When the first set of homes in the Norchester community were built more than 30 years ago, the surrounding area was not much more than farmland with a few lone businesses scattered in between. Throughout the decades, residents of Norchester witnessed firsthand the growth northwest Harris County experienced, from the expansion of Hwy. 249 and FM 1960 to the rise of Compaq Computer Corporation's headquarters across Cypress Creek.
The Westchester Corporation began developing the community near Grant and Jones roads in 1970. About 10 different builders constructed the homes inside Norchester, almost all of which are two stories, and there are several different styles, ranging from patio homes to colonials to New Orleans-style homes.
All of the streets in the neighborhood are in alphabetical order from Archmont to Normont. The first phase of the neighborhood extended from Archmont Drive to Elmdale Drive, and resident Glenn Land was one of the first to move into the second phase of development, which began on Elmdale Drive. He has lived in the community since 1971, when the neighborhood was full of many residents who worked for Shell Oil.
"We were out in the country," Land said, recalling that there were still rice fields along FM 1960 and how Hempstead Highway ran in place of Hwy. 290, which had not yet been constructed.
Until the late 1970s when Randall's opened at the corner of Jones and Grant roads, residents of Norchester had to travel about 10 miles to get to the closest grocery store, either in Spring Branch or to the Ponderosa subdivision near I-45.
"We were a long time going a long way to get to the grocery store," Land said.
Along Jones Road at one of the main entrances to Norchester stands a white brick clock tower, which has been a fixture in the community since the 1970s.
In 1976, before the nation's bicentennial celebration, residents came together and decided to build a neighborhood clock tower to be unveiled July 4, 1976. Bill Nicks, an architect living in Norchester at the time, designed the fixture for the community.
"It's been a landmark ever since," Land said.
In the early 1980s, Compaq Computer Corporation began construction across Cypress Creek on the company's global headquarters, near Louetta Road and FM 149—now known as Hwy. 249. Compaq was one of the large drivers in the development of Hwy. 249 and smaller roads along the border of Norchester and Lakewood Forest, a bordering neighborhood. When the computer company began building, the developer of Lakewood Forest gave land up to extend Jones Road past Cypresswood Drive.
"It used to be that the main entrance [to Norchester] was by coming in on Jones, and the other was on Balcrest," Land said. "There was no way across the creek until Compaq came in."
Today, there are about 700 homes in the community that has amenities such as a swimming pool, activity center, tennis courts and organizations including a garden club, tennis league and annual parties and parades.