Best of Houston

The Changing Face of Houston - Riverside Terrace

Just southeast of downtown, near the University of Houston, and bordered by Highway 288 on the west and the Third Ward to the south, lies Riverside Terrace, an often forgotten older Houston neighborhood with an interesting past.

Decades ago, the city was not the diverse melting pot that it is today, and Houston's affluent Jewish community was prohibited from moving into the wealthy River Oaks neighborhood because of societal prejudice. But those prominent Jewish families included some of Houston's richest business people, and the mansions they built in Riverside Terrace reflected that status. Families such as the Fingers, Sakowitzes, and Weingartens built enormous homes on huge lots that were the rival of anything in River Oaks at that time. Many of the early neighborhood houses were built by notable architects such as John Staub and Bolton & Barnstone and were designed in the late art deco style popular in the 1930s and '40s. In a bit of irony, Riverside Terrace became locally known as "The Jewish River Oaks," since it rivaled the estates in the wealthy neighborhood they'd been excluded from.

As time went on other styles emerged in the area, including mid-century modern homes built in the 1950s.

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Chris Lane is a contributing writer who enjoys covering art, music, pop culture, and social issues.