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Brunsville - Old Subdivision Near The Ship Channel


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I have a call into HISD to find out some of the details and history of Fidelity Elementary. I will post when the person calls me back.

My information says Fidelity was in Galena Park ISD - another reason that it couldnt be in Brunsville (see post 63)

i really think you are going the wrong direction with this. i believe that school was placed incorrectly on your 1950 map.

i have found two maps so far that show the school on Fidelity st. - to the east of brunsville and clinton park and in gpisd

Edited by gnu
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My information says Fidelity was in Galena Park ISD - another reason that it couldnt be in Brunsville (see post 63)

yup...according to this, too:

"WHEREAS, This esteemed coach, teacher, and administrator

joined the Galena Park Independent School District as a teacher at

Fidelity Elementary School in 1947"

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hopefully ending the fidelity school possibility...

found an old street index that lists the address of the school as 415 bolden

this puts it in a block bordering fidelity st and between bolden and de haven.

in the fidelity addition to the east and not in brunsville.

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The 1955 directory lists "Fidelity Junior High" at 401 Bolden. Borden is on the (present-day) west side of 610, while Bolden is on the east, just south of Clinton Park.

Also - listed at 9525 Clinton Dr. is the Clinton Park recreation center. Today, 9525 is east of 610 but in 1955, the intersection of McCarty and Clinton was at about 9138 (present-day 610). Soooo the park actually would be near the ovals at that address today...

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I don't know if this was brought up earlier but farther west on Clinton, there is this little neighborhood:

1z3s107.jpgbrunsville_1926.jpg

Now, Garfield and Buchanan streets seem to align with the older map near present-day McCarty but Borden St. aligns near present-day Maxine St.

If Buchanan and Garfield continued east, they would have been WAY farther north...:unsure:

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The 1955 directory lists "Fidelity Junior High" at 401 Bolden. Borden is on the (present-day) west side of 610, while Bolden is on the east, just south of Clinton Park.

Also - listed at 9525 Clinton Dr. is the Clinton Park recreation center. Today, 9525 is east of 610 but in 1955, the intersection of McCarty and Clinton was at about 9138 (present-day 610). Soooo the park actually would be near the ovals at that address today...

not sure what you are trying to say. that the numbers might be off?

i looked up the current address of the clinton park recreation center and its at 200 missisippi at clinton park.

http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/ClintonBox.htm

Clinton Park is always shown as a separate entity in all the maps i have seen and looks to have always been just north of missisippi st in the clinton park subdiv.

here is the map from post 14 showing the park clearly labeled on the right

brunville_46.jpg

weird that the cprc would have a clinton drive address in 1955. i dunno what to make of that.

about fidelity, i checked sanborn and it also shows the fidelity (colored) school taking up the entire block 21 of the fidelity subdivision and lists it at 415 (and at a few other numbers for other buildings). block 21 corresponds to the block surrounded by fidelity,bolden (formerly maryland*), dehaven (formerly virginia*).

*pre-coh annexation

I don't know if this was brought up earlier but farther west on Clinton, there is this little neighborhood:

Now, Garfield and Buchanan streets seem to align with the older map near present-day McCarty but Borden St. aligns near present-day Maxine St.

If Buchanan and Garfield continued east, they would have been WAY farther north...:unsure:

i dont think the street alignment deal is any issue with this. i just think the city planners sometimes didnt spend a lot of time on exact name consolidation and alignment when a new area was annexed.

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another thing:

1z48t8x.jpg

is this the same oval, or was it thought to be where the streets now are?

ack

and your oval ovallay :P is off. it should be a block north. you can see the se "corner" of the oval at the corner of borden and teal and the sw at borden and sol.

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Sev, I guess I wasn't the only one to open up Google Maps and try to find an oval? :)

Indeed - and I have searched through my city directory, maps, and online resources, too....bleh!

I think it's about time to pay another visit - now that I am crazy, maybe I'll see something :)

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Hi Folks!

This topic has really fascinated me, let me explain.

I am part of a running and biking group that does runs and rides all throughout Houston, and usually the trail runs throught the underbelly of Houston, almost always similar to this area that you have been discussing.

So a few months back we had a bike ride that came right through this area. It actually came from the north, through the small subdivision called 'Pleasantville' and then down across the large industrial area's big drainage ditches/ponds, and right into the area you have on your map, and then out on Clinton and back to town.

I love a good mystery.

So I was thinking that you might be able to see something up in the area that extends into the industrial/drainage ditch area. I know that you can just go right in there and no one bothers you. Mabye some remnant of the features remains in that area?

Anyway, I'm curious to see what you finally discover. If I come across any good maps, I'll post them...

