The area that is now West University Place was conceived by Tennessee Governor Ben Hooper in 1910 as an ideal place for country homes. The Houston West End Realty Company developed West University Place’s first addition and put the first lots up for sale in April of 1917. Because the area was close to Rice University, it was named West University Place. In the 1920s two Rice University students named the city’s streets based on names taken from a college English literature book. Hence, many streets are named after authors such as Shakespeare, Dryden and Chaucer.
Early residents were unhappy with the lack of infrastructure and schools, so the city was incorporated in 1924. However, rather than consolidating with its large neighbor, Houston, West University Place adopted its own city charter in 1940. From its humble beginnings as an orphan municipality with muddy streets and little infrastructure, West University Place has grown into a progressive model city.
Mainly a bedroom community of upper-class families, West University Place has been nicknamed “The Neighborhood City.” Over 70% of the people living in West University Place are married, and about 40% of them have children under 18 living at home. Over 96% of the workforce is white collar, and the median family income is over $200,000.
With Texas’ highest concentration of households with incomes of $150,000 or more, West University Place is a metropolitan city with a small town feel where neighbors socialize and kids play at local parks. However, exciting nightlife, fine dining and entertainment options, such as Rice University’s “Twilight Epiphany,” are close by.
The West University City Council is comprised of the Mayor and four Council Members. The Council is elected on a non-partisan basis during May in odd numbered years. Members serve a two-year term and cannot serve more than two successive terms in each office. Council members are Susan Sample, Bob Higley, Kellye Burke, Kevin Boyle and Mardi Turner.
Susan Sample is currently serving her second term as Mayor of West University Place. Susan is a native Houstonian who has lived in West University since 2005. She has a master’s degree in accounting and a law degree from the University of Texas. In addition to being Mayor and City Council member, she is an attorney for Shell.
The Houston Metro Chamber of Commerce serves the city of West University. The Chamber promotes community growth by facilitating local government, community and international partnerships. A primary goal of the Chamber is to provide help to small businesses. The Chamber functions under the direction of a 12-member Board of Directors. Monthly Board meetings and quarterly membership meetings are held.
Schools serving West University Place are part of the Houston Independent School District. Students are zoned to attend classes at West University Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, Lamar High School and The Rice School, all in Houston. West University middle school students have the option to enroll in Pin Oak Middle School in Bellaire.
Private schools serving West University Place students include The Post Oak School and Episcopal High School, both in Bellaire; School of St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church in Braeswood Place; St. John’s School in Houston and St. Francis Episcopal Day School (Texas) in Piney Point.
Several schools serving the area are high-ranking schools. Students attending West University Elementary School rank very high in state assessment tests—in the top 10% in reading and in the top 10% in both math and science. West University Elementary School is a selling point for parents wanting to purchase a home in the area.
The Houston Independent School District (HISD) encompasses all schools serving West University Place. Houston ISD is the largest public school district in the state of Texas and is the seventh largest in the United States. The HISD serves as the community school district for most of Houston and several neighboring municipalities as well as some unincorporated areas of Harris County.
Houston ISD covers all of Bellaire, Southside Place and West University Place and covers most of the city of Houston. Other areas that are covered only partly by HISD include Hunters Creek Village, Jacinto City, Missouri City, Pearland and Piney Point Village.
Two elementary schools serve West University Place. West University Elementary School has 1,274 students. The student/teacher ratio is 17 to one with 98% of students proficient in math and reading. The Rice School has 1,149 kindergarten through 8th grade students with a student/teacher ratio of 17 to one. Eighty-two percent of students are proficient in math and 84% in reading.
Two middle schools serve West University. Pershing Middle School has 1,589 students with a student to teacher ratio of 18 to one. Seventy-nine percent of students are proficient in math and 80% in reading. Pin Oak Middle School has 1,208 students with a 19:1 student/teacher ratio. Ninety-four percent of students are proficient in math and 95% in reading.
Lamar High School serves West University Place students in 9th through 12th grades. Lamar has 3,351 students. The student to teacher ratio is 23 to one. Based on state assessment exams, 78% of Lamar students are proficient in math, and 74% are proficient in reading. Lamar has Gifted and International Baccalaureate Diploma programs.
The private schools serving West University Place are St. Mark’s Episcopal, The Post Oak School, Episcopal High School, School of St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church, St. John’s School and St. Francis Episcopal Day School. One of the most notable of these schools is St. John’s School, a cited as the best private school in Houston.
West University Place homes include carefully maintained vintage homes and recently constructed homes. Most West University homes are beautiful single-family homes with lots sizes generally between 5,000 and 20,000 square feet. Some homes in the city date back to the 1930s. During the 1990s and early 2000s, however, many homes in West University Place were torn down to make room for construction of new homes.
The city is known for its eclectic architectural styles as well as the blue tile signs that mark its streets. The city offers a variety of prices and styles when it comes to buying a home—from original bungalow style homes to recently remodeled older homes to recent and brand new construction. An area of residential stability, West University has ordinances that prohibit large, new constructions from hugging property lines to maintain a certain amount of open space within each lot. These factors make West U a coveted place to own a home.
Currently, there are 174 homes for sale in the city of West University Place, ranging in price from $407,000 to $5.2 million. The median price of homes in West University is $1,164,811. Nearly forty-two percent of all homes for sale in West University list for over $1,212,000. With West U’s mixture of traditional and modern homes for sale, houses in this city are in high demand, despite their higher price tag.
West University real estate shows strong appreciation rates over the years. From 2000 to 2018, real estate in the city appreciated by 135.2 %. The average annual appreciation was 4.67%. In January 2016, the median list price was $1,172,250. By December 2018, the median list price was $1,149,000. In March 2018, the median price spiked all the way to $1,380,000. As of December 2018, the housing market in West University Place was a balanced market, with a healthy balance of buyers and sellers.
West University Place offers a stunning array of shopping, entertainment, recreation, art and culture, nightlife and dining. Nearby Highland Village offers several highly sought after, upscale boutiques and restaurants as well as national retailers. Distinguished jewelry and apparel can be found at The River Oaks District, and unlimited shopping is available at the Galleria and Rice Village.
Nine gorgeous parks in West University have playgrounds, tennis courts, swimming pools and walking trails for hours of exercise and family fun.
Amidst many restaurants in the area, Helen Greek Food and Wine stands out for its world-class Hellenic wine offerings and appetizing Greek dishes. A favorite local taco joint is Torchy’s. For anyone hungry for delicious burgers and dogs, there’s Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Shake Shack and YoYo’s Hot Dogs, all local favorites.
For a taste of local theatrical arts and culture, Main Street Theater is a unique theater that puts on intimate theatrical performances designed to make audiences think and grow.
Colonial Terrace is west of Weslayan Street and near the railroad tracks. It was originally the least developed neighborhood but now comprises about 550 homes. A peaceful atmosphere and good schools make this neighborhood appealing. Rice Court, north of University Boulevard and east of Buffalo Speedway, is distinguished by blue tile street signs. Pemberton is south of University Drive and east of Wakeforest Street and has many older homes that have been restored. This neighborhood contains some of West University’s more pricey homes.