With its close proximity to the Galleria, the Medical Center and downtown Houston, Bellaire is a community that prospective buyers find irresistible. Recently experiencing a building boom, with older homes being replaced with new construction, Bellaire offers a diversity of residential choices for the new home buyer. The Bellaire of today is certainly a far cry from the original two-square-mile parcel bounded by Palmetto, Jessamine, First and Sixth Streets.
Soon after the turn of the century, W.W. Baldwin purchased 97,000 acres of land known as the DeMoss Ranch; the original town site of Bellaire was part of this purchase. Baldwin had no idea his rural setting, which he renamed Westmoreland Farms, would become a bustling city with 15,000-plus residents.
Bellaire was chartered on June 24, 1918 and no taxes were assessed or collected during the city’s earliest years. The only compensated employee was the marshal, whose salary was funded by fines levied on the owners of straying cattle! U.S. Census figures reported 26 homes in Bellaire in 1919 and by 1929 there were 75, increasing to 330 by 1939 when the city adopted its first zoning ordinance. A burst of growth followed and by 1950, there were over 3,000 homes with that number doubling during the next ten years. Bellaire’s physical boundaries were gradually extended, one-half mile at a time. During 1949, the city of Houston annexed the land on three sides of Bellaire and West University formed the fourth boundary, thus eliminating any possible plans for Bellaire’s future expansion.
The construction of Loop 610 had a significant impact on Bellaire. The Loop split the city into an east/west division, altered traffic patterns permanently and, between 1962 and 1968, displaced 250 homes. Since 1939, the issue of zoning has been a controversy between residents who favor business expansion and those who want to retain Bellaire’s identity as a residential community within the expanding Houston metropolis.
One thing all residents agree on is that Bellaire is a grand place to live. Quiet neighborhoods, excellent libraries, parks and recreational facilities, award-winning schools, and quality city services make Bellaire one of Houston’s best values. When the city changed its long standing no-growth building permit process in the 1980s, a building boom occurred. Builders flocked to Bellaire and purchased small, post-World War II housing to tear down and rebuild. The result is a divergence of architectural styles with spacious homes on large lots. Home prices begin in the $200,000s for lots and range to upwards of $2 million for recently constructed homes.
Bellaire combines the charm and ambiance of a warm, small-town setting with extraordinary amenities, big city conveniences, and an accessible location. Residents agree that Bellaire is truly an outstanding community in which to raise a family.
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