‘Three Sisters,’ iconic Montrose Oak trees, given historic designation

By Jhair Romero / Staff writer

Attendees gather for a commemoration ceremony to recognize the “Three Sisters” Post Oak trees at Montrose and Dallas on Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Houston. Michael Wyie/Contributor
Attendees of the commemoration ceremony to recognize the “Three Sisters” Post Oak trees at Montrose and Dallas on Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Houston. Michael Wyke/Contributor
The “Three Sisters” Post Oak trees at Magnolia Cemetery on Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Houston. Michael Wyke/Contributor
Michelle Bourchard, left, co-founder of Save Montrose Live Oaks, reads the poem “The Three Sisters of Montrose” by Jonna Hitchcock during a commemoration ceremony to recognize the “Three Sisters” Post Oak trees at Montrose and Dallas on Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Houston. Michael Wyke/Contributor
Attendees form a procession across Montrose Boulevard as they end a commemoration ceremony to recognize the “Three Sisters” Post Oak trees at Montrose and Dallas on Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Houston. Michael Wyke/Contributor
Michelle Bourchard, co-founder of Save Montrose Live Oaks, reads the poem “The Three Sisters of Montrose” by Jonna Hitchcock during a commemoration ceremony to recognize the “Three Sisters” Post Oak trees at Montrose and Dallas on Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Houston. Michael Wyke/Contributor
 
Marion Lineberry, president and chair of the Texas Historic Tree Coalition speaks during a commemoration ceremony to recognize the “Three Sisters” Post Oak trees at Montrose and Dallas on Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Houston. Michael Wyke/Contributor

Three iconic Post Oaks in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood estimated to be 160 years old were honored by the Texas Historic Tree Coalition during a ceremony Sunday afternoon and designated as historic landmarks by the organization.

The trees, referred to by the coalition as the “Three Sisters of Montrose,” line Montrose Boulevard along the entrance to the historic Magnolia Cemetery and are among the oldest in the neighborhood. 

A couple of dozen supporters, including many involved in the resident-led fight to save more than 50 mature Oak trees along Montrose Boulevard from a road project, showed up for the commemoration ceremony Sunday on a corner of West Dallas and Montrose that included a poem reading and a short march to the trees led by a man playing bagpipes.

MORE: What to know about the Montrose Boulevard overhaul that would replace beloved Post Oak trees

Nancy Higgs, the longtime Montrose resident who nominated the Three Sisters for the historic designation, hopes the new status can sway city officials who are set to remove dozens of mature Oaks along Montrose in the first two-block phase of a drainage and street project.

“There is a way to accomplish a wider sidewalk without destroying all the trees,” she said. “So we’re just hoping that Mayor (John) Whitmire is going to urge them to figure out another way.”

A resident-led coalition called Save Montrose Live Oaks has been pushing back against the project since September, asking officials from the Montrose Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone to consider a plan that would implement the proposed sidewalk expansions and drainage improvements while still preserving the Oaks.

Higgs and other residents have taken their campaign to City Council meetings, and a Change.org petition supporting their cause has garnered more than 7,700 signatures.

The first phase of the project would redo Montrose from Buffalo Bayou to West Clay, and the overhaul is planned to continue south to U.S. 59. 

Project planners have contended that the project will improve mobility and safety along the boulevard and have promised that at least twice as many trees will be planted in place of those that are removed.

Montrose resident Michelle Bouchard spoke at the ceremony Sunday and said the Three Sisters’ new historic status made them the first trees with such a designation in Harris County. 

Bouchard has been a key organizer with Save Montrose Live Oaks, spreading the petition, attending Montrose TIRZ meetings and even helping organize a recent “yarn bombing” protest.

“Look, I live here, I walk around here, I ride my bike, too,” she said. “We all want it to be better. We don’t want to stop the project, but we want to make sure that it’s a compromise so that the trees are accommodated.”

The Author: Jhair Romero
Jhair Romero is the Latino communities reporter for the Houston Chronicle’s community/inequity team.

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