhood contains an eclectic collection of two-story brick homes built in the 1920s and 30s, and designed by the city’s finest architects and builders of the day, such as Joseph Northrop, Jr., Katharine Mott, Hiram Salisbury, Joseph Finger, and Russell Brown. The styles of architecture found in Boulevard Oaks reflect the Revival styles in vogue at the time, especially Tudor Revival and Colonial Revival, as well as French Manorial, Neoclassical, and English Picturesque. Boulevard Oaks Historic District was designated in 2009, and is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Broadacres District

Another historic district is the Broad Acres neighborhood, in the South Main section of Houston, featuring homes built between 1923 and 1930. The district has applied for listing on the National Register for Historic Places.

Broadacres, established in 1923, is notable for its park-like setting with elegant homes set back on large, lushly landscaped lots. William Ward Watkin laid out the neighborhood’s master plan of curvilinear streets and esplanades lined with large live oaks. Most of Broadacres’ 26 homes were designed by leading architects of the day, such as Birdsall Briscoe and John Staub. Broadacres Historic District was designated in 2007, and the neighborhood is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Courtlandt Place District

Courtlandt Place, established as an exclusive neighborhood in 1906, is a gated, one-block long, tree-lined boulevard that has been home to some of Houston’s most prominent families. Courtlandt Place’s gracious mansions were designed in the popular architectural styles of the period – Georgian, Colonial, and Tudor Revival, as well as Mediterranean and Prairie styles. All eighteen original homes, built between 1907 and 1937, are still standing, giving the street a unique early 20th century character. Courtlandt Place is the city’s first historic district, designated in 1996, and is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Freeland District

Freeland, only two blocks in size, was platted in 1920, from a portion of the original 1839 homestead of Gabriel Gostick. The developers of Freeland knew that proximity to the flourishing Houston Heights community would attract buyers to Freeland and could benefit Freeland residents as well. Freeland features an intact concentration of one-story 1920s bungalows, giving this modest neighborhood near Houston Heights an early 20th century ambiance. Freeland Historic District was designated in 2008.

Houston Heights East District

Houston Heights, established in 1891 and named for its elevation 23 feet above that of downtown Houston, was one of the earliest planned communities in Texas. It flourished as a distinct municipality until 1918 when it was annexed to the City of Houston. Despite rapid redevelopment in the 20th century, Houston Heights still maintains the feel of a small town with its historic Victorian and bungalow-style homes. Also found in Houston Heights are historic churches, theatres, corner stores, parks, fraternal halls, schools, a library, and a business district on W. 19th Street. Houston Heights Historic Districts East and West, designated in 2008 and 2007 respectively, cover a large portion of the original Houston Heights plat – making them the largest historic district in the city. The neighborhood has many homes listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Houston Heights West District

Houston Heights, established in 1891 and named for its elevation 23 feet above that of downtown Houston, was one of the earliest planned communities in Texas. It flourished as a distinct municipality until 1918 when it was annexed to the City of Houston. Despite rapid redevelopment in the 20th century, Houston Heights still maintains the feel of a small town with its historic Victorian and bungalow-style homes. Also found in Houston Heights are historic churches, theatres, corner stores, parks, fraternal halls, schools, a library, and a business district on W. 19th Street. Houston Heights Historic Districts East and West, designated in 2008 and 2007 respectively, cover a large portion of the original Houston Heights plat – making them the largest historic district in the city. The neighborhood has many homes listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Main Street Market Square District

Main Street Market Square Historic District contains Houston’s best concentration of late 19th and early 20th century commercial buildings. Approximately half of the district’s historic structures were built before 1900. Also located within the district are Allen’s Landing and Market Square, two of the most historic sites in Houston. The buildings in Main Street Market Square range from modest, mid-19th century brick commercial buildings to a number of small but ornately detailed High Victorian commercial buildings, and include a fine selection of multi-story public, bank, and office buildings. Main Street Market Square became a City of Houston historic district in 1997, and is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Norhill District

Norhill Historic District was developed in the 1920s by Will Hogg, the developer of River Oaks, as a “master planned community…for the working man…rich in artistic bungalows.” In contrast to River Oaks, Norhill's modest homes, built by local contractors, were constructed from designs found mostly in plan books and catalogs popular during that period. Norhill’s most distinctive feature is the park-like esplanades that divide Norhill Boulevard. Designated in 2000, Norhill Historic District is one of the city’s largest historic districts.

Old Sixth Ward District

The Old Sixth Ward, designated as a city historic district in 1998, contains the highest intact concentration of Victorian-era buildings in Houston. Located just northwest of downtown, the neighborhood retains the feel of a modest, self-contained area with its 19th century and early 20th century homes, corner stores, churches, school, and former fire station. In 2007, most of the Old Sixth Ward was designated by the City as a Protected Historic District. The neighborhood is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Old Sixth Ward Protected Historic District

The Old Sixth Ward, designated as a city historic district in 1998, contains the highest intact concentration of Victorian-era buildings in Houston. Located just northwest of downtown, the neighborhood retains the feel of a modest, self-contained area with its 19th century and early 20th century homes, corner stores, churches, school, and former fire station. In 2007, most of the Old Sixth Ward was designated by the City as a Protected Historic District. The neighborhood is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Shadowlawn District

Shadow Lawn is one of several elegant enclave neighborhoods found in Houston’s Museum District. Developed in 1923 by Houston attorney and judge, John H. Crooker, Shadow Lawn contains 14 distinguished homes built along a curving tree-lined street. Some of the best architects of the day designed homes in Shadow Lawn, including Joseph W. Northrop, Jr., William Ward Watkin, John F. Staub, Maurice J. Sullivan, Cameron D. Fairchild, Vance D. Phenix, Hiram A. Salisbury, Lee W. Lindsay, Anderson Todd, and Howard Barnstone. Shadow Lawn Historic District was created in 2008.

West Eleventh Place District

West Eleventh Place is a small, private, residential cul-de-sac located off Bissonnet Street in Houston’s Museum District. Developed as a 'private place' neighborhood in 1920 by architect Joseph W. Northrop, Jr., the district contains architect-designed houses along a narrow private lane landscaped with street trees characteristic of 1920s Houston - magnolias, palms, and live oaks. The entrance to the neighborhood is defined by its original brick and stone gate piers. West Eleventh Place Historic District was created in 1997, and is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Westmoreland District

Established in 1902, Westmoreland Historic District contains some of the grandest residential architecture to be found in Houston in an eclectic mixture of Late Victorian and early 20th century house styles. Despite the intrusion of a freeway along the east side of the district and replacement of some original houses with post-war apartment complexes, Westmoreland retains its unique historic character. Westmoreland Historic District was designated as a city historic district in 1997, and most of the neighborhood is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

 




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