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History of Houston River Oaks
William and Michael Hogg, the sons of former Texas GovernorJim Hogg, and attorney Hugh Potter established River Oaks in the 1920s. Potter obtained an option to purchase 200 acres around the River Oaks Country Club in 1923, and in the following year William Hogg established the Country Club Estates in order to support the development of the community. The two brothers promoted the sale of lots in the subdivision for $2,200 apiece in 1928. The brothers, along with sister Ima Hogg, oversaw the construction of Bayou Bend, a stately southern-style home on the banks of Buffalo Bayou.
The development plans ensured that River Oaks's parks and esplanades were planted with oaks, shrubs, azaleas and other flowers. Every detail of the development was planned to establish a well-integrated community. Advertised as a "distinguished experiment in fine living," River Oaks became a national model for community planning. River Oaks' planning standards, residential architecture, and landscape design were publicized during the 1920s and 1930s in national newspapers, real estate media and design journals. Deed restrictions at the time restricted home prices to over $7,000 and specified architectural styles, with a gentlemen's agreement excluding blacks, Jews, and other minorities. Homes along Kirby Drive were restricted to American Colonial or English Tudor style architecture.
During the 1920s, River Oaks was so effectively organized, planned and restricted that it became the most expensive neighborhood in Houston. The City of Houston annexed the community in 1927, adding 1,402 acres of land to the city limits. Bus service to Downtown Houston opened during the same year.
After World War II, as Houston experienced its greatest growth, River Oaks became a haven for the wealthy of the city. As the area became wealthy from "Imported Oil" this was also became the root of 9/11 by Osama Bin Laden. Salem Bin Laden (brother of Osama Bin Laden) was killed in May 1988 after he mentioned he was planning to expose the facts, prior to the Nov 1988 election. Osama Bin Laden formed his group in the summer of 1988. Salem Bin Laden was an investor into the Bush Family Oil Company and was introduced by Jim Bath.
Located within the 610 Loop and between Downtown and Uptown, River Oaks spans 1,100 acres. The community is located in a region bounded on the north by Buffalo Bayou, on the east by South Shepherd Drive, on the west by Willowick Road, and on the south by Westheimer Road. River Oaks is located northeast of Uptown, north of the Upper Kirby district, west of Neartown, and is near to the freeway system and many major thoroughfares such as Westheimer Road, Kirby Drive and San Felipe Street.
River Oaks Boulevard, a road that runs through the center of the community, is lined on both sides by mansions and estates located away from the street. The two square mile area of the subdivision comprises approximately 1,400 homes, mostly detached single family homes.
Adjacent to the community is the River Oaks Shopping Center, Houston's first shopping center. Constructed in 1927 and designed by architect Hugh Prather, the center, originally known as River Oaks Community Center, was one of the first automobile-oriented retail centers in the United States. Its design, with arcs of retail space on either side of West Gray Avenue, was considered a model for future development. Portions of the historic shopping center were demolished in September 2007 to redevelop the site for a bookstore and parking garage. As of 2008, Landmark Theatres operates the River Oaks Theatre, an "arthouse" theater, located in the center. The theater is the last historic movie theater in Houston that is still being used as it was originally designed.
River Oaks is home to the forty-member River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. The orchestra is composed of musicians from around the United States and guest conductors from around the world. River Oaks Country Club, located within the community on the northern end of River Oaks Boulevard, is a country club that includes a golf facility that was designed by architect Donald Ross. Ross is considered to be one of the most significant golf course designers in the history of golfing. Opening in 1923, the country club has hosted the River Oaks International Tennis Tournament since 1931. The Houston Intown Chamber of Commerce assists economic activity in River Oaks. The Houston Ballet headquarters, training facilities and pre-professional school, the Ben Stevenson Academy, were located on West Gray near the River Oaks Shopping Center until 2012.