The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 192
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
advice ofJ. C. Nichols, who had developed the Country Club District in
Kansas City, and they would later hire Nichols's landscape architects
Hare and Hare as consultants and designers for River Oaks.'
River Oaks is one of the most expensive and desirable suburban devel-
opments in the Southwest. Prices of smaller houses in River Oaks start
on average at about three-quarters of a million dollars, making it the
most expensive residential community in the city. However, from its in-
ception, it had been planned to accommodate not only the wealthy but
also those of somewhat more modest means. The initial goal of the River
Oaks Corporation was "to produce, for the Houston citizen, of discrimi-
nating taste, a complete residential community in the most advanta-
geous locality"; furthermore, "all at a cost within the reach of the family
of moderate income." The developers' phrase, "the family of moderate
income," probably meant a middle-class family whose head of household
was just starting his career as a trained professional and was expected to
eventually elevate his family's social position to that of Houston's upper
middle-classes. They always anticipated that in the development there
would be erected "homes ranging from palatial structures surrounded
by large estates down to modest bungalows." This paper will examine
the early planning stages of the development within the context of the
growing city of Houston and the architects who were most actively de-
signing houses in the subdivision in the 192os. Although the developers
conceived a project that was inclusive in terms of the economic status of
its residents, the high quality and restrictive standards of River Oaks
within Houston's wide-open, no-zoning environment eventually led to its
becoming an exclusive area available only to the wealthy. As the twenti-
eth century drew to its close, the careful plans of its founders had suc-
ceeded only too well and moderate-income families were priced out of
River Oaks. From the outset, the developers' idealistic literature gave a
nod to meritocracy rather than aristocracy, but as it turned out, only
degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and practiced law in their father's firm, Hogg,
Robertson, and Hogg, m Austin until a major oil field was discovered on their family plantation
in 19i8. Having left their law practice to form a partnership in an oil firm, Hogg Brothers, In-
corporated, and a real estate firm, Varner Realty Company, they had the means to acquire land
for the River Oaks development and were the initial investors in the company. Hugh Potter pur-
chased the Hogg family's interest in the River Oaks Corporation in 1936 and operated it until
1955, when the River Oaks Property Owners, Inc. assumed control. For more about these men,
see Bruce J. Weber, "Will Hogg and the Business of Reform" (Ph.D. diss., University of Houston,
1979); Roscoe E. Wright, "Tender Tempest: A Tardy Tribute to Will C. Hogg," Houston Gargoyle
(Sept. 21, 1930), 6, 22-23, BruceJ. Weber and Charles Orson Cook, "Will Hogg and Civic Con-
sciousness: Houston Style," Houston Revzew, II (Winter, 198o), 21-27, and Arthur Lefevre Jr.,
"William Chfford Hogg," in The Handbook of Texas, ed. Ron Tyler et al (6 vols.; Austin: Texas
State Historical Association, 1986), III, 654-655.
i "looo Acre Home Section Planned, Country Club Estates Company to Open Tract Along
Bayou," Houston Post, June 1, 1924 (quotation), Box 2J303, W. C. Hogg Papers.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/244/: accessed May 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.