Bellaire, on Interstate Loop 610, is surrounded by Houston, West University Place, and Southside Place in southwest Harris County. William Wright Baldwin, acting as president of the South End Land Company, founded Bellaire and Westmoreland Farms after purchasing the 9,449-acre Rice Ranch in 1908. Baldwin was a native of Iowa and nationally known as vice president of the Burlington Railroad. The development was six miles from Houston on the eastern edge of the Rice Ranch, so named for former owner William Marsh Rice. Promotional advertising in 1909 explained that Bellaire was named for the area's Gulf breezes, but Baldwin may have named it for Bellaire, Ohio, a town served by his railroad. By 1910 Baldwin had invested over $150,000 in capital improvements to turn the treeless prairie into an attractive location for residences and small truck farms. From the site to Main Street in Houston he constructed Bellaire Boulevard. He also incorporated the Westmoreland Railroad Company to build an electric streetcar line down the center of the boulevard. The streetcar, known as the "Toonerville Trolley," operated from December 12, 1910, until bus service replaced it on September 26, 1927. In 1910 horticulturist Edward Teas was induced to move his nursery from Missouri to Bellaire Boulevard to implement landscaping plans drawn by landscape architect Sid Hare. A Bellaire post office opened in 1911.

The South End Land Company advertised nationwide to attract Midwestern farmers and others who were eager to escape harsh winters. Bellaire was promoted as an exclusive residential neighborhood and agricultural trading center with the conveniences of city living and reliable access to Houston. On June 24, 1918, with a population of about 200, Bellaire obtained a general-law city charter. The population reached 1,124 by 1940. Houston's expansion after World War II transformed Bellaire into a popular suburb, but geographical growth was halted when Houston annexed the surrounding land on December 31, 1948. In April 1949 Bellaire adopted a home-rule charter with a council-manager government. The city had 10,173 residents in 1950. The Swedish general consul's office opened in Bellaire in 1953. At one point, the city was also home to the consulate general of Honduras. However, both offices had relocated to Houston by 2009.

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Jeff Dunn | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Bellaire is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Bellaire is classified as a Town


Latitude: 29.70390530
Longitude: -95.46223100

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated


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