Joseph Cullinan arrived in Texas following the scent of oil. Cullinan knew all about oil from his days as a roughneck in the old Pennsylvania oil fields. He drilled wells in Corsicana and then, after Spindletop roared into life in 1901, headed to Beaumont, where the story of Shadyside begins.
Cullinan made his fortune in Beaumont, a fortune that started with the Texas Fuel Company, became the Texas Company, then Texaco, and finally Chevron-Texaco. It was Cullinan who put Houston on the map as the energy capital of the world when he moved the Texas Company from Beaumont to the railroad hub of Houston in order to transport his product faster and more efficiently. Other Beaumont producers followed suit and Houston’s oil boom was on.
A trailblazer in every aspect of life, Cullinan declined to settle in the Private Place neighborhoods already established in Houston. Instead, in 1916, he developed his own Private Place neighborhood, Shadyside, on 37 acres purchased from George Hermann in the South End next to Rice University. Cullinan retained noted St. Louis landscape architect and planner George Kessler, who directed the creation of Hermann Park, to lay-out streets and green spaces, and another St. Louis architect, James P. Jamieson, to build brick and cast-stone pylons at the subdivision’s entrances. He named the new neighborhood’s two interior streets for his favorite artist and writer, Frederic Remington and William Wadsworth Longfellow.
In 1920, Cullinan made Shadyside’s original 16 homesites available to selected friends and business associates; within six weeks, all were sold and Shadyside became the preserve of Houston’s oil elite. The roster of founding residents included some of the most famous names in Houston: Robert Blaffer, William Stamps Farish, Hugo V. Neuhaus, and Harry Weiss. The roster of architects who designed Shadyside homes was equally impressive: Harrie T. Lindeberg; James P. Jamieson; William Ward Watkin; Birdsall Briscoe; John Staub; Albert Finn, and Stayton Nunn.
As Shadyside nears its centennial, its magnificent vintage homes have been preserved and cherished by many generations of Houston families. Cullinan’s strong neighborhood deed restrictions are perpetual and, in 1983, residents purchased their streets from the city and erected gates within their entrance pylons to ensure privacy, control, and security. With a location overlooking Hermann Park and Rice University, and proximity to the Texas Medical Center, downtown and all that the vibrant Museum District has to offer, historic Shadyside remains one of Houston’s most celebrated places to live.
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