MONTROSE TEXAS: The Transformation of a Neighborhood

Produced by Sunset Productions in association with the Montrose Counseling Center

MONTROSE, TEXAS: THE TRANSFORMATION OF A NEIGHBORHOOD is a 28-minute documentary telling the story of one of the most colorful and legendary neighborhoods in Texas. It airs June 3 at 9:00 p.m. on KUHT Channel 8.

Often called the Greenwich Village of Houston, Montrose is charming, weird, artsy, wacky, Bohemian, and entertaining. It is the home of trendy restaurants and clubs, coffee houses, all-night diners and delis, outdoor cafes, museums, art galleries, tattoo parlors, eclectic shops, beautiful old mansions and 1920s bungalows.

In the early 1900s, real estate developers chose a barren prairie land southwest of Houston to develop a new neighborhood for the citys well to do. They named it Montrose and the main thoroughfare, Montrose Blvd., was lined with huge mansions inhabited by the citys elite.

The neighborhood deteriorated over the years. During the hippie movement of the 1960s, free-thinkers, flower children, musicians and artists discovered it and began to move in, influencing the local culture and club scene.

By the 1970s, Montrose had become the gay mecca of Texas; gay men and women flocked there because they felt safe and comfortable. Montrose had become seedy, but these men and women saw its potential and began buying the rundown properties. Homes were restored and the neighborhood became an attractive place to live; soon property values and taxes went up.

“I can think of no other neighborhood in Texas has the character, history and anything-goes attitude of Montrose,” comments associate producer Sally Huffer.

The documentary captures the history of the area, the changes in the 1960s and 70s and the current renaissance. Interviews with long time residents such as Sharon Montgomery, Carol Nelson and Roy Pearson, community activists such as Ray Hill and Jimmy Carper, and politicians such as Annise Parker and Sue Lovell bring back memories of the Art Deco-designed Tower Theater, the popular Westheimer Arts Festival, and the outrageous Montrose party scene.

Montrose is being transformed as Yuppies move in and the bungalows are replaced with town homes and high rises. Its losing its Bohemian atmosphere, says one resident.

Realtor Suzanne Anderson takes viewers on a tour of Montrose, showing some of the historic and popular landmarks unique to the area. Historic film footage of the area and the residents provides a nostalgic glimpse into Montrose in an earlier period. The program also takes a look at the rich and famous who grew up in the area.

MONTROSE, TEXAS is an interesting, captivating look at the history of a neighborhood, its transformation into an upscale community, and the societal issues that come with that.
The DVD can be purchased at HoustonPBS.
Contact Programming Dept. at HoustonPBS, KUHT. 713/748-8888

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