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Old Houses (built before 1900)


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Hi from a first-time poster, long-time lurker,

Just wanted to say this forum is amazing. I came here looking for info on an amusement park that was at Westpark and the Southwest Fwy and have been lurking ever since :)

Being such a Houston history buff and a bit of data junkie, I recently stumbled across HCAD's public data site where you can download their data files in bulk. Wow!

I've always been interested in old houses in the Houston area. I even remember driving around when I was a kid and being interested in who lived near Westheimer and Hwy 6 in that white old 2-story house. (Yes, I was a strange kid ;)

Anyway, I've posted (as an Excel file) a little query I made re: houses built before 1900. Of over 900,000 A1 (single, family residential) properties only about 200 were built before 1900!

Keep up the good work!

bees-knees

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Hi from a first-time poster, long-time lurker,

Just wanted to say this forum is amazing. I came here looking for info on an amusement park that was at Westpark and the Southwest Fwy and have been lurking ever since :)

Being such a Houston history buff and a bit of data junkie, I recently stumbled across HCAD's public data site where you can download their data files in bulk. Wow!

I've always been interested in old houses in the Houston area. I even remember driving around when I was a kid and being interested in who lived near Westheimer and Hwy 6 in that white old 2-story house. (Yes, I was a strange kid ;)

Anyway, I've posted (as an Excel file) a little query I made re: houses built before 1900. Of over 900,000 A1 (single, family residential) properties only about 200 were built before 1900!

Keep up the good work!

bees-knees

HCAD's year built info is notoriously inaccurate for houses built before ~1950 or so. I mean come on....does 200 sound like a reasonable answer? No.

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welcome bees-knees...thanks for the link. I always find the reference to the blk book info. and neighborhood names under legal description very helpful. I have found the HCAD and HAR neighborhood info. to be inaccurate at times. The actual block book maps & sanborn maps are helpful, sometimes. After a while, you get used to using all sources, together with HAIFers info. to find answers. I have learned from researching to always hunt for two reputable sources for verification or accuracy of statements. Not always easy to do. The internet is full of inaccurate info. as well as correct data. In regards to the no. 200, I ask myself "what were the boundaries of Houston - proper" at that time? I would guess they were small. There were many outlying areas, close to Houston by our standards, but considered independent towns before annexation swallowed them up. Harrisburg is one example. It is a good question. One for the Texas Room at the Julia Ideson Library - Downtown.

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Hi from a first-time poster, long-time lurker,

Just wanted to say this forum is amazing. I came here looking for info on an amusement park that was at Westpark and the Southwest Fwy and have been lurking ever since :)

Being such a Houston history buff and a bit of data junkie, I recently stumbled across HCAD's public data site where you can download their data files in bulk. Wow!

I've always been interested in old houses in the Houston area. I even remember driving around when I was a kid and being interested in who lived near Westheimer and Hwy 6 in that white old 2-story house. (Yes, I was a strange kid ;)

Anyway, I've posted (as an Excel file) a little query I made re: houses built before 1900. Of over 900,000 A1 (single, family residential) properties only about 200 were built before 1900!

Keep up the good work!

bees-knees

I'd like to hear more about this old house at Westheimer and Highway 6.. I live near there and I don't know anything of it.. Please share what you know and what you've found out. Any photos?

theoriginalkj

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Thanks! As suspected the majority are the Sixth Ward homes.

And welcome to the (posting side) of the forum!

What a great spreadsheet! My house is listed in there (built in 1883), and I can vouch for the homes in my Sixth Ward neighborhood. Few years ago, several of us did a similar survey of pre-1900 houses in Harris County and came up with a list similar to yours. I would would like to point out that there are a few houses on your list that are nowhere as old (the first two were built in the 1970's, I believe), and I know they were errors on HCAD's behalf.

Actually I do know of at least 15 pre-1900 houses that aren't listed on your Excel spreadsheet. There are three antebellum houses in the Second Ward and two 1880's era houses on Budde Cemetery Road up north near Westfield. There are a few pre-1900 houses in the Klein/Louetta area that were relocated by the school district(s), which I imagine threw off the HCAD assessors. In addition there are quite a few houses that were moved from the Sixth Ward to the northern suburbs in the 1970's when Knapp Chevrolet expanded its storage lot. Furthermore, there is a late 1830's house overlooking the bay at Red Bluff (Oleander Rd) and HCAD has the date wrong at 1854.

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I'd like to hear more about this old house at Westheimer and Highway 6.. I live near there and I don't know anything of it.. Please share what you know and what you've found out. Any photos?

theoriginalkj

That house must either be long gone or well hidden. Westheimer @ 6 is commercial on all four corners.

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That house must either be long gone or well hidden. Westheimer @ 6 is commercial on all four corners.

That corner was called "Miles Junction" when I was young. Named for the family of two brothers that lived at the intersection and up along Addicks Road. I also heard the family heirs made a boat load of money selling their land in the mid 70's.

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Just thought I'd add my .02 for anyone researching their old house...our Heights house was built around 1894 but HCAD has 1920 on the records. I wasn't surprised to see that my address was not on the list Bees Knees posted. Many homes in our area are reported being built in 1920 for some unknown reason. My neighbor's dad was born in our home, so I knew it was built before 1900. Since I knew my neighbor's maiden name, I was able to look up residency by old phone books through the microfiche files at the downtown library. Unfortunately my quest ended at 1894 because they couldn't find previous year phone books on microfiche.

