The Sienna Plantation subdivision is on land that previously operated as a sugar and cotton plantation. Purchased in 1840 by South Carolinaplanter Jonathan D. Waters, the tract included a wharf along the Brazos River. In 1872, Houston businessman Thomas W. House purchased the property, followed by former Houston mayor Thomas H. Scanlan in 1913. Scanlan's heirs' estate entrusted the property to the Scanlan Foundation, which benefited the Catholic diocese of Houston. From the 1950s until 1972, the diocese operated the Cenacle Retreat on the land under the direction of the Cenacle Sisters. They chose the name "Sienna Plantation" in honor of the Siena area of Tuscany in Italy.
In the 1970s developer Larry Johnson founded the Johnson Development Corporation and in 1978 began development of the project. In the mid-1980s the Johnson Corporation began construction of single family homes, roads, and a 10-mile-long (16 km) levee for flood protection. The project stalled during the economic meltdown of the 1980s.
The developer refocused his efforts in 1994. The development of Sienna Plantation was organized by Tan Yu, a billionaire developer from the Philippines, who in 1997 was based in Taiwan. In 2009 5,000 of the 5,200 houses in Sienna Plantation were occupie