Heights Historic Districts
There are 7 Heights Historic Districts out of the 20 total for Houston. There are 3 that are labeled as “Heights Historic Districts” and the other 4 are “Houston Heights Proper.” Below are 3 Heights Historic Districts; Norhill, Woodland Heights and Germantown.
Norhill was developed in the 1920’s by Will Hogg as a master planned community for the working class. The homes are a distinctive mix of brick cottages and wood bungalows. Many of these homes were pre-cut “kit” homes available from catalogs, to be constructed by local craftsmen. The park-like esplanade of Norhill Blvd. is another feature of this neighborhood. Norhill Historic District is the Heights first historic district designation (in 2000).
Woodland Heights Historic District is just below Norhill. Both are East of Studewood St. Woodland Heights is just over a century old. We had our 100th birthday in 2007. This area was recently designated as historic. The uneven boundary lines show that not everybody agreed with the decision.
Grota Homestead is a part of the original Germantown, which was later bisected by I-45. Germantown is just West of Woodland Heights. It is a triangular area between I-45 and Houston Ave. with about 80 homes. It was originally platted as Germantown in the 1830’s. By designating it as Germantown Historic District, the homeowners don’t have to worry about I-45 being widened (being talked about for years) and taking in more of the neighborhood. These homes are mostly bungalows with a few larger homes facing the park.
Heights Proper Historic Districts
The remaining historic districts are located in Houston Heights proper. They are: Houston Heights West, Houston Heights South, Houston Heights East, and Freeland historic district. The Heights is an old part of Houston, one of the oldest planned communities in Texas. Houston Heights (named for it’s 23 foot elevation over the swampy downtown area) was formed in early 1890’s, and connected to downtown by a trolley line. It became incorporated as the city of Houston Heights, but was still annexed by Houston in 1918.
The Heights went into decline for years, but the last 15+ years has seen a resurgence in popularity. Lately it has turned into a booming area of new restaurants, increasing home values and lots of high-end new homes. Keeping the character of the Heights is the aim of the these historic districts. Demo is almost impossible in these areas, and exterior remodeling plans must be approved. So, if you buy in these districts you can feel pretty confident that a monstrosity won’t spring up next to you, but if you plan on remodeling/expanding, find out the rules first.
Three of these 4 historic districts are in Houston Heights Historic Districts, and one (Freeland) is just below it. These are all West of Studewood.
East Heights Historic District
Houston Heights East Historic District was approved in 2008. It covers Heights Blvd to Oxford St; from 11th St to 20th.
West Heights Historic District
Houston Heights West Historic District backs up to the East district (West of Yale), but only goes up to 16th St. It goes West to Ashland St.
South Heights Historic District
Houston Heights Historic District South is South of 11th, down almost to I-10. These 3 districts combined make up most of Houston Heights.
Freeland Historic District
Freeland Historic District is the tiniest district in the Heights, encompassing only about 2 blocks 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. This may be the smallest district, but it was one of the most vociferous when new construction was attempted.
Houston Historic District Maps
Houston currently has 20 historic districts, with others being proposed. The area of town with the largest number is the Heights. A map of the Heights Historic Districts (plus a couple of other) is shown below.
People look for homes with specific characteristics: good school districts; walking distance to schools; proximity to nightlife; distance to work, safety, etc. People also focus on age and character of the house and neighborhood. To some of these people having a historic home, or a home in a historic area is important to them; they want history. These are the people who look for homes in historic districts.
Posts devoted to Heights Historic Districts:
First Ward Battle – I wrote this post about the battle between developers and owners in the first ward. The first ward is now a historic district but they were fighting over whether to make it a district.
Find Your Home’s History – How to research historical homes and find out your home’s history.
Independence Heights – Read about the latest historic district created in Houston. It is also the first historic district north of the 610 loop.
The city of Houston has individual Historic District Maps. These are pretty boring pdf maps that show boundaries.
