When I first considered covering River Oaks for this series, I figured that I would eventually almost have to, but was unsure how to present it. After all, River Oaks is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the United States, much less Houston. How many people can truly relate to its story?
But, like lots of the Houston neighborhoods I have researched, the story of River Oaks is not only an interesting one, but is also intertwined with the rest of this city, and plays an important part in how Houston has changed over the many decades of its existence.
River Oaks is Houston's first master planned community, and began its existence in the early 1920s when two sons of former Texas Governor Jim Hogg and an attorney partner collaborated on a real estate deal. The attorney, Hugh Potter, had obtained the option to buy land around the River Oaks Country Club, and brothers William and Michael Hogg established and promoted the sale of lots in the Country Club Estates subdivision over the next few years. The development plan encompassed every detail it could to establish River Oaks as a well-integrated community. Deed restrictions dictated that only specific architectural styles were allowed, and that homes had to be valued at $7,000 or more - a significant amount of money in the 1920s. Over the next decade and a half, River Oaks got widespread national attention for its design and planning standards, and that high bar of excellence led to the neighborhood becoming the wealthiest in the Houston area during the '20s.
In 1927, the City of Houston annexed River Oaks, which until that point was technically outside of town, and the annexation added 3,465 acres to Houston's city limits.