Riverside Terrace, Houston

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Riverside Terrace is a neighborhood in Houston, Texas, United States. The neighborhood is bounded by Almeda, North MacGregor, Scott, and Wheeler. The community, formerly an affluent Jewish neighborhood, is now an affluent predominantly African American neighborhood. It has been undergoing a gradual change in demographics and aesthetics due to gentrification and revitalization efforts since the early 2000s.[1]


Development of Riverside Terrace began in 1924, and it was initially done by the president of Guardian Trust Company, Clarence Malone, who had cofounded the company.[2] Jewish families moved to Riverside Terrace in the 1920s and 1930s since they were not allowed to settle in other wealthy Houston neighborhoods,[2] including River Oaks.[3] Therefore it became known as the "Jewish River Oaks". At the time most residents of Riverside Terrace were Christian.[4] Allison Wollam of the Houston Business Journal stated that Riverside Terrace "was once on the same affluent level as the swanky River Oaks area."[5] During that period the neighborhood hosted the houses of the prominent Weingarten, Finger, and McGregor families.[5] By the 1950s initial development finished.[2]

In 1952, a wealthy African-American cattleman named Jack Caesar moved to the neighborhood. He stayed despite the fact that a bomb detonated on his front porch.[3] Several Riverside Terrace residents opposed the growth of the community's black population, with some not wishing for racial-based violence to occur in the community and with some on the grounds that property values could decline.[4] In 1959, land clearance began for the construction of the new Texas State Highway 288 freeway, destroying several Riverside Terrace houses. Although Caesar's home was in the path of the freeway, it was moved to another location south of Houston.[6] Many White families left Riverside Terrace and settled in suburbs.[3][6] In the 1960s some Whites who wanted the neighborhood to stabilize as an integrated neighborhood posted signs stating "This Is Our Home It Is Not For Sale." Societal pressure and pressure from real estate agents who wanted to sell expensive homes to Black families pressed upon the remaining White and Jewish homeowners.[3][6] In the spring of 1963 the South Macgregor Promotion Committee formed. It says that it placed the "not for sale" not because it was against African Americans moving in, but because it wanted to prevent block busting. African-American and civil rights figures backed the "not for sale" campaign. In 1963 the community had 175 African American families. They backed the campaign since they believed it would prevent the community from becoming a ghetto. Housing prices declined steadily around the 1960s. The South Macgregor group, which had no black members in 1963, and African-American leaders met and decided that a ratio of between 65-85% White and 15-35% Black would be beneficial to members of both racial groups.[7]

The community gradually transitioned into being majority black and having lower property values and a lower socioeconomic resident base.[4] Wealthy African-American doctors, lawyers, politicians, and university professors moved into Riverside Terrace. As time progressed foreclosure and white flight lead to neglect of several mansions.[6] Several large single family houses were converted into apartments, and additional low income apartment blocks were built in the area. Other large houses were converted into housing for fraternities and sororities.[4] Many area businesses catering to the wealthy closed, and nightclubs moved in their place.[4] Jon Schwartz, creator of the 1985 documentary, This Is Our Home It Is Not For Sale, a film documenting Riverside Terrace, states that the neighborhood stabilized after 1970.[3] By the 1980s area residents were concerned that gentrification from White people and property acquisitions from area universities and the Texas Medical Center may affect their community.[4]

Houstonia magazine stated that Riverside Terrace began to recover in the 1990s.[8] Riverside Terrace house sales did not follow the general housing slump in the United States of the late 2000s.[5] The late 2000s has also seen gay couples and families moving into Riverside Terrace to improve formerly derelict mansions, though some houses remained neglected and abandoned.[6] By 2008 some older properties were demolished and replaced with newer housing. Lisa Gray of the Houston Chronicle stated that this too was a gradual process.[4] Recent improvements include re-development of hike and bike trails along Braes Bayou, aesthetic improvements to Almeda Road (including brick pavement and decorative street lighting), as well as renovation and modernization of some notable older homes.[9][10]


