Texas History: A look back at what Bellaire looked like nearly 100 years ago

A group of 39 residents, men, women and children, and three operators and conductors stand on and around the first trolley car to Westmoreland Farms.
A group of 39 residents, men, women and children, and three operators and conductors stand on and around the first trolley car to Westmoreland Farms. (Houston Public Library, Bellaire City Library Collection)

BELLAIRE, Texas – Located along Loop 610, you’ll find a 3.6 square mile city surrounded by Houston, West University Place and Southside Place. Known as the City of Bellaire, this suburb of Houston offers plenty of restaurants, coffee shops and parks for its population of nearly 17,000. Yet,100 years ago, this town was incorporated with just 200 residents.

Neighborhood guide: Everything you need to know about Bellaire

Founded in 1908 by William Wright Baldwin, president of the South End Land Company, Bellaire was an exclusive residential neighborhood in southwest Harris County. In the early development of the city, Bellaire was targeted by Midwestern farmers as an agricultural trading center.

According to Bellaire’s historical marker, Baldwin founded the city and Westmoreland Farms on part of a 9,449-acre ranch owned by William Marsh Rice.

It’s believed the city of Bellaire was named for the area’s Gulf breezes according to promotional advertising, others believed the city was named after Bellaire, Ohio, a town which served Baldwin’s railroad.

At the time, the city was bounded by Palmetto, First, Jessamine and Sixth (now Ferris) streets.