HISTORICAL – 1955 Meyerland Parade of Homes
(Illustrations courtesy of Burdette Keeland Architectural Papers, University of Houston Libraries, Special Collections.)
by Dr. Stephen James
As prosperity returned to the United States after World War II, millions of Americans looked for new homes. By 1952, postwar housing shortages had disappeared, making home buyers more selective. The home building industry responded with more sophisticated marketing techniques.1 One of the most successful was the Parade of Homes. The local home builders association picked a neighborhood and worked with the developer and the home builders to concentrate their display houses together on one or two blocks. Publicity drew thousands of buyers to tour the furnished model homes.
Houston’s explosive growth in the 1950s made it an important Parade of Homes city, and these events continued to draw buyers throughout the decade as Oak Forest, Glenbrook Valley, Westbury, and other new subdivisions hosted the Parade of Homes. Arguably, the 1955 Meyerland Parade of Homes topped them all. Over 30 model homes lined both sides of the 5100 block of Jackwood Street. Five to 10 thousand people watched as Vice President Richard M. Nixon cut the ribbon opening the affair.2
The Meyerland Parade was unusual for the large number of innovative, architect-designed houses. All had the latest in kitchen technology and one even boasted a bomb shelter in the backyard. Many were traditional-style ranch houses, but a split-level house designed by William Jenkins was a first for Houston. Not to be outdone, builder W.K. “Buck” King offered an ultramodern, flat-roof house with an exposed steel frame designed by Burdette Keeland, Jr.3
Today, many of the Meyerland Parade houses have been demolished to make way for overscaled McMansions. Jenkins’ split-level is gone, but Keeland’s steel-frame house survives. It is well documented in the Burdette Keeland Jr. Architectural Papers at the University of Houston Libraries, Special Collections. Plans and photographs of his Meyerland house, as well as a Plan Book for the 1955 Meyerland Parade of Homes can be viewed online at the library’s Digital Library (digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/2002_005).
Author Dr. Stephen James is Curator of Architecture Planning Collections at the University of Houston’s M.D. Anderson Library, Special Collections Department. Contact him at email@example.com.
1. Joseph B. Mason, History of Housing in the U.S. 1930-1980 (Houston: Gulf Publishing, 1982), 95.
2. Samuel Dodd, “Merchandising the Postwar Model House at the Parade of Homes,” (M.A. Thesis, University of Texas, 2009), 41; R.E. Connor, “Parade of Homes Impresses Nixon,” Houston Chronicle, June 13, 1955, D 12.
3. “Plan Book,” Box 23, Burdette Keeland Architectural Papers, University of Houston Libraries, Special Collections; “Houston’s home builders lead off 1955 Parade of Homes,” House & Home (Sept. 1955), 143.