West University Place, TX

By: Diana J. Kleiner

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: July 26, 2017

West University Place, an affluent incorporated suburb of metropolitan Houston in southwestern Harris County, reflects the impact of automobiles and paved thoroughfares that facilitated suburban living in the 1920s and the construction of suburban shopping districts, such as the Village, in the 1930s. The site was chosen for a community of country homes by Governor Ben W. Cooper of Tennessee in 1910, and the first lots were sold in 1917 by A. D. Foreman, who named the development for its proximity to Rice Institute. In 1923 approximately forty families lived there. The town incorporated in 1925 as an autonomous enclave within Houston and adopted a home-rule charter in 1940 with a council-manager form of city government. Zoning codes and other restrictions assured ethnic and economic homogeneity. Gaps between 1920s subdivisions were filled in with new housing by the late 1930s and early 1940s, when the community was said to be the second fastest growing city in the nation. The model for early homes in the community was Braewood, a 1920s garden suburb built on a network of curvilinear streets with sizeable houses on large lots; in the 1940s and 1950s one-story ranch houses were built in the community's northwest quadrant. In 1930 the community had fifteen businesses and a population of 1,322; in 1942 the population was 9,221, but it was 17,000 through the 1950s. By 1948 West University Place was completely surrounded by Houston. Schoolchildren attended schools of the Houston Independent School District, but the town provided its own water and waste disposal plants, police, and fire department. Few businesses were established because of residential zoning, but by the mid-1960s the town had six churches and a library. The population fluctuated around 15,000 in the 1960s and 1970s and was 12,714 in 1990. The population reached 14,211 in 2000. That figure had increased to 14,787 in 2010, with 319 listed businesses.

Stephen Fox, Houston Architectural Guide (Houston: American Institute of Architects, Houston Chapter, 1990). Peter Papademetriou, ed., Houston: An Architectural Guide (Houston Chapter, American Institute of Architects, 1972). Town of West University Place (MS, Harris County Scrapbooks, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin, 1936).

Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression
  • Texas Post World War II
  • 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, “West University Place, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/west-university-place-tx.

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July 26, 2017

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West University Place
Currently Exists
Place Type
Town Fields
  • Has post office: No
  • Is Incorporated: Yes
Belongs to
  • Harris County
  • Latitude: 29.71569870°
  • Longitude: -95.43212400°
Population Counts
People Year
12,920 1990
14,211 2000
14,787 2010
15,851 2019