New Secret Historic District

Houston gets a new secret historic district: Only 25 houses large — and quirky

Houston gets a new secret historic district: Only 25 houses large

Starkweather Homes E 31st 1/2 St
The Starkweather subdivision of Independence Heights has been named the second historic district in Houston located outside of the 610 Loop. Google Maps

Houston City Council's voted to designate the Starkweather subdivision of Independence Heights as a historic district. This marks only the second time this designation has been awarded to a neighborhood outside the 610 Loop.

The subdivision, which includes only 25 lots on E. 31st 1/2 St. between Yale and Cortlandt, features classic 1930s-era homes and is located about two blocks north of the 610 Loop.

Designating a neighborhood as a historic district isn't just for show. Property owners in these districts are limited in how they may alter the fronts of their homes and historic district houses are far more difficult to demolish as they are subject to the city's preservation rules.

The Starkweather subdivision was initially developed between the 1920s and 1940s by Edgar Phelps and his son. The developers sold primarily to African-Americans looking to live in the city of Independence Heights, a separate municipality until it was annexed in 1929. The Historic Designation Report filed by the city notes that the subdivision's architectural styles "reflect both the prosperity of the 1920s as well as the economic difficulties associated with The Great Depression and World War II." 

In 2011, Glenbrook Valley, a subdivision near William P. Hobby Airport, became the first neighborhood outside the 610 Loop to achieve the historic district designation. There are now 21 historic districts in Houston, including Starkweather.