Cheers,

Neal

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Hi Folks!

This topic has really fascinated me, let me explain.

I am part of a running and biking group that does runs and rides all throughout Houston, and usually the trail runs throught the underbelly of Houston, almost always similar to this area that you have been discussing.

So a few months back we had a bike ride that came right through this area. It actually came from the north, through the small subdivision called 'Pleasantville' and then down across the large industrial area's big drainage ditches/ponds, and right into the area you have on your map, and then out on Clinton and back to town.

I love a good mystery.

So I was thinking that you might be able to see something up in the area that extends into the industrial/drainage ditch area. I know that you can just go right in there and no one bothers you. Mabye some remnant of the features remains in that area?

Anyway, I'm curious to see what you finally discover. If I come across any good maps, I'll post them...

Cheers,

Neal

thanks for your interest. your group sounds pretty cool. i like the word underbelly :D

i visited the area a couple of years back - when i first ran across the ovals on maps. The only evidence i ever found was the curves in the road around where the outside oval would have been. I even went up on the big levee north of the rr tracks/west of maxine and its just a big marsh for as far as the eye can see. I also drove slowly through what would have been the interior of the oval and I saw no evidence of anything unusual. I guess if i get desperate enough, i could go look for little old ladies in the neighborhood to interview or Maybe i need to pick up an archeologist's toothbrush! ^_^

this was all probably just an elaborate cartographer's prank! :lol:

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OK people...time to get serious.

I decided to stop guessing and do some real research. Don't bother going out there, you won't find your answers.

It was a park, specifically "Mississippi Park". Officially per Harris County Appraisal District plat maps Brunsville (or portions of it) still exist. I had to call HCAD to confirm the parks name.

Your circles on the photos are way off.

Here are two of HCAD facet maps. In them you can see the remains of the old street layout. What hasn't been replatted. The street names are no longer on the plat maps, but all the lots and everthing is still on the maps.

5657c.gif

5656a.gif

I have taken the actual PDFs of the maps and combined them. Here are several links.

WARNING: LARGE FILE SIZES!

http://www.texasfreeway.com/stock/Brunsville2006.jpg (6.8MB)

http://www.texasfreeway.com/stock/Brunsville2006.pdf (24MB)

If anyone has trouble viewing the images go to HCAD.org to see the originals.

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Thanks for the research and maps. The northern part is shown as "Mississippi Park" and the southern part as "Best Way Park". I'm still wondering about the interior ovals however. Is the Texas Room at the downtown library still open? Maybe they can help.

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It was a park, specifically "Mississippi Park". Officially per Harris County Appraisal District plat maps Brunsville (or portions of it) still exist. I had to call HCAD to confirm the parks name.

Hah! Too funny. HCAD had it on their maps online all along. And to think...everybody was dredging up ancient maps and scanning them in trying to figure out what it was.

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Thanks for the research and maps. The northern part is shown as "Mississippi Park" and the southern part as "Best Way Park". I'm still wondering about the interior ovals however. Is the Texas Room at the downtown library still open? Maybe they can help.

I asked the person at HCAD about that. Take a look at the blue lines. "Best Way Park" is part of the replat, "Mississippi Park" is the Brunsville park name.

Edited by TexasFreeway.com
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i have looked at this map a gazillion times and i have always discounted those labels. are you certain that those labels represented the interior of the ovals. they are on the east side of teal and the oval was to the west (between teal and sol). also the word "park" might have just been used in the name of the subdivision to the east - not necessarily that it was park. it might even be a more recent business "park".

EDIT: best way park is named for the Houston Best Way Transit Company (1981) - an industrial park -the one sevfiv circled in post 75. it is NOT within the oval. the missisippi park park replat is dated to 1976 and looks to be a similar industrial park across missisippi st from bestway. also NOT within the oval

are you certain that the INTERIOR of the oval was ever missisippi park and/or best way park?

i have seen the brunsville plat from the twenties and the current clintonview plat from the 40's that actually depicted the interior oval section. the missisippi and best way plats do not encompass any land west of teal st.

Edited by gnu
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i have looked at this map a gazillion times and i always discounted those labels. are you certain that those labels represented the interior of the ovals. they are on the east side of teal and the oval was to the west (between teal and sol). also the word "park" might have just been used in the name of the subdivision to the east - not necessarily that it was park. it might even be a more recent business "park".

EDIT: best way park is named for the Houston Best Way Transit Company (1981) - an industrial park -the one sevfiv circled in post 75. it is NOT within the oval. the missisippi park park replat is dated to 1976 and looks to be a similar industrial park across missisippi st from bestway. also NOT within the oval

are you certain that the INTERIOR of the oval was ever missisippi park and/or best way park?

i have seen the brunsville plat from the twenties and the current clintonview plat from the 40's that actually depicted the interior oval section. the missisippi and best way plats do not encompass any land west of teal st.

