Houston Heights West, East and South

Defining Features

This Historic District Profile was developed to help property owners. It explains the typical features of buildings found in Houston Heights Historic Districts. This can be helpful when you are planning a project that would change your home’s exterior. Most homes in Houston Heights are one or two stories in height. The majority of homes in the Houston Heights Historic Districts feature plenty of large windows. In conjunction with transoms above doors, these windows provided comfort and climate control in the years before air conditioning was readily available. Many of the district’s homes feature architectural detailing such as decorated gables, textured shingles or siding, bay windows, and turned or tapered porch supports. Most homes are built on pier-and-beam foundations.

Historic District designations are used to maintain the character of a neighborhood. Once an Historic District is created, certain rules apply to the entire neighborhood. These rules require that changes to properties in the District must be appropriate. In other words, the historic character of the property must stay the same.

Exterior changes must be approved in advance. The Planning Department can help with this process. If the project is approved, the property owner receives a Certificate of Appropriateness. In many Houston neighborhoods, deed restrictions require that the neighborhood civic association also approve changes to a property. The civic association’s regulations and standards may differ from those of the City. The information shown here refers only to City Historic designation requirements. Property owners should also check with their neighborhood association before beginning any project.

When planning a building project within the Houston Heights Historic Districts, please refer to this chart. It shows which building elements are compatible and which are not. Combining defining elements from different architectural styles into a single design is not allowed. Definitions of common architectural terms can be found in the glossary.

Compatible Incompatible
  • Raised pier and beam
  • First floor typically 4-5 steps above ground level (height approximately 2’-6” to 3’-0”
  • Piers clad in brick or ashlar block
  • Foundation skirted by wood lattice or lap siding
  • Slab on grade
  • Slab on grade (slab is okay if disguised and designed to appear like pier and beam)
  • First floor heights above 3’-0”
  • Brick foundation skirting between piers
  • Front porch, usually single story
  • 50% of building width to full-width
  • Two-story stacked half-width porches
  • At least 6 feet deep
  • May wrap around house on a single side
  • Turned porch supports (Queen Anne)
  • Squared/tapered porch supports (Craftsman)
  • Brick porch support bases (Craftsman)
  • No porch or small porch
  • Two-story full-width porches
  • Wrap around on both sides
  • Fluted classical columns
  • Ionic or Corinthian capitals
  • Wrought iron railings or balusters
  • Gable, hip, or hybrid roof shapes
  • Low pitch (Craftsman)
  • Steep pitch (Queen Anne)
  • Gable ornamentation
  • Boxed, or, open eave overhang with exposed rafter tails
  • Wide eaves (bungalows)
  • Dormers
  • Composition shingles
  • Shed, flat, gambrel or mansard roof shapes
  • Multiple pitches
  • Dentils or classical eave moldings
  • Cupolas or towers
  • Slate or tile roof
  • Complex roof shapes
Exterior Wall Cladding
  • Horizontal lapped, bevel, or drop wood siding for residential structures
  • Patterned or plain rectilinear wood shingles (at gable ends or small detail areas)
  • Brick, stucco or horizontal lap siding for commercial structures
  • Vertical siding
  • Corrugated metal
  • Flat modular panels
  • Half-timbering
  • Stucco (other than alterations to isolated historic examples of stucco contributing structures)
  • Brick (for alterations to isolated historic examples of brick contributing structures)
Front Door
  • Single door facing street (except at inset partial-width porches)
  • Recessed panels
  • Glass lights
  • Sidelights
  • Rectilinear transom
  • Main entry door facing side property line
  • Double doors
  • Round fanlights
  • Pediments
  • Masonry arches
  • Pilasters
  • Large, vertically proportioned
  • Double-hung, single-hung, or casement
  • Wood or wood clad
  • Group (ribbon) of two or three windows in a row
  • One-over-one lights (Craftsman)
  • Two-over-two lights (Queen Anne)
  • Horizontally proportioned windows
  • Masonry arches
  • Large plate glass
  • Fanlights
  • Transoms over windows
  • Pediments above windows
  • Shutters