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That figure of 200 homes is probably WAY off. Appraisal districts generally get their "year built" dates from the date of the last building permit filed on the property. So if you have a house built in 1890 that was remodeled or added on to in 1930, the year built will show as 1930 in their records. Also, sometimes they will lose records for large numbers of properties, and just assign a random date, 1950 etc., across the board when they recreate the files. I've found the appraisal district records to be pretty unreliable (for older homes) everywhere I've lived.

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That figure of 200 homes is probably WAY off. Appraisal districts generally get their "year built" dates from the date of the last building permit filed on the property. So if you have a house built in 1890 that was remodeled or added on to in 1930, the year built will show as 1930 in their records. Also, sometimes they will lose records for large numbers of properties, and just assign a random date, 1950 etc., across the board when they recreate the files. I've found the appraisal district records to be pretty unreliable (for older homes) everywhere I've lived.

I agree. My grandparents owned a house in the 1200 block of Ashland that they purchased in 1925. It was close to 40 years old then. The house was remodeled (tastefully) after my father and his siblings sold it around 1990, but it is clearly obvious to anyone looking from the street, that it was built before 1900.

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That figure of 200 homes is probably WAY off. Appraisal districts generally get their "year built" dates from the date of the last building permit filed on the property. So if you have a house built in 1890 that was remodeled or added on to in 1930, the year built will show as 1930 in their records. Also, sometimes they will lose records for large numbers of properties, and just assign a random date, 1950 etc., across the board when they recreate the files. I've found the appraisal district records to be pretty unreliable (for older homes) everywhere I've lived.

The list includes a number of houses that aren't even in Houston, so the actual number on the list is closer to 170 than 200. Remember that Houston had fewer than 50,000 people in 1900 and the city's physical limits were considerably closer to Downtown. You should probably sort by zipcode to get a better idea of which houses are actually in what was Houston in 1900. (Or in Houston Heights.) The list doesn't even include the Kirby Mansion, located at 2000 Smith Street (77002). That house was built in 1884, remodeled in 1895 and again in 1925. I don't know if the 2000 Smith Street location is its original location. A number of the older houses were moved from their original locations (in what is now Downtown) to more "suburban" locations (e.g., the Waldo Mansion on Westmoreland).

post-46-12583305641331_thumb.jpg

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  • 5 years later...
  • 3 years later...

    

On ‎11‎/‎2‎/‎2009 at 10:40 AM, Heightsite said:

Just thought I'd add my .02 for anyone researching their old house...our Heights house was built around 1894 but HCAD has 1920 on the records. I wasn't surprised to see that my address was not on the list Bees Knees posted. Many homes in our area are reported being built in 1920 for some unknown reason. My neighbor's dad was born in our home, so I knew it was built before 1900. Since I knew my neighbor's maiden name, I was able to look up residency by old phone books through the microfiche files at the downtown library. Unfortunately my quest ended at 1894 because they couldn't find previous year phone books on microfiche.

When I first moved to the Heights I noticed all the 1920 build dates too. A neighbor suggested maybe the county didn't start keeping good records until after most of the houses were built. If it was 1945 for example, and they didn't know the build date but knew the house was at least 25 years old, they just listed it as 1920. My house and the two on either side were all listed as 1920. The other two houses were slightly wider than mine so pulling into the driveway meant a tight squeeze between two houses. My house being about 5' narrower left me with a wider driveway. My house probably was built around 1920, but the other two were probably built a couple of decades earlier, before owning a car was a consideration. Just a theory.

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Since my original post, I found out that when the COH annexed The Heights, mostly all deeds were recorded as 1920. I’m guessing it was cost prohibitive and lack of records to assign actual dates.

 

On a side note, since The Heights was its own city, it was never part of a ward.

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10 minutes ago, Heightsite said:

Since my original post, I found out that when the COH annexed The Heights, mostly all deeds were recorded as 1920. I’m guessing it was cost prohibitive and lack of records to assign actual dates.

 

On a side note, since The Heights was its own city, it was never part of a ward.

The City may not have issued permits then, which is the only real way to know the build date. I know that the house my granddad lived in on W 17th was build prior to 1911, because that's when they moved there.

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8 hours ago, Heightsite said:

Since my original post, I found out that when the COH annexed The Heights, mostly all deeds were recorded as 1920. I’m guessing it was cost prohibitive and lack of records to assign actual dates.

 

On a side note, since The Heights was its own city, it was never part of a ward.

Deeds are recorded with the county. Unless that wasn't the case back then, wouldn't Heights properties have already been recorded since the 1890's?

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17 minutes ago, HardcoreHoustonian said:

Deeds are recorded with the county. Unless that wasn't the case back then, wouldn't Heights properties have already been recorded since the 1890's?

I found this on the Texas State Library website so it's not that they weren't keeping records: The recording of deeds of trusts or mortgages has been required by law since 1846, initially in the Deed Record, but beginning in 1879 in the Deed of Trust or Mortgage Record. Like the companion Deed Record, the Deed of Trust Record must be indexed by law; in this instance, to mortgagor (direct) and mortgagee (reverse).

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1920 was likely picked as an arbitrary place holder number when the tax records were computerized many moons ago, or maybe when HCAD and the other appraisal districts were created effective 1/1/1980.  Building permits weren't required until some time in the 1940s or 50s, IIRC.

 

One way to estimate when a house was built is to get the date stamps off of any original plumbing fixtures that may remain.  

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