I think we have beat this topic to death. They certainly are not "crop circles" and there is enough evidence to determine that it was some type of recreational park structure. I think that just about covers this topic about as much as can be talked about.

How about them Astros?

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I think we have beat this topic to death. They certainly are not "crop circles" and there is enough evidence to determine that it was some type of recreational park structure. I think that just about covers this topic about as much as can be talked about.

How about them Astros?

but how can we stop when there hasn't been a resolution?

do you know for certain that they were not crop circles? Do you have an alien contact? :D

can channel 11 fly their helicopter over the site and see if they can find anything? :P

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Here are two of HCAD facet maps. In them you can see the remains of the old street layout. What hasn't been replatted. The street names are no longer on the plat maps, but all the lots and everthing is still on the maps.

I suppose the next steps would be to go find the original source of the lines on the HCAD maps....

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I suppose the next steps would be to go find the original source of the lines on the HCAD maps....

Post 17?

i was thinking my next step would be to search through newspapers of the time of Brunsville's platting and look for an article.

or actually maybe searching through newpapers from 1954ish (when Brunsville was replatted as Clintonview). An article on Clintonview might discuss what was there before the new subdivision.

Edited by gnu
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Just so everyone has all the info I have accumulated.

Here are Brunsville blocks 138 and 139 from the original HCAD block book pages.

The notations for other volumes refer to the 1952 clintonview replat and the 1964 turning basin ind. dist. replat.

These two replats and the land taken for the railroad and electricity easements give the area its current configuration.

None of the notations refer to what the ovals are/were.

(click on thumbnail to enlarge)

brun138.jpg.xs.jpgbrun139.jpg.xs.jpg

and then here are the block book sketches from the 1954 Clintonview replat.

Notice in the heading that it says that it was carved out parts of brunsville blocks 138 & 139.

The 1964 Turning basin industrial dist. replat block book sketch is similar and does not shed any more light on the subject.

(click on thumbnail to enlarge)

cv1.jpg.xs.jpgcv2.jpg.xs.jpg

Edited by gnu
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I have to admit I'm getting a little obsessed over this...it's probably not healthy. ^_^

Gnu, where did you get those HCAD pages? The odd thing is that the inner structures are connected in the diagram, not three separate pieces as in all the maps. If they were not roads, why would they be on an appraisal district map? Do those maps normally show buildings or other structures? Whatever they were, they were huge.

I was thinking of going by the Texas room to get their help.

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Yesterday I went to the Texas Room at the library to try to get some more information. First of all, I found a map from 1910 on which the large oval area is labeled as "Park". The central oval and circles are not labeled on any map I could find, but going by the time period and the design, I think it is safe to say that it was meant to be a "City Beautiful"-style oval formal park like South Park in San Francisco. I would still guess that the central oval and circles were meant to be parterres (defined areas for formal gardens or landscaping).

I thought the best way to get a handle on the inner oval and circles was by photograph, since they are never labeled on maps. The Bob Bailey aerial photographs weren't clear enough for the area. However, at the Texas Room they have the photographs from the 1935 Houston aerial survey. Here is the part of the survey photo that covers the Brunsville area:

BrunsvilleAerial.jpg

Sorry for the poor quality. It is a scan of a xerox of a laminated old B&W photo. Anyway, the Brunsville area is the dark region at the top of the photo, slightly right from center. The white line running through the area is a railroad track that would have approximately bisected the oval park. There appear to be some light lines that may be paths or dirt roads, but apart from that, note that there are no ovals. There are no streets. There is no Brunsville.

I also spot-checked some of the Brunsville streets in the city directories from the mid-1920s to the mid 1950s. The streets I checked were listed in the directories through the late 1930s, but in no case were there any structures listed on those streets. The first residences start showing up in the 1940s. In the early 1950s, at the time the neighborhood was replatted, a survey field map shows perhaps a dozen structures. After that it fills up with both residences and some businesses.

What this all seems to indicate is that although they showed up on maps for years, the ovals were never built because Brunsville was never built, at least according to the original plan. The streets legally "existed", just like sections of Old Main Street, but they were never paved or developed until the 1950s. The maps were never properly updated to reflect the fact that Brunsville appears to have been a failed development.

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Well..first of all...Subdude deserves a BIG thank you for going to Texas Room and putting forth the effort.

On your teaser from last night, I went out there again today looking for something...anything. Of course, i found nothing...again.

what map did you see the park notation ?

