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What's With Bissonnet?


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Does anyone know the history of Bissonnet and how it came to be? EVERYTHING else around there pretty much is all N-S, E-W oriented and then BOOM, there's Bissonnet.

I think I remember seeing on on old map that the allignment of Bissonnet from Shepherd to out past the city of Bellaire was the old road to the town of Richmond - i.e. Richmond Road. Before the 20's, there was not much out there and the road probably just took the shortest route between Houston and Richmond.

Continuing into town, Richmond Road turned north at Shepherd's Dam Road (shepherd) and then east at the current Richmond.

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Interesting map, sevfiv - thanks. Notice how the Magnolia Brewery spans Buffalo Bayou? This must have been prepared just before the '35 flood.

A question: why is the area north of Richmond Road marked "Westmoreland"? It's a long way from the subdivision of the same name.

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A question: why is the area north of Richmond Road marked "Westmoreland"? It's a long way from the subdivision of the same name.

that's for Westmoreland Farms

That was the area around the city of Bellaire founded about the same time as the city.

It was developed to be a bunch of small farms.

Edited by gnu
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from the handbook of texas online:

William Wright Baldwin, acting as president of the South End Land Company, founded Bellaire and Westmoreland Farms after purchasing the 9,449-acre Rice Ranch in 1908.
http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online...es/BB/heb5.html

and from the teas nursery site:

Edward "Papa" Teas came to Houston in the early 1900's on a railroad excursion trip and purchased land on the Houston Ship channel where the HLP power plant now stands. He met WW Baldwin the founder of Bellaire who convinced Papa Teas to sell that land and purchase land in Westmoreland Farms which had been a part of the William Marsh Rice ranch.
http://www.teasnursery.com/Press.htm

and from texas freeways:

Westmoreland Farms was a 4000 acre tract of land just southwest to the urbanized area of Houston. In the 1940's, it was purchased by legendary oilman and wildcatter Glenn McCarthy, who was the inspiration for the film Giant (main character played by James Dean.) McCarthy had purchased the land at the urging or the president of Eastern Airlines, and McCarthy intended to promote the land as the site for Houston's new Intercontinental airport.

However, cost overruns at McCarthy's Shamrock Hilton Hotel (demolished in the 1980's) and production problems at his oilfield in Winnie, Texas ( 50 miles east of Houston) forced McCarthy to sell the land. In 1954, Frank Sharp and his partners took ownership of the land. Plans were announced for the huge housing development that would have 15,000 homes. Houston's business elite later purchased land for Houston's new airport 20 miles north of downtown Houston.

http://www.texasfreeway.com/Houston/photos...n_history.shtml

i never knew any of that... :)

Edited by sevfiv
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from the handbook of texas online:

http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online...es/BB/heb5.html

and from the teas nursery site:

http://www.teasnursery.com/Press.htm

and from texas freeways:

http://www.texasfreeway.com/Houston/photos...n_history.shtml

i never knew any of that... :)

Westmoreland Farms was a 4000 acre tract of land just southwest to the urbanized area of Houston. In the 1940's, it was purchased by legendary oilman and wildcatter Glenn McCarthy, who was the inspiration for the film Giant (main character played by James Dean.) McCarthy had purchased the land at the urging or the president of Eastern Airlines, and McCarthy intended to promote the land as the site for Houston's new Intercontinental airport.

However, cost overruns at McCarthy's Shamrock Hilton Hotel (demolished in the 1980's) and production problems at his oilfield in Winnie, Texas ( 50 miles east of Houston) forced McCarthy to sell the land. In 1954, Frank Sharp and his partners took ownership of the land. Plans were announced for the huge housing development that would have 15,000 homes. Houston's business elite later purchased land for Houston's new airport 20 miles north of downtown Houston.

yeah..that would've been interesting to see how things would have developed if IAH was where Sharpstown is today - So close in, relative to the current IAH. it might have changed the whole direction of Houston's development.
Edward "Papa" Teas came to Houston in the early 1900's on a railroad excursion trip and purchased land on the Houston Ship channel where the HLP power plant now stands. He met WW Baldwin the founder of Bellaire who convinced Papa Teas to sell that land and purchase land in Westmoreland Farms which had been a part of the William Marsh Rice ranch.

sounds like a smart move to Bellaire on Mr. Teas part - but front row on the ship channel (i assume they mean the HL&P Deepwater plant) might be a good industrial value but certainly not a good place for a nursery..except to help purify some of the smog. :P

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Notice on the 1935 map there is:

Richmond Road- an extension of Bissonnet

and

Old Richmond Road- south of Rice Institute

Neither of these are the Richmond Avenue we have today.

