Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I found a rare, obscure 1940s amusement park! I've never seen it discussed on the internet or in the library archives before! 

I was searching around Twitter for Playland Park.  A Twitter account that documents Houston history posted some Playland Park memories and (wrongfully) included a Speer Park flyer in the post body.  At first thought I thought Speer Park was just a rebranding of Playland Park, but it appears it's a whole different amusement park! 

Anyone know about this park? I wonder why it's never spoken about? Maybe Playland Park overshadowed the smaller park? I just don't know why this park didn't have any daily/weekly newspaper articles and advertisements. No press whatsoever! 

The park was located in the opposite direction of Sivils' Drive-In Restaurant At 8001 South Main St. and Prince's Hamburgers Drive-In Restaurant At 8101 South Main St.

The developer, owner, and manager was Sim L. Speer. 

"Houston's Permanent Family Playgound - Cool Speer Park"


In the April 10, 1943 edition of Billboard Magazine, there was a listing of all the Texas amusement parks:

Galveston- Beach Amusement Park
Sam Serio, Manager.
Has eight rides, six concession games.

Houston- Playland Amusement Park
John E. Williams - Secy.
On South Main St.

Houston- Speer Park
Sim L. Speer - Owner.
Has 10 rides, 20 concession games.

Houston- Sylvan Beach Park
E.L. Crain, Owner / H.W. Dahse, Manager.
Has five rides, four concession games.



Another Billboard Magazine article from the early 1940s:

Houston, April 11 - Speer Park, under management of Sim L. Speer, opened its season yesterday, with all special low prices for kids under 12 to be in effect thruout season, Fridays thru Sundays.  Park has 10 rides and 20 concession games.



Billboard article about a day in Houston visiting Playland Park and Speer Park:


1940s ground water report specifying the location of Speer Park that was 5-3/4 miles southwest of the Houston courthouse.


Here's a 1955 aerial image of the South Main/Old Spanish Trail "Y" Split.  The two drive-in restaurants are located in the center, off of South Main.  I'm not sure which side Speer Park was on.  The amusement park might have been dismantled and demolished by the time of the photograph?   I'll have to look at Google Earth Desktop a bit later to see the 1944 images.  Maybe you can see the park with Google Earth. 

Can anyone spot the park?


  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

The only "kiddie" style park located anywhere near the Prince's and Sivil's (later Stuart's) drive-in restaurants was Kiddie Wonderland. I can't see any other park on the aerials besides Playland Park. I get the impression that Playland catered more to the teen and young adult crowd.

I'm wondering if this smaller park (Speer Park) became Kiddie Wonderland. Notice the emphasis on 'family" style entertainment in this park ad. Sears Roebuck is mentioned, and they catered to young families. Also, the Speer Park's sketch shows a carousel close to the road. The aerial map (1953) of Kiddie Wonderland (around 7830 S.Main) also shows a carousel by the road.

As mentioned above, Sivil's was at 8001 S.Main. So, the drive-ins were close by... opposite side of the road. 

BTW - the 1944 GE aerial in this location may be in error. The date may be older. The kiddie park does not show up in the maps until 1953.

The date on the water table reference lists a 1941 park date. Is this when the Speer park was established?

Edited by NenaE
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kiddie Wonderland was opened in the mid-1930s and was never owned by anyone named Speer. It was owned by the Dranes for years until they sold it in the late 1960s. It was several blocks north of Prince's and Sivil's, definitely not opposite. It probably wasn't shown in a listing of parks because it was just a little ramshackle collection of rides on a few acres.

Playland Park was over a mile south of Prince's and was enormous compared to Kiddie Wonderland.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is the Speer Drive that I found in a 1950 Sanborn map. I can only assume the road was named after Sim L. Speer.

Does this mean that Speer Park was on the same block of Speer Drive? I thought the park was located across the street. 


Closer in:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the Kiddie Wonderland info. I knew it was old, but had no idea it dated back to the 1930's. I like to see owner names. 

There is a Highrise Tower post from Feb 3 about a miniature golf links on OST (source-1950's sanborn map). The side road associated with it was called Speer rd. (as hinted at in above posts). So, the Speer park was probably in that area. It's close to the restaurants. 


Edited by NenaE
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I found Speer Park, I believe.  I was able to copy the above Sanborn 1950 map and recreate the image on Google Earth.  I traced all the other buildings in the area and everything seems to ad up.

You can see a small, white cluster of mass midway down Speer Drive.  I am assuming Speer Park was located on Speer Drive. @Dave Wmight be right. Seems to be on small collection of rides on a few acres.

On both the 1950 Sanborn map and on Google Earth, you can see on the top left what was Kiddie Wonderland.  I don't think these two parks were the same.



Miniature Golf on the corner of OST.  Speer Drive is half paved and shows up as white and the other half looks like a dirt road.  You can see a bunch of black holes on the underside of Speer Drive. The formation below Speer Drive is Lake Island located at 8301-1/2 South Main Street.




  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...