People ask us all the time, “What is the Houston Museum District? Where is it?”
Of course it happens to be the home of Doctor Gary Brewton’s office. But that may not help people find it.
If we answer with a question, “Do you know where the Museum of Fine Arts Houston is?” some nod yes. But not everyone knows how to find the MFAH without using their GPS.
And many long time Houstonians (not to mention newcomers to Houston) think the entire Museum District is just the area along the intersection of Bissonnet – Binz, Main Street and Montrose Boulevard.
But the Museum District is much more than that. It extends north of Hermann Park all the way to Midtown.
Discover Quiet Caroline Street
Caroline Street is a great way to get to know the district, so we’ll take a quick tour. Quieter than Fannin or Main Street located a few blocks west, Caroline Street starts right in Hermann Park Drive. This southernmost block of Caroline passes right in front of the main entrance to the Houston Museum of Natural Science on the west side and the new McGovern Centennial Gardens, with its distinctive ziggurat hill, on the east side of the street.
One block north of Hermann Park Drive is the confusingly similar sounding Hermann Drive. (How to remember the difference? It’s not in the park — so no Park in the name.)
At the intersection of Hermann Drive and Caroline you’ll find the office of Doctor Brewton on the northwest corner. We are located on the 8th floor. Across the street on the northeast corner is Park Plaza Hospital, which occupies two full blocks.
Continuing a bit further north on Caroline, you’ll find the entrance to our parking garage on the west side of the street. In the next block of Caroline between Ewing and Binz Streets is another medical professional building. The Bodegas Taco shop is on the ground floor.
Caroline and Binz, and the Museum District Metro Station
The next street, Binz, is a major east west corridor. You can take Binz east toward the 288 South Freeway. Going westward, you’ll find the northbound METRO Red Line street car stop (Museum District Station) at the intersection of San Jacinto. The southbound stop is one block further west at Fannin. One block west at Main Street, Binz changes its name to Bissonnet — one of Houston’s longest streets. (Bissonnet goes west all the way to the Energy Corridor– first crossing the 610 West Loop and then the 59 Southwest Freeway, the West Sam Houston Parkway and finally crossing Highway 6 before terminating.)
Returning to our tour of the Museum District, we continue north on Caroline and cross Calumet. On the west side is the Clayton Library Center, which has a comprehensive genealogy department for researching your family history. On the northeast corner is the Holocaust Museum Houston.
Caroline is a calm boulevard with trees planted in the median along these blocks. Continuing north, we cross Oakdale. The new Asia Society Texas building, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, occupies the entire block on the northeast corner. The Texas Asia Society conducts quite a number of educational events as well as offering Chinese lessons during different times of the year.
Today’s Museum District is the Old Southmore Neighborhood
We now cross Southmore Boulevard. Southmore is the original name for this neighborhood. But the neighborhood was bisected in the 1970’s by the construction of the 288 South Freeway. The portion of the original neighborhood east of the South Freeway is still called Southmore, but here along Caroline Street it’s more common to call it by its newer name, the Museum District.
We now cross Palm, Witchita, Rosedale and Arbor Place. On our right is the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) on the southeast corner of Caroline and Wentworth. This museum has regular exhibitions and cultural events.
Now we cross Blodgett and come to Ruth Street. The Mexican Institute of Greater Houston is on the right, on the east side of Caroline. Further up the block on the west side of the street is the back entrance to the Consulate General of Mexico and the home of the Mexico Tourism Board.
We now cross Rosewood Street and pass under the 59 Southwest Freeway and cross Wheeler Avenue. The 59 will eventually be renamed Interstate 69, marking an important trade route from Mexico to Michigan and then into Canada.
The Southwest Freeway: Border between Midtown and the Museum District
Probably at this point most Houstonians would call the neighborhood north of 59 “Midtown” but there are still a couple more museums north of 59 that are members in the Museum District association. We’ll cross Barbee Street and Eagle Street. The giant Fiesta Mart grocery store is on the west side.
At the next block, Cleburne Street, the median down the middle of Caroline Street that marks it as a regal boulevard comes to an end. It’s just a normal street now.
We’re starting to approach the ever expanding Houston Community College (HCC) Central Campus. But before we do, we cross Truxillo Street and find another museum to discover. It’s the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, celebrating the history of black US army regimens dating back to the mid-nineteenth century until 1951, by which time the Army was desegregated.
The Houston Community College (HCC) Central Campus
Caroline now terminates for a bit at another major Houston east west thoroughfare — Alabama Street. Ahead of us is the HCC Central campus. If you are driving, you can turn left on Alabama and then right on San Jacinto and then right again on Holman to reconnect with Caroline Street again. But caution: if you are driving, you’ll soon discover that Caroline is now one way, going south. (You can use San Jacinto to get into Houston’s downtown.) The far end terminus of Caroline is at Franklin Street in Houston’s eastern downtown, just one block shy of Buffalo Bayou.
This makes a good place to stop for now.
The intersection of Caroline and Holman is a good place to stop and look back at the imposing architecture of the main HCC Central campus building. It’s quite an impressive piece of classic architecture.
And we hope this tour helps you discover a little bit more of what Houston’s Museum District has to offer.