John Wiley Link had big dreams when he purchased more than 3,300 acres southwest of downtown in the early 1900s, spending more than a million dollars on infrastructure to create the Montrose neighborhood. His vision was for mansions to line the Lovett, Montrose, Yoakum and Audubon Place boulevards, facing the esplanades, while allowing for more modest homes along the cross streets.
Within ten years magnificent homes were built by some of Houston's most prominent citizens, though their architectural styles were all over the map: Art Deco, Cape Cod, Colonial and Mission Revivals, Craftsman, Prairie School and Queen Anne. Long story short, families began to move to the 'burbs after World War II and the neon glow of commercial enterprise began to take hold, though to a lesser extent in what is now known as Audubon Place.
Still predominantly residential, the Audubon Place Association formed in 1995 and took back the reins, reinstating deed restrictions to preserve the neighborhood's character and raising money for beautification projects.
"Montrose is an outlandish neighborhood known as the heart of Houston and recognized for its diversity," says Connie Ruiz, a real estate agent with Hardee & Company. "In Montrose, there's something for everyone to do — from some of the highest-ranked restaurants to Houston's historical museums and galleries. It's all about culture. Let's not forget Montrose is one of the most active neighborhoods for nightlife."
Ruiz has listed an absolutely stunning property at 908 Kipling, though the photos don't do it justice. Built in 1920 on a 6,000 square foot lot, the Mission Revival home features an amazing stained glass front door that opens onto an enclosed front porch. Architectural details within include a period fireplace, a glass brick privacy window, and a mix of hardwoods and tile throughout. In addition to pavers in the front yard, there's a massive wooden deck under a large tree in the back yard. This property (shown at the top of this page) has been listed for $700,000.
"It's a nice mix of what a historic district should be — not just luxury single family homes," says Camelot Realty's Nick Panzarella about the neighborhood. "You've got gorgeous historic mansions along the Audubon esplanade, next to small businesses, next to affordable little apartment buildings with courtyards that feel like they were yanked from the French Quarter in New Orleans."
Panzarella labels the neighborhood extremely walkable. Some of those neighborhood businesses he cites — Outsmart Magazine, Acadian Bakery and Bike Houston — only add value for homeowners.
"The craftsman style homes and old live oaks and crape myrtles give you a feeling of what Houston might look like it if had maintained a unified vernacular: Southern tropical," adds Panzarella.
Panzarella has the listing for a multi-family property at 607 Harold that was built in 1930. Coffered ceilings, period fireplaces, covered porches and balconies, and a checkerboard tile all add to this home's unique character. It's on the market for $699,000.
Mark Davis of Davis Commercial has listed several properties in this neighborhood, and labels Audubon Place a jewel and "one of the most vibrant, interesting and colorful areas of Houston."
“Location wise, it can’t be beat being minutes from the The Medical Center, downtown, and Greenway Plaza," says Davis. "Also one of the more walkable parts of H-Town with award-winning restaurants an easy stroll away." He's right, too: fairly close are Ono Poke, Nippon and Osaka Japanese restaurants, The Pit Room, The Black Labador, SweetCup Gelato, Siphon Coffee and Chapultepec Lupita.
Davis's listing at 3709 Montrose was built in 1910 and would work as a functional office building — there's tons of parking — or as a multi-family investment. It has seven bedrooms, a charming arched roof portico over the front door and a shaded patio area out back. The property is listed for $1.05 million.
Built in 1920, this two story, six bedroom property at 909 Marshall features fanlights, Mission Revival doors and a Cape Cod style portico. It could be used as a commercial property and is listed with Davis Commercial for $889,000 (selling price) or $3,879 (monthly rental).
Hardwoods abound in this multi-family property at 919 Marshall that was built in 1936. It's been retrofitted with central heat and air — no window units here — and has been listed by Davis Commercial for $849,000 (selling price) or $7,460 (monthly rental).
There's a waiting list to rent at this quaint boutique apartment building at 630 West Alabama. Built in the 1940s, its architectural details — Craftsman style windows and cornices — have been preserved, while several units still feature French doors with the original hardware. The property is listed for $979,000 by Chris Mastrangelo, designated Broker and CEO of Habitation Realty, who labels the Audubon district "the perfect balance of walkability, convenience and stunning historic properties." For Mastrangelo, it's one of Houston's best Inner Loop neighborhoods overall.
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Other properties listed for sale in Audubon place include:
636 Hawthorne, a Prairie-style home built in 1920 that has since been elevated four feet and reconstructed with an eye toward preserving the architectural details of the Arts and Crafts moment. It's listed for $1.56 million.
613 Harold, a Craftsman-style home built in 1932 that has amazing built-ins, hardwood floors inlaid with cherry, and a thoroughly modern kitchen. It's listed for $619,900.
Fun fact: According to the Audubon Place Association website, a live oak at 3611 Audubon Place is registered with the Harris County Tree Registry. With a circumference of 181 inches, a height of 54 feet, and a crown spread of 114 feet, it ranks ninth among Harris County live oaks (based on crown spread).
For more information about the Audubon Place Historic District, visit houstontx.gov/planning/HistoricPres/HistoricPreservationManual, or visit the Audubon Place Association at audubonplace.net.