Sixth Ward, Houston

By: Diana J. Kleiner

Type: General Entry

Published: July 1, 1995

Updated: February 19, 2017

The Sixth Ward, a late nineteenth century Houston political subdivision, was bounded by Washington Avenue and Union Street on the north, Houston Street on the east, Capitol Street (north Memorial Way) on the south, and Glenwood Cemetery on the west. With Houston's largest concentration of Victorian and early twentieth century bungalow houses, the district is considered by some the "oldest intact neighborhood in the city." Sabine Street, which runs through the community, retains its original brick paving. The Sixth Ward was originally part of the two-league John Austin grant, made in 1824. S. P. Hollingsworth surveyed it into large narrow tracts that ran northward from Buffalo Bayou in 1838, but Houston mayor William R. Baker, who acquired property in the area as early as 1839 and by 1858 owned or held mortgages on the majority of the district, is considered the man most responsible for the look of the area today. Baker filed a final plat in 1881 and also developed and served as president of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, which closely tied development of the community to the railroad's activities, lines, and shops. Resident Henry R. Allen and first Houston mayor James S. Holman, who were active in promoting the Houston Ship Channel and Chamber of Commerce, were among early residents who established the neighborhood's tradition of involvement in municipal affairs. Because of its link with the railroad, the Sixth Ward also became the home for a number of craftsmen who worked on the railroad and also expressed their skill on many of the neighborhood houses. The majority are one-story frame cottages, predominantly in Greek Revival style or Victorian adaptations of it. Among larger structures is the two-story Classical Revival house of Henry R. Lighthouse, owner of the Lighthouse Brick Works (later Andy Cordell Brick Company). As the population increased, the municipal government separated the Fourth Ward North District from its parent ward, making it the Sixth Ward in 1876. The original St. Joseph's Church, founded in 1882, was replaced after the Galveston hurricane of 1900 by a new brick church designed by P. S. Rabbit of the firm of Nicholas J. Clayton in Galveston. Settlement and businesses increased during the 1880s, as the Washington Avenue business district came to be known as the "up town," in distinction from the Market Square and City Hall area "downtown." Beginning with a wave of German immigrants in the 1870s, the neighborhood has at various times housed Swedes, English, Irish, French, Swiss, Italian, Polish and Mexican immigrants. By the 1980s several structures in the area had undergone restoration. St. Joseph's Church sponsored a Vietnamese placement program that placed families in restored homes using labor supplied by the church. The Old Sixth Ward Association and the Sabine Association promoted neighborhood preservation and adaptive use. In the 1990s the area was inhabited primarily by Mexican-American and Vietnamese families.

Stephen Fox, Houston Architectural Guide (Houston: American Institute of Architects, Houston Chapter, 1990). Texas Historical Commission, National Register Files.


  • Peoples
  • Vietnamese


  • Communities
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Diana J. Kleiner, “Sixth Ward, Houston,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995
February 19, 2017

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