River Oaks: z92 os Suburban Planning
and Development in Houston
CHERYL CALDWELL FERGUSON*
Care will be taken to fix the minimum monetary building limit sufficiently low to
allow the family of moderate income to enter. While wealth is not frowned on,
the modern developer does not seek to build an aristocracy of wealth but rather
an aristocracy of culture.'
THE STORY OF THE RIVER OAKS DEVELOPMENT IN THE EARLY 1920S IS AS IN-
triguing as the growth of the "Magnolia City" of Houston itself. It all
began in 1924 when three prominent Houston businessmen, Hugh Pot-
ter, Will Hogg, and his brother Mike Hogg, purchased one thousand
acres of land for a suburban development, dependent upon the private-
ly owned automobile.2 The three men envisioned River Oaks as a model
suburb that would influence Houston's city planning. Projecting that
the population of Houston would reach five hundred thousand by 1935,
the developers realized the importance of well-planned, restricted
neighborhoods in the rapidly growing city. In preparation, the founders
carefully studied suburban communities throughout the United States.
It was announced that "The section will be something in the order of
Highland Park in Dallas, but on a much larger scale." They sought the
* Cheryl Caldwell Ferguson received her B.A. and M.A. in art history from the University of
Delaware, Newark. She is currently conducting research for her dissertation on Texas suburban
development in the 1920os. The author wishes to thank Professor Damie Stillman, Stephen Fox,
Gary Mangold,Joan Hazelhurst, and Stephen Strom for their help and guidance. Part of this paper
was presented at the Society of Architectural Histonans annual meeting in Houston, March 1999.
' Hugh Potter, as quoted in Will and Mike Hogg, Our Story of Rver Oaks, Chapter II (Houston:
n p., 1926), 31, Box 2J363, William Chfford Hogg Papers (cited hereafter as W. C. Hogg Pa-
pers), (Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin, cited hereafter as CAH).
Y Born in Gainesville, Texas, in 1888, Hugh Potter attended the University of Texas at Austin
where he met Mike Hogg, and they became roommates. Potter received his law degree from the
University of Texas in 1913 and joined the Houston law firm of Gill, Jones, Tyler, and Potter that
same year In 1924 he withdrew from his position at the firm to become the president of the Riv-
er Oaks Corporation. "Resolution, Hugh Morris Potter, 1888-1968, by the Board of Directors of
Bank of the Southwest National Association, Houston," June 11, 1968. Will (1875-1930) and
Mike Hogg (1885-1941), sons of former Texas governor James Stephen Hogg, were born at
their family home, the Varner-Hogg Plantation, in Quitman, Texas. They, too, received their law
VOL. CIV, NO. 2 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY OCTOBER, 2000
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed March 7, 2014.