Congratulations to what may be the last historic district created in the city of Houston.
The first historic district created under a stricter rewrite of Houston’s preservation ordinance passed City Council on Wednesday, though conservationists predicted future districts will be scarce even as they cheered the milestone.
With council’s 11-5 vote, Germantown Historic District – nestled between Interstate 45 and Houston Avenue, with Alma to the north and Woodland Park to the south – becomes the city’s 20th protected historic neighborhood.
Mayor Annise Parker devoted time and effort in 2010 to strengthening the city’s previously toothless preservation ordinance, which allowed historic structures to be razed even if the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission disagreed.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to be using the historic preservation ordinance that much; we had captured many of the historic districts,” said Parker, who lives in Westmoreland Historic District. “I hope more neighborhoods use it.”
Wendy Parker led the effort to create the Germantown district, the name of which stems from the presence of German farmers in the area north of White Oak Bayou in the late 1800s, according to the city planning department.
“We started to see town homes pop up and historic homes being knocked down at will without any consideration for the history of them or necessarily the condition,” she said. “We wanted to stop that process and make sure the architectural character of the neighborhood was kept.”
See here to learn more about Germantown, which is just east of the Woodland Heights – basically, it’s the neighborhood in the triangle formed by Houston Avenue, I-45, and White Oak – and see CultureMap for more, including a Google Map view of Germantown if you still can’t visualize where it is. I met Wendy Parker at an I-45 public forum last year, and I know one of the reasons she was pushing for this was as a defense against proposal to expand I-45 that would require condemning property in Germantown. I hope this does it for them.