Riverside Terrace is in proximity to the intersection of South MacGregor Way and Texas State Highway 288.[3] It is east of the Texas Medical Center and Hermann Park,[6] and south of Interstate 45 (Gulf Freeway).[11] Riverside Terrace is about 3 miles (4.8 km) from Downtown Houston. Shad Bogany of Bogany Properties said in 2002 that the proximity to major landmarks such as terirary educational institutions, the Texas Medical Center, the Houston Astrodome, and museums is "What sells Riverside Terrace".[3] Allison Wollam of the Houston Business Journal stated that Riverside Terrace is bounded by Scott Street, North MacGregor, Almeda Road, and Wheeler Street.[5] Laura Michaelides of Houston House and Home stated that the boundaries were Almeda and Calhoun on the west and eastern ends, and that Riverside Terrace was on both sides of the Brays Bayou.[12]

Laura Michaelides of Houston House and Home stated that the "gracious" houses on large lots, "large overhanging trees", and a "remarkably hilly" terrain make the area "truly picturesque".[13]

Riverside Terrace has 1,315 houses, which range from 2,000 square feet (190 m2) to 6,000 square feet (560 m2).[3] 23 subdivisions are within Riverside Terrace.[2] Many houses use the Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern architectural styles.[6] The houses built early in the community's history tend to be Colonial and Tudor Revival varieties while the Mid-Century houses were built in the 1950s.[13] Many styles of houses in Riverside Terrace include those developed by John Chase, John Staub, Katherine Mott, and Joseph Finger.[5] In 2002 Katherine Feser of the Houston Chronicle said "Today, the homes in Riverside Terrace are as diverse as the characters that shaped its history."[3] As of 2002 many houses have burglar bars. Feser said in 2002 that "[m]any homes have been refurbished but chipping paint blemishes several of the beautiful old brick homes."[3] Lot sizes range up to 2 acres (0.81 ha), while some lots are small. As of 2002 Riverside Terrace houses were priced from $30,000 ($40,000 in today's money) to $1 million ($1.3 million in today's money).[3] By 2008 McMansions and townhouses began to replace older housing units.[4]

In 2004 some properties in Riverside Terrace sold for below $200,000 ($250,000 in current money), but real estate listings had scarcity. William Tadlock, a real estate agent with Swilley Hudson of Coldwell Banker, said "[p]eople are realizing the proximity to downtown and the Medical Center and are considering moving over there."[14]

Residents of Riverside Terrace include athletes, politicians, educators, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. Sheila Jackson Lee, a U.S. congressperson, said that Riverside Terrace has "a real potpourri of people that like inner city living in a beautiful neighborhood."[3] She added that Riverside Terrace is "a great neighborhood for children."[3]

Government and infrastructure[edit]

Quentin Mease Community Hospital

In the 1991 Mayor of Houston election most Riverside Terrace voters voted for Sylvester Turner; the voter turnout for Riverside Terrace was almost 50 percent.[15][16]

Houston City Council District D covers Riverside Terrace.[17] As of 2008 Wanda Adams represents the district.[18]

Harris County Hospital District operates the Quentin Mease Community Hospital within Riverside Terrace.[5]

The Parkwood Drive Civic Club (PDCC), established in 1924,[19] serves a community in the Riverside Terrace area.[20]


Colleges and Universities[edit]

Riverside Terrance is less than a mile away from Texas Southern University and the University of Houston.

Riverside Terrance is also close to Rice University, University of Saint Thomas, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, University of Houston–Downtown, and Houston Community College - Central.

Primary and secondary schools[edit]

As of 2002 many residents attend magnet programs in public schools and private schools.[3]

Public schools[edit]

Lockhart Elementary School old building

The neighborhood is zoned to schools in the Houston Independent School District.[3] The community is within Trustee District IV, represented by Paula M. Harris as of 2009.[5][21]

Zoned elementary schools serving portions of Riverside Terrace include Lockhart in Riverside Terrace,[22] Thompson,[23] MacGregor,[24] and Poe outside of Riverside Terrace.[25] All area residents are zoned to Cullen Middle School,[26][27] Most residents are zoned to Yates High School in the Third Ward,[28] while some are zoned to Lamar High School in Upper Kirby.[29]

