The Changing Face of Houston - Timbergrove Manor & Lazybrook

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Just west of The Heights are Timbergrove Manor and Lazybrook, two interesting neighborhoods consisting mostly of postwar, ranch style homes. I spent more than 15 years living on the western edge of The Heights, just a few blocks from Timbergrove Manor, and that neighborhood held a certain fascination for me. It still does, actually.

The area of The Heights that borders Timbergrove Manor seemed so very different in character. It was understandable, and, once again, the odd way Houston neighborhoods developed was to blame. The original homes in that part of the Heights seemed to have been built in the 1920s through the late '30s, while the homes in Timbergrove Manor and Lazybrook share a much more uniform look since those areas were developed in the postwar 1950s. While parts of the nearby Heights still look like a jumble of architectural styles from different time periods, with the occasional strangely placed commercial property thrown in for good measure, Timbergrove Manor and Lazybrook both have a much more planned appearance, and it gives them a certain charm that is different in feel than the more patchwork look of The Heights that is so close by.

The area that both Timberbrook Manor and Lazybrook occupy was originally settled in the early 1800s by farmers of German descent, and was characterized by scattered farms throughout an otherwise heavily wooded region. Nearby Spring Branch was also an area originally settled early on by German immigrants, and it is hard for most modern Houstonians to realize that areas so close to the city's center were developed into neighborhoods so recently.

While the Heights was established much earlier, and had entered into a lengthy period of decline by the time that the first houses in Timberbrook Manor and Lazybrook were being constructed in the early 1950s. Both of the newer neighborhoods featured postwar ranch style houses, most of which are located on very large lots. by inner loop standards.

By the 1970's, The Heights had transformed into a poor-to-working class community that had seen much better days, but what of Timbergrove Manor and Lazybrook? I asked my friend Mark Johnson what it was like back then, since he'd lived there as a kid growing up in the '70s and early '80s:

"I remember thinking that our neighborhood, which was near 11th Street Park and T.C. Jester felt safe and seemed like a good neighborhood. There was definitely a feeling that some of the areas outside of Timbergrove weren't good places to be riding your bike into. The Heights had rough spots and even Oak Forest had a patchy reputation back then, but you didn't feel like you were living in an area surrounded by serious danger either. At least I didn't, and I don't think most people living in the neighborhood did either. I personally don't think that surrounding areas were that bad, but Timbergrove did feel "nicer" or at least newer than some other nearby places."

The neighborhoods were named for certain natural features - Timbergrove Manor for the abundance of trees, particularly pines that grow in the area, and Lazybrook was named for its proximity to White Oak Bayou. Driving through the area, the huge trees in particular are immediately noticeable, and give the neighborhoods a wooded character that is appealing. Of course, there is a downside to living near a bayou, and flooding is always a possibility. In the aftermath of huge storms like Allison, parts of Timbergrove Manor near me experienced terrible flooding, while my home in the Heights a few blocks away seemed to benefit from its namesake elevation.

Like other centrally located older neighborhoods, both Timbergrove Manor and Lazybrook have recently been experiencing a huge demand with home buyers. I was astounded to see that some original homes are selling for close to half a million dollars. While the homes are undoubtedly nice, their location greatly heightens their appeal. Many of the residents I knew when I lived nearby seemed to have a particularly strong attachment to their neighborhoods. Hardly anyone I met seemed to want to ever move, while the area I was in, a few blocks away in the Heights, seemed to have a much more transient population of people buying luxury town homes, staying for a couple of years, and then moving again. For the most part, I didn't see a lot of Timbergrove Manor or Lazybrook homes being bulldozed by developers eager to exploit the area's new desirability, by building some giant McMansion when I drove through the area recently. I was sad to see a little of that going on, but it didn't seem nearly as prevalent as it is in nearby communities like Oak Forest, where entire streets are almost unrecognizable now.

One thing is almost certain, and both Timbergrove Manor and Lazybrook will continue to thrive as new generations of home buyers lured by the area's convenient central location, large yards and charming postwar homes settle in and develop the same neighborhood loyalty that I witnessed while living nearby.


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