Montrose: Houston, Texas
One of Houston's original streetcar suburbs, Montrose has a sliver of everything. Eclectic and urbane, the neighborhood is a fusion of architectural styles, land uses, and people (former residents include President Lyndon Johnson and billionaire Howard Hughes). The neighborhood has a thriving art, museum, and cultural scene, and local businesses. It has been the center of Houston's gay and lesbian community since the 1970s. The neighborhood retains much of its early 20th century character: one-third of the city's historic districts are here.
The neighborhood is immediately west of downtown Houston and is bounded by Allen Parkway to the north, Highway 59 to the south, Bagby Street to the east, and Shepherd Drive to the west.
Like many inner-ring neighborhoods, Montrose suffered during federal urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s. Incremental improvements initiated by residents, organizations, and alliances began in the 1970s. Change accelerated in the late 1990s when the neighborhood was discovered by new residents moving to Houston as a result of $2.6 billion in downtown revitalization and reinvestment.
Housing in Montrose, two-thirds of which is composed of rental units, is plentiful and diverse, ranging from graceful old mansions and Arts and Crafts bungalows to new townhouses, lofts, and patio homes.
- Original neighborhood made up of Montrose Place Addition, a planned community platted in 1911 using traditional street grid; four north-south boulevards became magnificently landscaped esplanades; developer put in $1 million in improvements
- Has five city-designated historic districts: Courtlandt Place (1996), Westmoreland (1997), Avondale East (1999), Avondale West (2007), and Audubon Place (2009); Courtlandt Place and Westmoreland on National Register of Historic Places
- Architectural styles include Victorian, Queen Anne, Prairie, American Four Square, Craftsman, Bungalow, Mission, Colonial and Tudor Revival. The landmark Link-Lee House (1912) is an exceptional example of Neo-Classical architecture with Arts and Crafts influences; listed on National Register of Historic Places, it occupies an entire city block and since 1947 has served as administrative offices for University of St. Thomas
- Boyhood home of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes (now University of St. Thomas's Modern Language Building); Montrose also home of Lyndon B. Johnson when he taught high school in the 1920s
Amenities and Community Resources
- Vibrant retail and entertainment destination, from high-end boutiques, upscale spas, and antique merchants to second-hand furniture stores, thrift shops, and tattoo parlors; some 200 eateries including ethnic restaurants, tea and coffee shops, delis and bakeries, and fast-food restaurants; dance clubs, dive bars, and alternative lounges add to artsy feel that is present 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Art galleries and museums include the diverse and extensive Menil Collection that represents many world cultures and thousands of years of human creativity; also the Holocaust Museum Houston and Art League Houston, a $560,000 origami-inspired gallery and educational building that opened in 2007
- Parks including Buffalo Bayou, Houston's premier greenbelt; Cherryhurst, which serves as a village square; Ervan Chew, the first neighborhood park in Houston to allow dogs to legally run off-leash; Mandell has organic community garden
- Several public and private primary schools, a public magnet school, the city's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and St. Thomas University, a small college
- Nearly a dozen bus lines connect to downtown and several light rail stations
- Mix of short and long blocks offer alternative pathways throughout neighborhood; streets and buildings are on a human scale
- Recent planning efforts focus on enhanced accessibility and connectivity; "Walkable Montrose," a plan developed by the Montrose Boulevard Conservancy in 2008, seeks to reestablish this street as Houston's grand boulevard
- Houston-Galveston Area Commission's "Montrose Pedestrian & Bicyclist Plan" recommends more than $1 million in improvements for neighborhood
- Montrose is the heart of Houston's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) community, long an economic and political force in neighborhood; Urban Institute reports neighborhood has 10th highest U.S. concentration of same-sex couple households
- Nearly 20 active neighborhood and business associations; First Montrose Commons focuses on historic preservation efforts. The Neartown Association, an umbrella organization, is spearheading development of a Super Neighborhood Action Plan; the Museum District Business Alliance has been active since 1982
- Two management districts in neighborhood — East Montrose (2005; originally named Harris County Improvement District #6) and West Montrose (2009); approved by state legislature; districts assess local businesses to fund area improvement and services plan involving security, business development, transportation planning, amenities
- Several annual festivals and events, the most prominent being the Houston Pride Parade in June; the Westheimer Colony Arts Festival occurs in April and October; Houston Greek Festival, more than four decades old, takes place the first week in October