Sam Houston Park

SamHoustonPark_feature_BarrettDoherty_2014_01.jpg
Houston, TX
United States
Sam Houston Park

Landscape Information

City Park

Located on the Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston, this nineteen-acre park (the oldest in the city) was called City Park when it was dedicated in 1899. The land once belonged to Nathaniel Kellum, who established a farm, tannery, sawmill, and house on the gently rolling site in 1847. Kellum sold his holdings in 1850 to the Noble family and the house, shaded by live oak, was used as a school. The City purchased the property and remodeled the house, which was used as a museum and, for a time, a zoo. City engineer John Maxcy designed a Victorian Gardenesque park with geometric plantings, a network of paths, a centralized bandstand, and a lake. The lake featured fountains, statuary, and an island accessible by ornate bridges. The western section of the park was an open sloping lawn while the eastern was shaded by cottonwood, live oak, sycamore, and palmetto.

In the early part of the twentieth century, several commemorative markers were introduced: two monuments to the Confederacy, a granite boulder dedicated to the Texas Rangers, and a bell salvaged from a Federal ship captured during the Civil War. In the 1930s, the park underwent several changes, with some design work done by Hare & Hare. In 1954, the nonprofit Heritage Society was established to preserve the Kellum-Noble House. Since that time, nine nineteenth-century structures have been relocated to the park from other city locations, with oversight provided by the Heritage Society. Today, the park is bounded on the north and east by freeways, while high-rise buildings stand to the west and south. Mature trees, meandering paths, an ornate fountain, and a naturalistic pond characterize the park’s landscape.