Residents were previously zoned to Ryan Middle School.[30]

The current Lockhart building, constructed as part of the 2007 Bond, has 85,960 square feet (7,986 m2) of space.[31] Turner, a school which was in Riverside Terrace, closed in 2009 and was consolidated into Lockhart. By Spring 2011 a new campus was scheduled to be built on the Turner site.[32] In 2009 Turner, which occupied a building from the 1920s, had 259 students.[33] The HISD board had approved the consolidation on November 12, 2008 despite the opposition of Sheila Jackson Lee and Sammye Prince Hughes, the head of the Turner parent-teacher organization and the president of the Southwood Civic Club.[34] The current Lockhart building was dedicated on August 22, 2013.[31]

Private schools[edit]

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Houston operates area Roman Catholic private schools. St. Mary of the Purification School (Kindergarten through grade 5) and St. Peter the Apostle Middle School (grades 6 through 8), are in the area.[35][36]

St. Mary, located in the Riverside Terrace area, opened in a temporary building on September 8, 1930. The building was blessed on October 27. The Sisters of Dominic operated the school until it closed in 1967. The school reopened in 1980 as a Montessori school.[35]

Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church operates Wheeler Avenue Christian Academy which currently serves students in kindergarten to 2nd grade. The academy plans to expand to 12th grade.[37]

Public libraries[edit]

Smith Branch Library

The Third Ward is served by the Houston Public Library Smith Neighborhood Library at 3624 Scott Street.[38]

Parks and recreation[edit]

MacGregor Park, Riverside Park, Mills Bennett Park, and Parkwood Park are located in the area as well as the Brays Bayou Greenway Trail and the Columbia Tap Trail.

Riverside Park and a section of MacGregor Parkway Park are in Riverside Terrace Section 5.[39]

Parkwood Park is in Section 10.[40]

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Michaelides, Laura. "Riverside Terrace." Houston House and Home. August 2002. p. 72-74.

