Memorial Bend is a historic neighborhood on the west side of Houston, Texas.
It is made up of 1950s and early 1960s homes built in the modern (contemporary), ranch, and traditional styles. Memorial Bend is considered to have the highest concentration of mid-century modern homes in Houston. Modern architects who designed homes in this neighborhood include: William Norman Floyd, William R. Jenkins, William F. Wortham and Lars Bang. Many of these homes were featured in national magazines for architecture and design such as American Builder, House & Home, Practical Builder, Better Homes & Gardens and House Beautiful.
Memorial Bend is located in the 77024 zip code area just south of Memorial Drive and the Sam Houston Tollway (built through the middle of the neighborhood in 1992). Memorial Bend is within the Spring Branch Independent School District (SBISD). The schools zoned to Memorial Bend are Rummel Creek Elementary, Memorial Middle, and Memorial and Stratford Highs.
The Architecture of Memorial Bend
Just as postwar modern architecture seems harder to find in our city, Memorial Bend is home to one of the largest concentration of 1950s modern houses in Houston. It was 1955 when builders Howard Edmunds and Robert Puig paid $3,000 an acre for a 200-acre plot of land off of Memorial Drive. Due to a lack of funds, they enlisted the help of three investors to form the Memorial Bend Development Company. One investor was William Norman Floyd, an architect whose work helped define the residential look of Houston from the 1940s until the late 1960s. Floyd designed over 500 houses and commercial buildings in the Houston area, several of which are located in Memorial Bend. Other architects such as William R. Jenkins, Harwood Taylor, Lars Bang and Brooks & Brooks also placed their mark on Memorial Bend. Jenkins and Taylor, during the early years of their careers, both worked for Floyd as draftsmen. It was a commitment to making Memorial Bend unique that enabled these architects to provide Memorial Bend with a character and style not found in other postwar Houston-area neighborhoods. It was also a dedication to good design that attracted notable architects and numerous personalities to the neighborhood.
Earle S. Alexander, Jr., retired architect and partner in the firm of Pierce, Goodwin, Alexander and Linville, moved into the neighborhood when he was just a drafstman. When his wife showed him an advertisement for Memorial Bend, Alexander protested that "nothing was past Camp Hudson," a Boy Scout camp off of Memorial Drive. Alexander was one of the first residents in "The Bend" and one of many architects who became associated with the neighborhood. Caudill, Rowlett and Scott founders such as Bill Caudill, Wallie Scott, Charles E. Lawrence and Tom Bullock moved into the neighborhood in the late 1950s, following the relocation of their firm to Houston. Other prominent architects such as Harold Oberg of Jenkins, Hoff, Oberg and Saxe; Gunter Koetter of Koetter, Tharp and Cowell and Gilbert Thweatt of Welton Becket & Associates called Memorial Bend home.
It was during the neighborhood's early years that several of the homes in Memorial Bend were featured in magazines such as American Builder, House & Home, Practical Builder, Better Homes & Gardens and House Beautiful. Floyd's designs, often repeated throughout the neighborhood with changes in the façades, received national recognition from the press and the National Association of Home Builders. While many traditional houses are also located in Memorial Bend, flat, low-pitched and butterfly roofs, clerestory windows and the postwar spirit abound in our neighborhood. Today, one can walk through the neighborhood and see why early advertisements proudly claimed, "Memorial Bend: Home of Prize Winning Contemporaries... more good Contemporaries than any other subdivision in Houston."
"Apart from the fact that street names are derived from the titles of operas, the remarkable thing about Memorial Bend is that many of its houses were designed by the architect William N. Floyd, one of the investors in the subdivision's development. Floyd's crisp, undemonstrative modern style gives Memorial Bend an inherent quality lacking in the surrounding neighborhoods of west Memorial." - Stephen Fox, Houston Architectural Guide, (c) 1999, p. 300
This page is designed to educate Memorial Bend residents and the public about the history and architectural significance of Memorial Bend and to serve as a repository on the neighborhood's distinguished past.
The Spring Branch Memorial area was originally settled by German immigrants in the 19th century. Hedwig Village's name originates from Hedwig Road, which was built on the property of Hedwig Jankowski Schroeder; Schroeder and her husband immigrated from Germany to Texas in 1906 so they could farm.
