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In the green:  one of the home’s  patios overlooks the Houston skyline at the 2011 Home Tour and Art Walk.
In the green:
one of the home’s
patios overlooks the Houston skyline at the 2011 Home Tour and Art Walk.

East Montrose Home Tour, Chef’s Tasting Tour, and ArtWalk 2013

Residents and restaurateurs have teamed together to add a taste of local restaurants to the 2013 Home Tour and Art Walk in the diverse, close-in neighborhood known as East Montrose. The tour takes place Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Unique to the home tour concept, in many of the homes local chefs offer samples of their favorite dishes. Featured restaurants include Montrose hot spots Sorrel Urban Bistro, Bocados, Cucharra, and Gratifi Kitchen.

Five homes are showcased on the tour, including a Craftsman bungalow built in 1922 by a Houston mounted patrolman, which was completely renovated in 2012, but retains its original floors and clawfoot bathtub; a 1946 stucco apartment building that had once seen better days, then in 1997 was converted to three contemporary-style residences; a brick townhome dating back to 1985 when new development was just starting to find its way into this desirable and quirky community; a modern two-story home with open floor plan and contemporary details; and a 1914 American Four Square in the style of the Sears Catalog homes, slated to be razed for a townhome development but saved at the last moment by the current owner, who has done extensive remodeling to this gracious home. This home is next to Peggy Shiffick Park, one small lot deeded to the City decades ago as a park, specifically to preserve the record-holding Live Oak tree that dominates it. Saving the home saved the tree.

East Montrose is home to a large artist community, and many studio doors are open to home tour goers, offering a glimpse into the spaces where creativity takes form. East Montrose was platted in the early 1900s—back when Houston’s population numbered fewer than 300,000, and when a streetcar ran down what is now Fairview. Many original homes and cottages—some dating to the 1890s—stand side-by-side with  modern glass and steel residences built in the last decade, giving rise to the eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary style which is the hallmark of the neighborhood. During the mid-20th century, artists and other free-thinking individuals flocked to East Montrose. In the 1970s, “health food” was an attractive new concept, and the Houston Food Co-op opened a storefront here where members stocked up on granola and bean sprouts. The co-op boasted the first Birkenstock franchise in Houston. Across the street and a decade earlier, a corner house was home to the First Pagan Church of Houston.

In recent years, East Montrose has become home to urban professionals, young families, and empty nesters, all drawn to the neighborhood’s living mosaic of diversity, its proximity to downtown, restaurants, theaters, and galleries, and its century-old trees, walkability, and friendly neighbors.

For Montrose-area history buffs, Obedience Smith, Pioneer of Three American Frontiers—a lively read by local author Audrey Cook—is available for sale. The book tells the fascinating life story of Obedience Smith, an undauntable widower who moved her eleven children to the Mexican province of Texas in 1836 and became the original landholder of most of what is now Montrose, Midtown, Rice University, and River Oaks. Tales of her battles over land rights, of Indian wars, and of settling new frontiers in many states and territories of our young country are recounted in great detail. This biography includes depictions of other interesting characters, such as Smith’s grandson, who rode with the Jesse James Gang; Margaret Foster, the first librarian in Houston; and second president of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau Lamar, who lived near Woodrow Wilson Elementary School. The book also contains historical maps, charts, and photographs.

Tickets are $20 and include the Home Tour and Chefs’ Tasting Tour (while quantities last), and can be purchased online at eastmontrose.org or the day of the tour at any tour home. The Art Walk is free and open to all. East Montrose is just west of downtown, and is bordered by Montrose, West Gray, Genessee, and Fairview. Balloons and signs direct tour goers to the homes.

The Home Tour and Art Walk are easily walkable, and walking or bicycling is encouraged, as some streets are narrow and street parking is limited. Many popular restaurants are within walking distance, so tour goers can make a day of it.

For more information, contact Bill Maxey at 730/520-0025 or Julie Young at 713/528-5614 or [email protected] Featured homes: 414 Bomar, 720 Bomar, 906 Willard, 613 West Drew, and 2319 Stanford.

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