HAR.com though has Interactive Houston Historic District Maps that are much better. It shows an overall map with all of the historic districts, then allows you to click on each one for details, and even do a search for homes for sale in historic districts. HAR.com was the first MLS in the country to provide such a search for the public. It was done in collaboration with the city.
One more site that is playing a big role in shaping our historic districts is the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission (HAHC) is a 13 member review board that reviews requests for landmarks, historic district designations, landmarks and most critical, Certificates of Appropriateness. This is what builders, owners need when attempting to do remodeling of homes in historic districts. These are the people who decide what you can or cannot do to the exterior of your home.
I have a couple of posts on these Historic Districts below.
I live in Woodland Heights Historic District. Contact me if you want to buy or sell in these historic neighborhoods.
More info on these Districts
Quoting from HAR.com….”Houston currently has 19 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. The historic district properties listed for sale on this site include both historic and non-historic properties, all of which are subject to the City of Houston Historic Preservation Ordinance. However, only those properties classified as historic may be eligible for city property tax exemptions and discounts on permit fees. The City has also designated many individual historic landmarks, which will appear on this site only if listed for sale and located within an historic district.“
If you want to search for homes in other historic districts, go to this HAR link or you can give me a call at 713-868-9008 and I can do the work for you!
Latest Posts on Historic Districts
Researching Historic Houston Homes If you live in an old home; especially in the Heights or one of Houston’s historic districts (See Maps of Houston Historic Districts), you undoubtedly have an interest in the history of your house. Who wouldn’t love to know the details of their old home: when it was built; the original owner, […]
First Ward Battle Between Developers and Owners The Chronicle on 4/23/14 had an article about the conflict between developers preservationists in Houston’s First Ward. Preservationist is probably not a good term…too elitist. These are just people who like to see their old homes and their old First Ward neighborhood retain some of its charm and history. This […]
Starkweather Historic District in Independence Heights The City Council recently approved another historic district. This one is significant for a couple of reasons: It is only the second one outside the loop; it is in a part of town that has been ignored for a long time, in Independence Heights. Click on Menu Bar above for […]
Meeting:Historic Preservation Ordinance Review If you are a builder or remodeler driving yourself crazy by trying to work in Heights historic districts, here is an additional way to add to the craziness. Attend the next meeting for the Historic Preservation Ordinance review. The next meeting is Monday, January 12, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Council Annex […]
1845 Harvard is a restored/expanded home in Historic Heights East. This 4 minute slideshow gives views of the original house and shots during the renovation. Renovating any old home is a work of love. Tackling a project of historical significance takes caring, a lot of knowledge, and a group of skilled, dedicated craftsmen. Add the complexity of doing […]
The Houston Press just published in their blog the Top 10 Heights Historic Buildings. Most of these are iconic Heights buildings, but you never get tired of seeing and reading about them. A couple shown on their site are not the usual. See all ten here: Rest of the Best: Houston’s Top 10 Historic Heights Buildings […]
Germantown Historic District Proposed Update: Approval was given in early December, 2013 for the Germantown Historic District! This latest Heights Historic District approval makes the seventh in the Heights. The subdivision of Grota Homestead sought historic designation by its original name of Germantown. Grota is a small neighborhood just East of Woodland Heights. Germantown is how […]
First Ward Historic Designation-Time is Running Out! A portion of First Ward is petitioning for Historic Designation. First Ward is just South of the existing historic district of Sixth Ward.I wrote about this earlier in another blog, TwistedHeights.com. Now channel 13 is talking about it too. Unfortunately, First Ward has had a huge (HUGE) influx […]
Heights Historic District Renovation-1845 Harvard St HDT Builders recently sold their 625 Harvard renovation and are in the middle of their next projects. One of them is the renovation of 1845 Harvard St. 1845 Harvard is in the Heights Historic District East. It is a Mediterranean Revival style home that had been sadly neglected. An […]
Historic Preservation Fair The Houston Historic Preservation Fair is Sat May 18, 2013. The half day free event covers covers a lot of issues involving homes in historic districts. June 21 update: See some notes on this class and learn about Researching Your Historic Home at my 6/21 post. Some of the topics I’m interested […]