In the mid 1950s, effort to form a Spring Branch municipality failed. Hedwig Village was incorporated on December 23, 1954 and established a zoning ordinance in 1955. Because of the 1955 incorporation, Houston did not incorporate Hedwig Village's territory into its city limits, while Houston annexed surrounding areas that were unincorporated. Hedwig Village incorporated because residents feared that Houston would annex them. Around 1963, residents of Hedwig Villages and other Memorial villages wanted what Gia Gustilo of the Houston Chronicle referred to as "a more country-like atmosphere within close proximity to Houston."Laverne Coller, a resident quoted in the Houston Chronicle who moved to Hedwig Village in 1963, was paraphrased by Gustilo as "Hedwig Village is unique among the villages in that it was the only municipality to accept the existing commercial sector, which was quite a bonus to the city's revenues."
In 1960 the city had 1,182 residents. By 1966 the community had two schools, one library, and two churches. By 1970 the city had 3,255 residents, and in 1971 the city completed a park. The city had 3,994 residents in 1980 and 2,616 in 1990. Coller said in 2003 that many children of early Hedwig Village residents had begun to settle the Hedwig Village area. In 2003 Coller, as paraphrased by Gustilo, said "Despite the changes, several of her old neighbors remain and the camaraderie with new residents is good."
When Hedwig Village was first established, houses were similar to ranch houses and there were more private dirt roads than paved streets. Katy Road (nowInterstate 10, Katy Freeway) had many neighborhood stores, according to Laverne Coller.
In 2003, Edith Spang, a former librarian at the Spring Branch Memorial Branch Library quoted in the Houston Chronicle, said that as time passed, the civic locations, including the library; the medical care facilities; the shopping venues; and the traffic were all parts of Hedwig Village's growth Spang remarked that Hedwig Village "has definitely changed along with the other villages. It's lost the sleepy little country atmosphere." Coller said that none of the stores that had originally existed when she moved still existed by 2003.
As of 2009 the mayor of Hedwig Village is Sue V. Speck. The council members are, in their respective council positions by number, Barry Putterman, Carrol McGinnis, Bob Dixon, Matt Woodruff, and William Johnson.
Village Fire Department
The Village Fire Department serves all of the Memorial villages. Laverne Coller said that voter turnout numbers are high in Hedwig Village, and that "[t]he people in Hedwig Village are a very responsible, dedicated group of citizens. We have had council people who serve term after term voluntarily even though they don't get much glory."
Hedwig Village operates its own police force. The village is within the Memorial Villages Water Authority. Laverne Coller said that, as paraphrased by Gia Gustilo of the Houston Chronicle, "seems to attract professionals perhaps" because Hedwig Village has its own police force.
Harris County Precinct Three, headed by Steve Radack as of 2008, serves Hedwig Village.
The city operates Hedwig Park. The Corbindale Road park has picnic areas and gazebos. It is in proximity to the Spring Branch Memorial Library. The Houston Business Journal said "Children find the location especially exciting because it's just across the street from the Village Fire Department." A park in Hedwig Village is named after Hedwig Jankowski Schroeder.
In the mid 1950s, an effort to form a Spring Branch municipality failed. Piney Point Village incorporated in 1955 with an alderman form of government. Because of the 1955 incorporation, Houston did not incorporate Piney Point Village's territory into its city limits, while Houston annexed surrounding areas that were unincorporated. In 1960 the city had 1,790 residents. By 1966 the city had one public school and four churches. In 1990 the city had 3,380 residents.
For a decade ending in 1993 the Consulate-General of Japan in Houston refused to pay "user fees" billed to the consulate by the City of Piney Point Village (the consul-general residence is in Piney Point Village). The Japanese argued that this was a tax and that diplomatic facilities should not be taxed. In 1993 Piney Point Village announced that the consulate owed the city around $14,000United States dollars. The Japanese argued that international agreements exempted consulate facilities from taxes, while Piney Point Village said the annual fees were for user services. James Baker, a Piney Point Village alderman, threatened to suspend garbage pickup services and expose the Japanese consulate to ridicule. In September of that year a U.S. State Department letter stated that consulates should pay legitimate user fees, and that consulates do not have to pay for fire and police services. The consulate paid almost $12,000, including $4,500 in interest, to the city. According to Vice-Consul Takaki Takinami originally the city charged $14,915.52 before changing the invoice and deducting police and fire costs. Shojiro Imanishi, who was the outgoing consul-general, agreed to pay $4,500 annually. In 1993 the Consulate-General of Indonesia in Houston and the Consulate-General of Australia in Houston had consul-general residences in Piney Point Village; they paid the fees voluntarily and without controversy.