Checking Up on the Crumbling Mansions of Riverside Terrace

Categories: Architecture

Photos by Angelica Leicht

Remember the crumbling old mansions in Riverside Terrace? Well, good luck finding them. It seems that the folks in the area, which was once brimming with dilapidated old mansions, have been shining things up.

There's always been something just a bit more special about that old neighborhood known as Riverside Terrace. The area, situated right off Texas 288 and bound by Almeda, North MacGregor, Scott, and Wheeler, was originally developed by Jewish families in the 1930s after they were kept out of swanky River Oaks.

Influential residents like the Finger, McGregor, and Weingarten families settled into the area, and built it up with massive, stately homes that were equivalent to what was found in River Oaks. The area's close proximity to everything in the city and the beautiful lush greenery, along with the prominence of those huge estates, launched Riverside Terrace into the same affluent category as its anti-Semitic partner.

But the area, home to a group not welcomed by the elite of River Oaks, was hardly without prejudices of its own, and the entrance of a wealthy African-American named Jack Caesar caused turmoil among the white residents, who were really pretty awful to the guy.

Good old Jack Caesar stayed put though, despite a bomb detonating on his front porch, which also destroyed a couple of other Riverside Terrace homes when it exploded. A number of white families moved to the suburbs -- you know, white flight and all -- and Riverside began its transition into an integrated neighborhood. A number of white families stayed, though, determined to see the area's integration through.

The area eventually found its way to a full integration, with black and white families living next door to each other peacefully and the neighborhood stayed steady for quite some time. Over the years, economic slumps and dips in the housing market took their toll on all of Houston, and while Riverside Terrace survived some of the more dour downturns, it wasn't quite impervious to the ramifications.

A number of homes fell into disrepair after years of neglect, in stark contrast to their stately neighbors, with their crumbling bricks and faded facades a sign of the city's hard times. Still, interest never quite ceased in the area -- the prime location in the central part of the city and the massive, historic abodes wouldn't let it -- but despite whispers of a revival, Riverside Terrace's overhaul moved at a snail's pace.

This story continues on the next page.

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Bradford Ashington
Bradford Ashington

"Another mostly minority neighborhood with history and currently in a rut? Let's gentrify the fuck outta it! After all, the Heights is now becoming too mainstream." -- fucking yuppie hipster douches


It's a long movie too.  Plenty of interviews.  I'm not aware of any other neighborhood in Houston that has a 3 hour movie dedicated to it and it's residents.


I grew up in that area and I've lived pretty much all over Houston(only inside the loop); I still miss the area to this day.  I've always said if I could ever afford it I'd buy a home over there but I don't think it'll ever happen.


I live in the area and trust me it will never be all white or white majority again. It will and should be a reflection of Houston's diversity


@doelfke Any idea of how do I get my hands on a copy of this to watch?? 


@robokat @doelfke 

A few years ago, I went to the website for that documentary (not sure if it's still up).  Instructions for ordering said to mail a check to the director, who lives in Santa Monica, CA.  I skeptically did, along with a letter explaining that I wanted to purchase a copy of the DVD.  A few weeks later, he mailed me the DVD - just like the website promised.

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