So this new aerial seems (as you said its not clear) to validate to the second aerial photo in post 22 (see below) which shows what looks like an uncleared wooded area.

e_bb_0034_pub.jpg

I was sure was hoping it had been constructed though. Your scenario has always seemed the most plausible.

You might think that since today's developers always build an elaborate entrance (with fountain, etc) to their new subdivision that, back then, they might have built this park area first, in order to attact customers.

Out of curiosity, I think i want to see if i can find some newspaper ads from the time period promoting Brunsville to see how the park was described. or see if i can come up with some background on its failure.

Thanks again!

Edited by gnu
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Out of curiosity, I think i want to see if i can find some newspaper ads from the time period promoting Brunsville to see how the park was described. or see if i can come up with some background on its failure.

Thanks again!

If I had to guess, I'd speculate that developers tried positioning Brunsville as an upscale community in the wrong place. Very far outside of town. Very little infrastructure. No place to shop, probably even for convenience goods, and too small to support even a convenience store. Next to an active RR track. Wrong side of the Channel from the white collar jobs.

Probably didn't sell well to begin with and went belly-up in the Depression.

Edited by TheNiche
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what map did you see the park notation ?

I'm sorry, I didn't write down info on the 1910 map or copy it, but it was in the 1910-1920 drawer of the map collection. I'll try to stop by again and copy it.

It could have failed for any number of reasons. In the 1910s it probably wasn't unreasonable to build a new development on the east side. At that point the Ship Channel hadn't been completed so it wasn't as heavily industrialized. The Houston Country Club and Magnolia Park opened on the east end, so perhaps that is the direction people assumed the city was growing. The failure might have been due to lack of streetcar access to downtown, or maybe the developer just went bankrupt. If you look at the plans, the oval park would have been really huge relative to the size of the development, so maybe the land costs were high relative to proceeds from property sales.

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I'm sorry, I didn't write down info on the 1910 map or copy it, but it was in the 1910-1920 drawer of the map collection. I'll try to stop by again and copy it.

It could have failed for any number of reasons. In the 1910s it probably wasn't unreasonable to build a new development on the east side. At that point the Ship Channel hadn't been completed so it wasn't as heavily industrialized. The Houston Country Club and Magnolia Park opened on the east end, so perhaps that is the direction people assumed the city was growing. The failure might have been due to lack of streetcar access to downtown, or maybe the developer just went bankrupt. If you look at the plans, the oval park would have been really huge relative to the size of the development, so maybe the land costs were high relative to proceeds from property sales.

Yeah, that all makes sense to me.

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If you look at the plans, the oval park would have been really huge relative to the size of the development

yeah. its much MUCH larger than south park in sf. the land must have been purchased for a song if they could plan on a park that large and still anticipate a profit.

I find it interesting that these developments way out Clinton Road (Port Houston, Brunsville, Fidelity, etc), seem to be planned on long (North to South) narrow (East to West) strips of land. I am sure it has to do with economics probably since it minimized the frontage near the only road out there (Clinton) - but a curiosity none-the-less.

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It might also have been that the land had already been divided into "vertical" tracts of land and were just sold like that. Good point though that it seems to be a prevalent layout. The Heights was much the same way.

If you are trying to find out more about Brunsville, it might help to find out who "Brun" was. There is a Brun Street near Shepherd in the Montrose. There also was a town named "Brunner" around Shepherd and Washington that was started by a real estate developer named Anton Brunner who was around in the early 20th century. I don't know if there's any connection though.

Btw the Texas Room did not have a subdivision file on Brunsville.

Edited by Subdude
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Looks to be a subdivision which was platted, but never built. The ovals could have been land set aside for a park.

So let's speculate on the intended purpose of the interior oval: bicycle or horse racing? Both?

There were probably relatively few good roads in the Houston area to enjoy bicycling during those days.

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So let's speculate on the intended purpose of the interior oval: bicycle or horse racing? Both?

There were probably relatively few good roads in the Houston area to enjoy bicycling during those days.

There were NO roads to enjoy cycling. Recreational cycling for adults is a fairly recent development in Houston, and anyone who tries to use a bike to get around town can tell you there are still no bicycle-friendly roads in Houston.

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So let's speculate on the intended purpose of the interior oval: bicycle or horse racing? Both?

There were probably relatively few good roads in the Houston area to enjoy bicycling during those days.

Now I think you've gone off the deep end. It is pointless to GUESS what MIGHT have been intended.

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Now I think you've gone off the deep end. It is pointless to GUESS what MIGHT have been intended.

That's OK. I"m comfortable in the deep end.

