A group of dedicated individuals founded the Neartown Association in 1963, over five decades ago. They were seeking to improve the quality of life in the historic and unique central-city neighborhoods that comprise Montrose. The process of building community is time-consuming, but they were undaunted – and unwilling to wait for someone else to protect and restore their home turf.
Neartown includes some of Houston’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods, including the original Montrose, platted in 1911. Some neighborhoods in the area have retained their original names, such as Cherryhurst, Hyde Park, Mandell Place, Westmoreland, and Winlow Place. In other parts of Neartown, old subdivision names, such as Oakmont and Sandyside, have lost their significance except as part of legal descriptions on property deeds. In their place, new neighborhood organizations have arisen with names reflective of the area’s history, such as Audubon, Avondale, Castle Court, First Montrose Commons, Lancaster Place, and Roseland Estates.
Since its founding, the Neartown Association has supported, and often sponsored, the formation of civic clubs and neighborhood associations within its borders. These groups hold individual meetings and deal with localized issues, such as deed restrictions, problem properties, neighborhood security, and developer relations. They call on Neartown for support with their local challenges and, in turn, Neartown rallies these civic associations around issues of larger community concern.
Often likened to New York’s Greenwich Village, Neartown has long attracted an eclectic mix of residents and businesses. Neartown has been home to Clark Gable, Howard Hughes, Dr. Denton Cooley, as well as individuals and families with names prominent in Houston history, such as Fondren, Abercrombie, Masterson, and Hogg. Wilson Montessori now occupies the site that once housed the family home of Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of the Republic of Texas. President Lyndon B. Johnson lived in our neighborhood while he taught at San Jacinto High School, and Walter Cronkite spent his youth in a bungalow in the 1400 block of Westheimer Road. Former Neartown Association presidents have gone on to serve as City Council Members and Houston Mayor.
Neartown/Montrose is a vibrant and growing community. The Neartown neighborhoods of today have largely recovered from any decline experienced in decades past. Historic housing is being preserved, restored, and enhanced; we have six recognized Historic Districts and a number of historic landmarks. Our civic associations have strengthened their tools for managing the challenges of new development and sustaining their neighborhood character. Prestigious cultural institutions such as the Menil Collection have located within Neartown’s borders, giving added luster to the area. Greater Montrose remains a hub of entertainment, fine dining, eclectic businesses, and artistic endeavors. These are just a few examples of the varied contributions that give today’s Neartown a vitality that stands at the core of Houston’s urban identity. The Neartown Association seeks to nurture this vitality while also enhancing quality of life amidst the pressures of increasing density and change.