Sam Houston Park (Houston)
Staying in the downtown area and interested in seeing some Houston history in the shadow of skyscrapers? Located to the west of downtown near city hall, Sam Houston Park is a pocket oasis within 20 acres next to downtown. It contains a variety of historic Houston buildings illustrating different eras of the city’s history.
The original park was purchased in 1900 containing the Kellum-Noble House, which is the oldest surviving building constructed in Houston. Built in 1847 when Houston was a part of the Republic of Texas, it still stands on its original foundation.
In 1954, the Heritage Society was founded to save and preserve the Kellum-Noble house, and eventually they started relocating other historic buildings to the site to preserve Houston history in a then booming city.
At the site today there are varied styles of architecture:
The 1823 Old Place is an example of Texas frontier architecture. The original one-room cedar log cabin was encapsulated inside larger additions in later years.
The Nichols-Rice-Cherry House was built in 1850 and is an example of Greek Revival style architecture.
The Fourth Ward Cottage may predate 1858 and was moved to its current location from Freedman’s Town.
Former slave and influential minister Jack Yates built the Yates House in Freedman’s Town in 1870.
The 1868 Pillot House was one of the first in Houston to have an attached kitchen, closets, and gas lighting. The wrap-around porch and full-length windows were architectural features showing how Houston residents dealt with the heat before the advent of air-conditioning.
The Staiti House purchased in 1905 also reflects the evolution of modern home amenities, including early electrical lighting, an intercom system, and a built-in ice box.
The 1891 St. John Church was built by German and Swiss immigrant farmers for their Evangelical Lutheran congregation. The church was constructed in an interpretation of Gothic Revival style of architecture from the 19th century.
Captain James A. Baker constructed the 1893 Baker Family Playhouse for his daughter Alice. The family moved the playhouse five times and was used for four generations of Baker children.
Entrance to the museum and park is free. The park is open daily from dusk to dawn, and the museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00 am-4:00 pm.
Visitors can listen to an audio tour of the outside of the houses on their cell phone for free. Though the houses on the self-guided tour are closed, the inside of the houses can be seen through the windows. A docent-guided tour is offered four times a day during museum hours for a fee.
There is limited parking in The Heritage Society’s lot behind the Kellum-Noble House or parking for a fee at the Heritage Clay Street Parking lot.
Given the park’s proximity to both the historic buildings and skyscrapers, it is a great place to take pictures.
The Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park
1100 Bagby Street
Houston, Texas 77002