The idea for a community of country homes in the area that is now West University Place was conceived in 1910 by Ben W. Hooper, then Governor of Tennessee. That year, Governor Hooper bought a tract of land southwest of Houston out of an old Spanish land grant, which had been surveyed by A.C. Reynolds.
Lots for Sale
The Houston West End Realty Company, A.D. Foreman, President, developed today's West University Place 1st addition and put the 1st lots up for sale on April 1,1917.
Naming the Area
The area's proximity to Rice University led to the name West University Place.
When the City of Houston decided not to invest in utility lines to service the tiny community with an uncertain future, Foreman spent $100,000 of his own earnings to bring electrical, water and telephone service to West University Place. Still, in 1923 there were only 40 families living in the muddy, poorly drained swamp.
In those early days, a 100 foot by 200 foot lot cost $1,000 and houses were required to cost a minimum of $2,500. Homes facing Buffalo Speedway and Bellaire Boulevard were required to cost $4,000 and $5,000 respectively.
Residents dissatisfied with muddy streets, poor drainage, and the absence of schools and fire protection joined in a series of town meetings, resulting in the incorporation of the City in 1924. For 6 years, city fathers put the creation of an infrastructure above all other conveniences by building streets and providing various services such as:
- Garbage collection
- Natural gas supply
- Police and fire protection
- Postal delivery
- Sewage disposal
- Water supply
The pragmatism of the city's early residents resulted in the development of our 1st park, Wier Park, at Belmont and Sunset, in 1930. With most of our park land donated to the city by early residents and developers, West U continues to take pride in the greenery and open recreational space offered at 6 developed parks in existence today. Expansion of our largest park, Colonial Park, continues with the acquisition of surrounding lots.
In 1939, the City exhibited confidence in its own political maturity and the character of its citizens by refusing to consolidate with its larger, powerful neighbor, the City of Houston. The confidence was solidified in adoption of the 1st City Charter in 1940.
Over the years, the City has progressed steadily toward its present position as one of the area's most desirable neighborhoods. Civic-minded citizens and small-town government, combined with a proximity to major business, educational, cultural, and scientific centers, have contributed to a steady increase in property values.
Present Day West University Place
With a philosophy that combines rich traditions and responsible innovation, West University Place has shed its orphan municipality roots to become a stable, yet progressive model city.
If you're interested in reading more about the history of West University Place, stop by the Municipal Building at 3800 University Boulevard to view a copy of Stepping Back in Time: History of West University Place, by June A. Begeman.
The following sources can also be referenced for more information on West University Place:
- "Suburban Pioneers: The Origins of West University Place 1919-1939" by Janice Holt Lang
- "1988 and The City Directory of West University Place" by Adelle Pittman, 1975