Project Row Houses is a successful public art program founded by local artists in inner-city Houston. Starting by boarding up abandoned houses and creating a “drive-by” exhibit, to providing free, refurbished, houses for single mothers in college, and making space for arts and artists, they helped revive their historically African-American neighborhood in Third Ward. But one of the thorniest issues was how their own success opened doors to outside development that might drive out local residents. Their response was startling.
THIRD WARD TX is the story of how Project Row Houses used the tools of design, art and architecture to transform two blocks of “shotgun” houses reminiscent of New Orleans and other Black communities across the South into exhibition space, classrooms, gardens, and residential space. But their success in reducing crime, and making their “campus” a magnet for art enthusiasts, families, and local residents, also attracts deep-pocket real estate developers.
Their bold response is to include community planning and new housing as a part of their art practice. If they can shape an area in Third Ward for the residents, there’s a chance they can keep the neighborhood intact.