Reference notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.houstonpress.com/news/houston-101-the-forgotten-mansions-of-riverside-terrace-6746665
  2. ^ a b c d Michaelides, p. 72.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Feser, Katherine. "Much history flows through Riverside." Houston Chronicle. July 9, 2002. Retrieved on April 18, 2009. ""It's a great neighborhood for children," says Lee, who is raising two children there. Many attend private schools or public schools with magnet programs. " and "Schools: Southland Elementary, Cullen Middle School, Yates High School "
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Gray, Lisa (2008-04-18). "A revisit to Riverside". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-04-17. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Wollam, Allison. "Riverside Terrace bucks housing slowdown." Houston Business Journal. August 15, 2008. Retrieved on April 18, 2009. "It’s becoming common practice for homes in the Riverside Terrace area — a historic Inner-Loop neighborhood bounded by Scott, North MacGregor, Almeda and Wheeler[...]"
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Schilcutt, Katharine. "Houston 101: The Forgotten Mansions of Riverside Terrace." Houston Press. Friday August 28, 2009. Retrieved on September 8, 2009.
  7. ^ Morgan, Frank. "Houston Whites Act To Avoid Selling Panic As as Area Integrates."(sic) The Wall Street Journal. August 19, 1964. Retrieved on November 27, 2011.
  8. ^ Holley, Peter, John Lomax, and Todd Spoth. "25 Hottest Neighborhoods" (Archive). Houstonia. June 1, 2013. Retrieved on November 2, 2015.
  9. ^ http://riversidedistricthouston.com/overview/
  10. ^ http://abc13.com/realestate/former-houston-mayors-home-gets-major-makeover/1641148/
  11. ^ Kearney, Syd. A Marmac Guide to Houston and Galveston. Pelican Publishing, March 1, 2009. p. 222. Retrieved from Google Books on October 21, 2012. ISBN 1589805488, 9781589805484. "South of the Gulf Freeway is Riverside Terrace, with both Texas Southern University and the University of Houston at its door. It borders still another recreational facility at MacGregor Park."
  12. ^ Michaelides, p. 72-73.
  13. ^ a b Michaelides, p. 73.
  14. ^ Athavalley, Anjali. "Inner Loop: Finding happiness as an Inner Looper." Houston Chronicle. Sunday July 11, 2004. Wednesday April 18, 2007. Retrieved on November 27, 2011.
  15. ^ Rodriguez, Lori. "Saying goodbye, with no regrets." Houston Chronicle. Saturday November 9, 1991. A31.
  16. ^ Bernstein, Alan and Jim Simmon. "Black vote went solidly for Turner/Whitmire failed to produce split." Houston Chronicle. Thursday November 7, 1991. A21.
  17. ^ City of Houston, Council District Maps, District D." City of Houston. Retrieved on November 5, 2011.
  18. ^ "COUNCIL DISTRICT MAPS > DISTRICT D." City of Houston.
  19. ^ "[1]." (Archive) Parkwood Drive Civic Club. Retrieved on October 21, 2012.
  20. ^ "CONSTITUTION OF THE PARKWOOD DRIVE CIVIC CLUB As Amended November 16, 2006." (Archive) Parkwood Drive Civic Club. Retrieved on October 21, 2012. "The geographical boundaries of the Club shall be that area in the City of Houston, Texas, enclosed by Brays Bayou on the north from Del Rio to Scott Street. Then south on Scott to Griggs Road; then west to Tierwester; then south to Ozark; then west to Del Rio; and finally north to Brays Bayou, the original starting point; also part of Odin Court. This area is further defined specifically as including Sections 10, 13, 14 of Riverside Terrace; Blocks 54-57 and 67-73 inclusive; Terrace Oaks Blocks 1 (lots 1 through 13) 2 and 3; Leopold Place; Sections 56-38 and 57-38, Odin Court single residence sections only (this excludes the apartment section). All as recorded in the Plat Book Maps on file in the office of the County Clerk, Harris County court House, Houston, Texas."
  21. ^ "Trustee Districts Map." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on November 11, 2008.
  22. ^ "Poe Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on April 17, 2017.
  23. ^ "Thompson Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on April 17, 2017.
  24. ^ "Poe Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on April 17, 2017.
  25. ^ "Poe Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on April 17, 2017.
  26. ^ Mellon, Ericka. "HISD will close Ryan, tables plan to merge two high schools." Houston Independent School District. 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."
  27. ^ "Cullen Middle Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on April 17, 2017.
  28. ^ "Yates High Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on April 17, 2017.
  29. ^ "Lamar High Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on April 17, 2017.
  30. ^ "Ryan Middle Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on April 4, 2009.
  31. ^ a b "Third Ward celebrates Lockhart Elementary School dedication". River Oaks Examiner at the Houston Chronicle. 2013-09-02. Retrieved 2017-04-17. 
  32. ^ "Board Approves School Closings and Consolidations." Houston Independent School District. November 14, 2008.
  33. ^ Martin, Betty L. (2009-03-17). "Turner parents told pupils will benefit from union of schools". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-04-17. 
  34. ^ Martin, Betty L. (2008-11-19). Houston Chronicle http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/heights-news/article/Trustees-OK-Lockhart-Turner-consolidation-1753784.php. Retrieved 2017-04-17.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. ^ a b "About St. Mary's Montessori School." St. Mary of the Purification School. Retrieved on April 14, 2009.
  36. ^ "St. Peter the Apostle Middle School." Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Houston. Retrieved on April 14, 2009.
  37. ^ http://www.wacahou.org/our-academy
  38. ^ "Smith Neighborhood Library." Houston Public Library. Retrieved on April 4, 2009.
  39. ^ "Riverside Terrace 5th Block 32 to 35" (JPG, PDF). Harris County Assessor's Block Book, Volume 61, Page 126. Retrieved on July 26, 2017.
  40. ^ "Riverside Terrace Sect. No. 10 Block 54-55-56-57" (JPG, PDF). Harris County Assessor's Block Book, Volume 61, Page 135. Retrieved on July 26, 2017.
  41. ^ Kuntz, Barbara. "MAYORAL DISTINCTION". Houston House and Home. Retrieved 2017-04-17. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°43′01″N 95°21′58″W / 29.717°N 95.366°W / 29.717; -95.366