| HISTORY OF THE WOODLAND HEIGHTS
Woodland Heights was born in 1907 on 106
acres of high ground just north of downtown Houston and White Oak
Bayou. Developers were attracted to the area by nearby Woodland Park
(then called Highland Park), a popular 30-acre spot with a lake and
other amenities that drew visitors from across the city.
From the start, Woodland Heights was
envisioned as a special neighborhood with easy access to downtown jobs
and shopping. The William Wilson Realty Company platted the land
as a streetcar suburb because of the proximity of Houston Electric
Company public transportation. Streetcars ran through the
neighborhood until bus service was introduced in 1939.
Making a Neighborhood
To ensure Woodland Heights’ success,
its developers incorporated elements they deemed essential to a viable
modern neighborhood, including water piped into every house, sewers,
cement sidewalks, graded streets, shrubs, trees and parks. Gate
piers at Bayland and Houston Avenues marked the entrance. Bayland
itself is a prime example of the importance the William Wilson Realty
Company placed on green spaces. The street was lined with oak and
sycamore trees that were watered regularly by horse-drawn water wagons
until they were established early in the century. Now the trees
are eye-catching canopies that curve over the avenue.
The developers also provided for education
in the community by deeding land to the single-room Beauchamp Springs
Public School, giving it a permanent home in 1909. The building,
which became the William B. Travis Elementary School, underwent major
renovation in 2005 focused on preserving the original brick structure.
In October 1907, Woodland Heights’
boundaries were Omar to the north, Julian on the west, Houston Avenue
to the east, and White Oak Avenue (today’s Byrne) on the
south. The 35-acre Bayland Orphanage compound, originally
intended for orphans of Civil War veterans, started at Julian and
Bayland. This was the western border of the Woodland Heights
until fire destroyed the orphanage building in 1914, the institution
relocated near Bellaire, and the land became part of the Woodland
Heights. Bayland Avenue is named for the orphanage.
Today, the neighborhood encompasses
approximately 2,000 homes in 61 different developments that range from
a few houses to several hundred. Some of the major sections
beyond the original neighborhood boundaries are Highland Park, Woodland
Heights Annex, Grota Homestead, Norhill, Woodland Terrace and
Willborg. Current boundaries are Pecore Street on the north,
Studewood Street to the west, Interstate 45 on the east and Interstate
10 to the south.
Although Woodland Heights was designed as
a bedroom community and remained primarily residential, businesses were
established in the neighborhood as well. Five main business
- Houston Avenue, north of
White Oak Bayou
- Beauchamp Avenue, up to
- White Oak Drive, from
Houston Avenue to Studewood
- Studewood, from Little
White Oak Bayou to 11th/Pecore
- Teetshorn/North Sabine
Reportedly, the Houston Avenue business
center was the earliest to emerge. From Houston Avenue’s
long-gone Highland Park Hotel, located next to the park and home to a
theatre, saloon, restaurant and beer garden, to the still-standing
Woodland Drug Company, business boomed in the early days of the
Woodland Heights. Numerous buildings that housed neighborhood
businesses survive even though the original business has changed or the
structure converted to living space.
Many historic structures in Woodland
Heights built between 1907 and 1925 remain. The homes primarily
reflect the Queen Anne, craftsman and English cottage architectural
styles popular just after the turn of the century among the more modest
middle class. House styles are predominately bungalows, cottages
and four squares with most featuring the generous front porches so
important to the social conventions of the era and personal comfort in
Houston’s pre-air-conditioned climate.
The oldest churches still serving the
community include St. Mark’s United Methodist Church on Pecore,
which can be traced to Germantown and the Emanuel German Methodist
Episcopal Church in 1875, and Zion Lutheran Church on Beauchamp that
was completed in 1915.
Hogg Middle School has been operating as a
junior high since it opened in 1926 and, while no longer in use, the
existing Woodland Masonic Lodge #1157, AF&AM structure built in
Surviving historic Woodland Heights homes
include the Klunkert Farmhouse, which dates back to 1875, and the
Wilson Home at 205 Bayland, the only example of prairie
style-influenced architecture in the neighborhood. William A.
Wilson was the only original Woodland Heights developer to actually
live there , and he did it in a big way, building the largest and
grandest home in the Woodland Heights. He and his family lived in the
house until his death in the late 1920s.
Another 20 of the homes he built still stand.
Renovated and restored to its original
grandeur in 2007, the Wilson Home serves as an enduring monument to the
vision that turned the Woodland Heights into a thriving hometown
neighborhood near downtown.
The Past as Present
Today, Woodland Heights remains one of the
most charming neighborhoods in Houston. Walking paths with
downtown views wind past softball fields, a public swimming pool and
Visitors still flock to the area.
Each December for one evening, the Woodland Heights Civic Association
in the Heights, 14 blocks of luminaria, entertainment,
refreshments and carriage rides. Each spring, the neighborhood hosts a
Woodland Park, Houston’s second
oldest public park, continues to be a neighborhood recreational
attraction though on a smaller scale than its turn-of-the-century
predecessor. As Woodland Heights moves into its second century,
the civic association is spearheading a fund-raising drive to enhance
the park and showcase the inspiration that sparked development of
After falling on economic hard times in
the later half of the 20th century, Woodland Heights’
revival began about 20 years ago as its historic charm and central
location spurred a renaissance. But all through the years, despite
economic ups and downs, neighbors reveled in a commitment to community.
Today, we continue to celebrate our diversity and strive to preserve
our heritage. This book is part of that effort.