December 18th, 2014 4:36 PM by AllenBrothers Realtors
Avondale is a Montrose subdivision in Houston, TX that has acquired historic status in the eastern and western sections. It is today a tree-lined and affluent community very near the core of the city, and it has some of the oldest mansions that are still occupied and standing in all of their splendor. Avondale was designed to compete with other affluent neighborhoods, such as Westmoreland and Courtland Place. The two historic districts are Avondale East and Avondale West, both developed in the 1900s. The former gained historic status in 1999, and the latter in 2007. The architectural styles used were Tudor Revival, American Four Square, Prairie, and Craftsman. Certain original features, such as hitching posts, red sidewalks and carriage houses, can still be seen today in the area.
In 1906 business ventures were just beginning to take residential development beyond the area directly south of downtown Houston along Main Street, by virtue of the streetcar lines that were being extended outward into what was then countryside and pastures. Joseph F. Meyer, Jr. sold a 31-acre pasture outside Houston to the Greater Houston Improvement Company in 1907 for $105,000 and it was quickly platted into 129 lots along three main streets. The curbs and sidewalks were concrete and the streets were paved with oyster shells. Teas Nursery was commissioned to plant 500 trees.
A contest was held for the naming of the subdivision with a $25 prize. Nine people submitted the name “Avondale,” which was a homonym of the English hometown of Shakespeare: Stratford-upon-Avon. The three main streets were named in accordance with the Shakespearean theme: Avondale, Stratford and Hathaway (today Westheimer). (Shakespeare’s wife was named Anne Hathaway.) The cross streets were Baldwin, Mason, Helena, and Taft.
The neighborhood was always intended to be a high-end one. There were many deed restrictions banning any development of an unwanted nature. There could be no apartments, inns, duplexes, lodging houses, or businesses of any kind in the district. Deed restrictions were extremely specific, and marketing was highly targeted to specific income levels at the time of original development. This was the case with many parts of Montrose when they were first developed. Income levels were steered to different areas based on pricing, size, minimum construction price and minimum setback of lots.
Automobiles were just becoming popular as Avondale first developed, and many contractors and members of the general population still used mules and horse-drawn carriages at the time, relying on them especially for commercial deliveries and things of this nature. Many mansions had carriage houses built behind them and hitching posts at the curb. The carriage houses were two-stories tall and in the same style as the main house. They had space downstairs for two automobiles and a small unit that could be considered servants’ quarters upstairs.
By 1912 Avondale had expanded westward past Taft Street by four blocks. The new north-south streets were called Whitney, Hopkins, Stanford, and Crocker. The new lots on Avondale Street were also large, as in the original neighborhood, with a back alley. The cross streets had a standard city residential-lot size of 5000 square feet.
The deed restrictions that helped Avondale develop expired in 1930, and businesses began opening in some of the houses. The neighborhood began to diversify over the coming decades in a positive way, but lost its exclusive character with the passing of the deed restrictions.
After World War II, apartments were built in the area to help solve a housing crisis and many of the old families left the area. Businesses took over Westheimer at this time as well. In recent times, a renewed passion for inner city living has put Avondale back on the map as the affluent community it once was, as so much about this beautiful area of town has remained just as it was when it was first platted and built 100 years ago, and the oaks planted by Teas Nursery have now grown to full maturity.Call one of our sales agents at Allen Brothers today if you're interested in finding something to buy in this area.
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