Bellaire was founded in 1908 by William Wright Baldwin, who was the president of the South End Land Company. Baldwin, a native of Iowa, was well known as the vice president of the Burlington Railroad. Bellaire was founded on what was part of William Marsh Rice’s 9,449 acres (38.24 km2) ranch. Baldwin surveyed the eastern 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of the ranch into small truck farms. He named them “Westmoreland Farms”. Baldwin started Bellaire in the middle of “Westmoreland Farms” to serve as a residential neighborhood and an agricultural trading center. South End Land Company advertised to farmers in the Midwestern United States. Baldwin stated that the town was named “Bellaire”, or “Good Air” for its breezes. Bellaire may have been named after Bellaire, Ohio, a town served by one of Baldwin’s rail lines.
Six miles of prairie were a buffer zone between Houston and Bellaire. Originally, the town was bounded by Palmetto, First, Jessamine, and Sixth (now Ferris) Streets. In 1910, Edward Teas, a horticulturist, moved his nursery to Bellaire from Missouri so he could implement Sid Hare’s landscaping plans. Bellaire was incorporated as a city with a general charter in 1918, 10 years after its founding. Bellaire had a population of 200 at the time. Because of the 1918 incorporation, Houston did not incorporate Bellaire’s territory into its city limits, while annexing surrounding areas that were unincorporated.
Bellaire’s population had reached 1,124 in 1940. After 1940, Bellaire had a rapid population explosion in the post-World War II building boom. On December 31, 1948, the city of Houston had annexed the land around the city of Bellaire, stopping the city of Bellaire’s land growth. Bellaire remained independent of Houston, and adopted a home rule charter with a council-manager government in April 1949. By 1950, the city’s residents had numbered 10,173, with 3,186 houses. Each subsequent year for the next two years, though, an additional 600 to 700 new houses were added. Due to the resulting population increase, several schools, including Bellaire High School, Marian High School, and two elementary schools, were established in that period, and Condit Elementary received a new addition. In the 1960s, 250 houses in Bellaire were demolished to make way for the right-of-way of the I-610 Loop, which bisected the city.
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