Montrose is a neighborhood situated in west-central Houston, Texas. This neighborhood is considered to be one of the major culture areas in Houston. It is known for its nightlife, art scene, and food scene. In fact, during the 1980s, Montrose is the center of the gay community. The neighborhood is filled with bungalows with wide porches, renovated mansions, and cottages located along tree-lined boulevards. In this article, we are going to know more about the history of Montrose, Houston.
Montrose was initially planned to be a streetcar suburb and planned community back in the early 20th century before River Oaks was developed. J.W Link and Houston Land Corporation developed Montrose; they envisioned the community as a tremendous residential addition. J.W Link was the one who did the planning of the area, and he included four wide boulevards that have extensive landscaping and best curbing. J.W Link also built his house in Montrose, which is known today as the Link-Lee Mansion. A streetcar also ran through Montrose, and in 1911, the neighborhood was platted.
In 1926, Houston’s first apartment hotel, The Plaza Apartment Hotel, opened in Montrose Boulevard. This hotel became the home of several Houston leaders such as Dr. Edgar Odell Lovett, who happens to be the first president of Rice University. The Plaza Apartment Hotel was designed after the Ritz-Carlton in New York, and it cost about one million dollars to build.
From the 1960s to 1970s, Montrose became the center for the growing counterculture movement in Houston. Montrose has it all from alternative community centers, street musicians, artisan studios, hippie communes, and head shops. Back then, the neighborhood became the site of regular protests against the Vietnam War, and you will also see people selling underground newspapers such as Space City!
During the ’70s, Montrose became the center for the lesbian and gay community in Houston. Back then, Montrose had about 30 to 40 gay bars, such as the Bayou Landing, which is considered one of the largest gay dance halls between the coast. Montrose also became the home of several gay activist groups like the Gay Liberation Front.
Besides the lesbian and gay community, Montrose also became the haven for Prohibition honkey-tonks, wealthy socialites, antique stores, motorcycle gangs, artists, writers, and musicians. The neighborhood was even called as Houston’s own kind of Bohemia. Since the 1990s, Montrose slowly became a progressive community, and today, you will be able to see new and remodeled homes, upmarket boutiques, and restaurants and experience higher rents.
Things to Do in Montrose, Houston
- Get your caffeine fix – Montrose is home to several coffee shops that offer seriously good coffee. While you’re there, do not hesitate to check out Campesino Coffee House, because they provide a to-die-for cortadito while you’re in a cozy Latin-American ambiance. If you are a little bit adventurous, you could try having a cup of coffee at Siphon Coffee; they serve coffee using a unique siphon method, which adds interesting tasting notes to your coffee.
- Explore thrift, antique, and boutique shops – If you are in the mood to go for a shopping spree, Montrose is the perfect place. The neighborhood is filled with lovely boutiques, thrift shops, and antique shops where you can find vintage furniture, clothes, and handmade jewelry without breaking the bank.
- Go on a Montrose bar crawl – As we mentioned, Montrose is considered a melting pot for different cultures, so it’s no wonder why this neighborhood is lined with various bars. If you want to experience a relaxed and no-frills jazz bar, we suggest that you check out Catbirds. If you want to try a bourbon-soaked honky-tony, then Goodnight Charlie’s is the place for you. If you feel a bit fancy and want to sip on some world-class wines, we suggest that you head on down to Camerata at Paulie’s.
- Appreciate the arts – Montrose is bursting with cultural and artsy experiences. If you want to witness live theatrical performances, then you should check out Stages Repertory Theatre. If you’re going to have some laughs or enjoy some live rock, then Rudyard’s British Pub is the right place for you. If you want to explore dynamic and diverse contemporary visual art, then the Art League Houston is the place for you.