Heritage, 2010, Volume 1 Page: 9
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In 1920 William Hogg formed a development con-
sortium, subsequently known as Varner Realty Com-
pany, which would build Norhill in three phases. The
site for the planned neighborhood was situated north of
downtown Houston and is thought to have been named KaEty F
Norhill because of this location and its higher elevation
bordering the business district. Development of the first
phase of Norhill began shortly afterwards. The second
phase of development, North Norhill, commenced in u
May of 1923 and included 555 lots; East Norhill, the G
third phase, consisted of 292 lots, and began construc-
tion in June of the following year.
Prices for a lot in North Norhill ranged from $650
to $1,000, and buying incentives included no taxes for <
the first year and no interest for 10 months. Promo-
tional material for East Norhill advertised lots at $900
with similar incentives. The sales brochure capitalized
on the popularity of North Norhill, claiming that "over
a million dollars worth of houses" had been built and
boasting about the neighborhood's rising property val-
ues. "Every one of those families is just so much richer
and every square foot of that land is worth more than
when they bought it," the ad declared. By August of
1924 more than 700 lots had been sold in Norhill, with
home construction well underway, or in many cases al-
The prevailing type of home built in Norhill was the
bungalow. From the early turn-of-the century to about
1925, this architectural style was not only predominant
in Houston suburbs, but it was also extremely popular
nationwide. Bungalows had a compact footprint well-
suited for smaller building lots, and the open floor plan
promoted natural ventilation and air circulation, which
was particularly ideal for Houston's hot, humid climate.
Additionally, variations in the model's basic design al-
lowed planned neighborhoods, such as Norhill, to
maintain a distinctive and not overly-repetitive look. Some The
of the bungalow styles built in Norhill were Colonial, Spanish, rect
Hipped, English, and Craftsman (see sidebar on page 14 for hoo
more on this particular architecture).
House plans for bungalows could be purchased very
reasonably in plan books and from catalogs like Sears and Roe-
buck Company and Ladies Home Journal. Additionally, many
of these companies offered "kit homes," which were essentially
building packages that included all the materials needed to
construct a design plan chosen from the catalog for an upfront
price. Kit homes were popular during the 1920s and 1930s
because mass production of the construction materials and
rail transportation made these houses even more economi-
cally feasible. In Norhill, the Crain Ready-Cut House Com-
pany catalog dominated home construction. Founded by E.
L. Crain, a real estate developer, the Houston-based company
~?~ E!W & ~ dfli ,h; i .:U'pe ,
S . ' - , 7
map of Houston, above, shows the approximate location of the Norhill District (see black
angle). Below: This gabled roof home is an English style bungalow in the Norhill neighbor-
d. Photo by Stan Davis.
offered building packages that featured an assortment of bun-
galow styles manufactured locally. Kathy Cameron, historian
for the community's Proctor Plaza Neighborhood Association
(PPNA), says, "We believe the majority of homes in Norhill
are Crain houses, but we cannot confirm this because these
[kit homes] did not have any identifiers like the Sears' houses
do (these have a stamp on the rafters)."
Physically, streets in Norhill were laid out based on a straight-
forward grid system. Dennis Sigut, a former PPNA president,
says that a few of the neighborhood's long-time residents re-
member that the streets were actually covered in compacted
shell (asphalt paved roads and curbing would not happen
HERITAGE E Volume 1 2010
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2010, Volume 1, periodical, 2010; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254216/m1/9/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.