I have a postcard from 1962 and Bissonnet was still called Richmond Road sw of Bellaire.

In the 1969 Cole's Directory, the Houston section of Bissonnet, including sw of Bellaire, is all called Bissonnet but the part that runs through The City of Bellaire is still listed as "SEE RICHMOND" . Possibly this was about the time of the name change and The City of Bellaire had not adopted the new name yet.

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Great map. The Old Richmond Rd south of Holcombe is on other old maps as Old Main Street Loop Rd. It started at Holcombe and Fannin and dead-ended on South Main. The road is gone now except for a section that was incorporated into Fannin near the Astrodome. The Old Main Street Road on this map later became Knight.

It also shows South Main as OST, and today's OST is listed as being under construction.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 5 weeks later...

I distinctly remember years ago that there was a major announcement having to do with the Bissonnet and Bellaire intersection, something having to do with renaming or adjusting the traffic flow in the area.

I was rather young at the time (11?) and I don't recall what the big deal was and didn't have the interest to retain the information. This was in the early 80's or late 70's.

Does anyone remember this?

Rick

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  • 9 months later...
I distinctly remember years ago that there was a major announcement having to do with the Bissonnet and Bellaire intersection, something having to do with renaming or adjusting the traffic flow in the area.

I was rather young at the time (11?) and I don't recall what the big deal was and didn't have the interest to retain the information. This was in the early 80's or late 70's.

Does anyone remember this?

Rick

I remember that proposal too. It was going to be a big effort that would have straightend out Bissonett to cross Bellaire at right angles. Cedar St. and Ferris St. would have been reconfiqured also. Too many businesses objected to it. Just as well, I like it the way it is.

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I distinctly remember years ago that there was a major announcement having to do with the Bissonnet and Bellaire intersection, something having to do with renaming or adjusting the traffic flow in the area.

I was rather young at the time (11?) and I don't recall what the big deal was and didn't have the interest to retain the information. This was in the early 80's or late 70's.

Does anyone remember this?

Rick

Funny you bring that up. The proposal is not dead and is in fact being actively studied. Cannot say by whom. :ph34r:

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  • 1 month later...

[The original name of Bissonnet Street (at least the oldest section near Main) was County Poor Farm Road. It was named that because it led to the County Poor Farm The name was changed in 1919 to memorilize a dead World War I soldier from Houston. Dunlavy Street was also named for a fallen WWI soldier.

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  • 7 months later...

Does anyone know when the road through southwest Houston known today as Bissonnet was first built? Draw a line from Richmond to downtown Houston and it lines up almost exactly with the diagonal portion of Bissonnet.

It's easy to imagine a wagon path or horse trail being cut through the flat, treeless praire of Harris County in the most direct path possible in order to connect Richmond and Houston. Is it possible this road may have been the main route to Richmond back in the 1800's?

I know it was called Old Richmond Road up until the late 1950's or early 1960's. Just how old is it?

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The attached file shows a portion of the 1915 USGS survey map that details how today's Richmond Ave connected to today's Bissonnet. Using modern street names it looks like one went west to Greenbriar, south on Greenbriar to what has been subsumed by the SW Freeway, then west to about Wakeforest, south to Westpark, west to Edloe, then south to Bissonnet.

Notice what looks like an oval racetrack just south of W. Alabama between Edloe and Buffalo Speedway. Could this be "Buffalo Speedway"?

post-530-1195007702.jpg

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  • 4 years later...

Thanks for the link and the map, sevfiv. My family owned the Westmoreland Dairy way back when. I wasn't aware of the history. Thanks!

4thGenHoustonian, I noticed that you posted that your family owned the Westmoreland Dairy years ago. Today I bought an old milk bottle crate at an antique store in Liberty, TX where my husband and I were visiting family. "Westmoreland F-D" was marked on both sides of the crate. I came across your post while trying to learn more about what dairy this crate was originally from.With the close proximity of Liberty and Houston, my guess is that it most likely came from the Westmoreland Farms Dairy. Do you have any history about the dairy (dates in business, photos, location, etc.)? Feel free to e-mail me directly at tbruno80@yahoo.com. If anyone else knows about the Westmoreland Farms Dairy please e-mail me also.

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