History of The Woodlands

One Man’s Vision

Learning the history of an area can play an important part in choosing a place to call home. The Woodlands has a history that starts with one man’s vision and ends in an unrivaled success story.

The Woodlands was conceived by George P. Mitchell, a successful oil industry investor and owner of Mitchell Industries. In the early 1960’s, Mitchell attended a symposium on how to develop Title VII HUD-financed communities, like Columbia, Maryland. Mitchell was keen to put his new knowledge to work so in 1964, he purchased a large piece of land from the Grogan-Cochran Lumber Company. Of that, 2800 acres was combined with additional land that he purchased over the next ten years, until eventually Mitchell had assembled the original 17,455 acres that would become The Woodlands.

George Mitchell, known in the oil industry as the “father of fracking”, was a true visionary. He conceived The Woodlands out of his desire to create a miniature city that would enforce strict zoning requirements, in direct contrast to the general lack of zoning found in the surrounding areas of Houston. In 1974, Mitchell’s vision came to fruition and The Woodlands was born.

But Mitchell’s ultimate vision would take many years to fulfill. For only over time could he create a true miniature city nestled in the woods – a place for families to call home, but where they could also work, play, shop, dine and worship. Wanting to stay true to the name, Mitchell put in place strict guidelines to ensure the preservation of the forests and the minimization of hardscape allowed with each parcel of land. He also required that the design committee approve the cutting down of any trees more than six inches in diameter. In 1997, George Mitchell finally let go of the reigns and sold The Woodlands to a joint venture of Morgan Stanley and Crescent Real Estate Equities, later to be passed to other companies and now owned by the Howard Hughes Corporation since 2011.

Today, The Woodlands spans 28,000 acres, beginning just west of I-45 North at the eastern boundary and carrying on to FM 2978, in Magnolia, at the western boundary – the only exception being Harper’s Landing to the east of I-45. The southern portion extends into Harris County and the northern border extends into Conroe. The Woodlands is divided into residential villages, with each village including individual residential enclaves. Within each enclave, specific deed restrictions specify maximum and minimum square footage for the houses, and price ranges vary accordingly. Most of the villages have shopping centers consisting of grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, banks and other retail stores.

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