It seems unlikely that Brunville was utterly unique. Surely there were similar City Beautiful projects realized elsewhere, and promotional literature may have mentioned the intended use of something that looks suspiciously like a racetrack.

Take a gander, if you will, at Portland's Peninsula Park. Might something like this be what the developers had in mind (he speculated, pointlessly)?

Edited by dbigtex56
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The interior oval might have been a promenade. During that time period I think it was common for parks to have promenades for people to stroll or and ride their carriages on while checking out their neighbors. It makes sense given that the oval was several blocks long. Perhaps that could also explain why it was included on maps like a street. Here's an example in Chicago from roughly the same time period.

Jackson Park promenade

Another example that sounds very close in design.

Designed by landscape architects Daniel W. Langton and Charles N. Lowrie, Lincoln Park was begun in 1907.....The architects Langton and Lowrie were active in the "City Beautiful" movement of architecture in the United States.

...

Beyond the entrance and Lincoln Memorial are two gazebos that flank a promenade that leads to a fountain.

Lincoln Park
There were NO roads to enjoy cycling. Recreational cycling for adults is a fairly recent development in Houston, and anyone who tries to use a bike to get around town can tell you there are still no bicycle-friendly roads in Houston.

Sir, I beg to differ. Cycling was very popular a hundred years ago, and Houston had cycling clubs early on. The Houston Business Journals "Heritage" column was about that not long ago.

Edited by Subdude
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  • 1 month later...

If what would have been Brunsville is in Houston ISD, Clinton Park no longer serves it...

That school closed in spring 2005 - See http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/kho...y.3f4d8ba4.html

What would have been Brunsville is served by:

* Pleasantville Elementary School - http://es.houstonisd.org/pleasantvillees/

* Holland Middle School - http://ms.houstonisd.org/hollandms/

* Furr High School - http://hs.houstonisd.org/furrhs/

Profiles:

*http://dept.houstonisd.org/profiles/Pleasantville_ES.pdf

*http://dept.houstonisd.org/profiles/Holland_MS.pdf

*http://dept.houstonisd.org/profiles/Furr_HS.pdf

Edited by VicMan
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There were NO roads to enjoy cycling. Recreational cycling for adults is a fairly recent development in Houston, and anyone who tries to use a bike to get around town can tell you there are still no bicycle-friendly roads in Houston.

I have no problem riding my bike in Houston. i live on the east side and can ride to downtown/midtown/heights/etc and have not had a problem finding bicycle friendly areas.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Here is a plat map of Brunsville from 1893, the year the neighborhood was created. It shows those circles and ovals were always there. Must have been a park area.

any clues within all the text written on the plat?

Edited by gnu
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brunsville6.jpg

It's pretty odd that even if it was a park area, it wasn't named and wasn't on the drawing. That still leaves it pretty open to what it actually was.

It almost appears stadium-like for some sort of sport. On private land, it could have been landscaping designs. It's just amazing that this can continue to be a mystery when I'm sure it has a logical explanation.

Circles could have been obsolete fountains, park benches around trees, decorative areas,.........so many possibilities.

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Maybe I missed it, but I guess the only way to find out would be to head out there, knock on doors, and hope some longtime resident there remembers what used to be there. When did it disappear from the maps? In the '60s right? I'm sure there's some old-timer who knows.

Edited by gonzo1976
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This may sound like a very basic question, but do we know if the subdivision was ever developed?

It may be on street and HCAD maps. We have seen original plat maps (nice work!). But were any streets laid down? Where any houses built?

The circles and ovals were probably a concept for a park that was never realized.

Let's look at what we do know. The subdivision was laid out and filed. It was added to street and HCAD maps. Some time not to long after a rail line was laid through the subdivision effectively cutting it in half. Now, how many times have you seen a rail line cut through a neighborhood was has already been developed? I have seen plenty which have grown around rail lines, but not cut afterwards without an existing right-of-way.

The northern half of the property was purchased and never developed, but still has its platting in HCAD. The southern half was purchased and replatted and developed. The "new" subdivision exhibits the same curves as the southern portion of the "park" because perhaps an "entrance" to the subdivision was built to entice buyers. Building a "grand entrance" before a subdivision is developed is a very common practice.

Guessing if the circles were fountains, walking paths, or otherwise is futile effort if you don't even know if the area was developed. If you feel you can't go through life unless you have answers, try to track down a descendant of one of the people listed on the documents. Heck, some of the people may still be alive.

Please pardon any spelling mistakes. I have been working 12 hour days, non-stop for the past four weeks in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. I am @#$% exhausted, but get to come home on Saturday.

Edited by TexasFreeway.com
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