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By Laura Landsbaum


Thanks in part to Cynthia Woods Mitchell’s love of the English language and her abiding attention to the smallest details, The Woodlands is the name of the beloved community that is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

“My mother had a nice command of English — and she thought The Woodlands was more specific than just Woodlands,” Scott Mitchell, the oldest of Cynthia Woods Mitchell’s 10 children, says.

Of course, original founder George Mitchell and his wife Cynthia Woods Mitchell were the first couple of The Woodlands. As The Woodlands heads into its 50th anniversary with a yearlong public celebration of the milestone beginning this October and lasting till October 19, 2024, the official 50th anniversary date, the name of the community still carries plenty of significance.

It turns out The Woodlands name goes back a long way with the Mitchells. In fact, The Woodlands served as the original name for a parcel of land that George Mitchell bought for his family, which is off SH 149.

“We had a property between Magnolia and Montgomery that was 3,500 acres that was part of the original purchase of the land from the Grogan-Cochran Lumber company,” Scott Mitchell details, “That became our ranch. We had horse, cattle, axis deer.

“It was a beautiful place in the piney forest.”

Since the original purchase, neighboring properties were added, bringing that land to more than 5,000 contiguous acres.

When it came time to name the town that George Mitchell was developing south of the ranch property, the whole family got involved.

“My mom proposed a family contest,” Scott Mitchell remembers. “And (my sister) Pamela named it The Woodlands. Everyone agreed that that was the best name.”

The problem was that the name was already in use. For the family ranch.

“We renamed our ranch Cook’s Branch,” Scott Mitchell says. “After a stream that flows through the property.”

Cynthia Woods Mitchell makes an appearance in the early days of The Woodlands.

Cynthia Woods Mitchell makes an appearance in the early days of The Woodlands.

Cook’s Branch is now managed as a conservancy under the George and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Foundation. 

Charles Blain, the president of the Urban Reform Institute, tabbed The Woodlands as one of The Next Great American Cities, even though it’s not technically a city and is on the cusp of being 50 years old.

Driving through it today, you can see that original vision still going strong with the trees still a dominant feature, with store, restaurant and business signs restricted from the blaring lighting you’ll find in so many other areas. These days, more than 120,000 people and 2,400 businesses — from Fortune 500 companies to mom-and-pop shops — call The Woodlands home.

This is a one-of-a-kind community. And it just wouldn’t be the same without its distinct name.

Five decades later, The Woodlands still has a special ring to it. With Cynthia Woods insisting on that all-important The.


Many thanks to The Woodlands 50th Anniversary Sponsors:

FOUNDING – Howard Hughes

LEGACY – Woodforest National Bank

HERITAGE – Waste Connections Inc.

GOLD – Entergy Texas, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital

SILVER – SVN/JBeard Real Estate, The John Cooper School

PRODUCER – The Woodlands Township