Project Row Houses

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Project Row Houses
TypeArts and culture organization
Area served
Third Ward
Project Row Houses

Project Row Houses is a development in the Third Ward area of Houston, Texas. Project Row Houses includes a group of shotgun houses restored in the 1990s.[1] Eight houses serve as studios for visiting artists.[2] Those houses are art studios for art related to African-American themes. A row behind the art studio houses single mothers.[1]


Rick Lowe, a native of Alabama and 2014 MacArthur "genius" grant winner, founded Project Row Houses in 1993 with James Bettison, Bert Long, Jr., Jesse Lott, Floyd Newsum, Bert Samples, and George Smith.[3][4] In 1990, according to Lowe, a group of high school students approached Lowe and asked him to create solutions to problems instead of creating works that tell the community about issues it is already aware of.[2] Lowe and a coalition of artists purchased a group of 22 shotgun houses across two blocks that were built in 1930 and, by the 1990s, were in poor condition.[2] Lisa Gray of the Houston Chronicle said that the houses, originally used as rentals, were "previously ruled by drugs and prostitutes."[5][6]

Inspired by the work of John T. Biggers,[7] the group used seed money funds from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts to restore the houses.[2] Corporate sponsor Chevron renovated the outside of several shotgun houses. The director of the Menil Foundation allowed Monday to be a day off of work for the employees so that they could help renovate the shotgun houses. Volunteers numbering in the hundreds fortified porches, removed trash and used needles from lots, and hung wallboard. Several individuals and families from the area and one local church "adopted" individual houses. Garnet Coleman adopted one house.[2] The houses first opened in 1994.[5]

Deborah Grotfeldt created the concept of the Young Mothers Residential Program, which began operations in 1996; Grotfeldt had worked with Lowe since the Project Row Houses project started. The program gives single mothers one year of housing to allow them to finish their education and organize themselves. Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times said "It has been as successful as the artist residency program."[2] But they weren't trying to do something to serve the arts community;they were trying to figure out how the arts community could serve this community. So after listening to tragic stories about teen pregnancy, rape and the large number of households being led by single parents, they decided that they could utilize single mothers as a symbol for the need for housing in this community. [8]

As of 2009 the Project Row Houses campus had 40 properties. As of that year, some houses have art exhibitions and some houses provide housing space for resident artists. Newer low income housing blocks, using designs provided by the Rice Building Workshop, are now a part of the campus. The program for young mothers uses seven shotgun houses. A playground is adjacent to those houses. In addition, several shotgun houses built in the Victorian era, moved there earlier from historically black communities under development, are a part of the campus. For those not clear on where the "art" comes in, one mother's epiphany provides an answer. "She was initially perplexed about the relationship between the artists and herself,"Lowe says. "Then she said, 'I get it. My life is a work of art too."[9] The Eldorado Ballroom and the Bert Long sculpture "Field of Vision" are a part of the campus. Lisa Gray of the Houston Chronicle said during that year "Driving around, this writer found it's hard to tell where the Row Houses campus begins and ends."[5]

Resident alumni of Artist Rounds[10][edit]


In 2006, the Houston City Council gave Project Row Houses a grant of $975,000.[15][16]



Children living in the houses attend schools in the Houston Independent School District.[18] Zoned schools include Blackshear Elementary School,[19] Cullen Middle School,[20] and Yates High School.[21] Students were previously zoned to Ryan Middle School before 2013;[22] students were reassigned to Cullen after it closed.[23] Beginning in 2018 the magnet middle school Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan also serves as a boundary option for students zoned to Blackshear, Lockhart, and MacGregor elementary schools.[24]


  1. ^ a b Davis, Rod (3 August 2003). "Houston's really good idea Bus tour celebrates communities that forged a city". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 14 March 2016.(subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kimmelman, Michael (17 December 2006). "In Houston, Art Is Where the Home Is". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  3. ^ Spector, Nicole Audrey (25 September 2014). "Rick Lowe: Heart of the City". Guernica. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  4. ^ Sewing, Joy (2016-05-27). "Project Row Houses melds art and community in the Third Ward". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  5. ^ a b c Gray, Lisa (27 September 2009). "Project Row Houses endeavor branches into laundromats". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  6. ^ Greenberg, Mike (6 August 1995). "Project ROW Houses - Neighborhood blight becomes neighborhood hope in Houston's Third Ward". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  7. ^ Gaines, Sallie (31 March 1996). "Shotgun Houses Gave Artist A Prime Target". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  8. ^ Houston, Rick Lowe; TX; USA (2013-10-07). "Rick Lowe: Project Row Houses at 20". Creative Time Reports. Retrieved 2019-05-05.
  9. ^ "At Houston's Project Row Houses, Art Is a Way of Life". Departures. Retrieved 2019-05-05.
  10. ^ "Art cities: How Houston became a hotbed of contemporary art | Christie's". Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  11. ^ "Round 42". Project Row Houses. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  12. ^ "Project Row Houses draws from past, looks to the future -". 2014-01-23. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  13. ^ "Press Releases". Project Row Houses. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  14. ^ "Round 37". Project Row Houses. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  15. ^ "A bigger canvas: Project Row Houses receives almost $1 million to continue its visionary mission". Houston Chronicle. 20 December 2006. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  16. ^ Johnson, Patricia C. (19 November 2006). "Administrator admits stealing from Project Row Houses". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  17. ^ Farbstein, Jay; Wener, Richard; Axelrod, Emily (1998). Visions of Urban Excellence: 1997 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (PDF). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Bruner Foundation. ISBN 978-1-890-28602-6. OCLC 608115343. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  18. ^ "Contact." Project Row Houses. Retrieved on April 22, 2018. "Project Row Houses 2521 Holman St. Houston, TX 77004"
  19. ^ "Blackshear Elementary School Attendance Zonelink=." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on April 21, 2018.
  20. ^ "Cullen Middle School Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on April 21, 2018.
  21. ^ "Yates High School Attendance Zonelink=." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on April 21, 2018.
  22. ^ "Ryan Middle Attendance Zone Archived 2007-06-30 at the Wayback Machinelink= 2007-06-30 at the Wayback Machine ." Houston Independent School District
  23. ^ Mellon, Ericka. "HISD will close Ryan, tables plan to merge two high schools." Houston Chronicle. March 7, 2013. Retrieved on March 14, 2013. "Ryan, the district's smallest middle school with 263 students, will close at the end of this academic year. The students will attend Cullen, which is 4 miles away."
  24. ^ "AGENDA Board of Education Meeting May 10, 2018." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on October 12, 2018. F1 p. 86/135.

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Coordinates: 29°43′55″N 95°21′55″W / 29.7320°N 95.3652°W / 29.7320; -95.3652