Thursday, December 4, 2014

Saga of church's dumpster shows the difference between institutionalized religion and doing unto others as Jesus taught

Nine years. Nine long years.

That's the number of years since I first sat down at the dais for my inaugural Garland Plan Commission meeting as a city-appointed representative from District 2. At that time, my colleague and friend, Stan Luckie, the at-large representative on the Plan Commission, leaned over to me and asked softly, "When are you and your neighbors going to do something about that illegal dumpster in the MAC parking lot at First Baptist Church?"

"You mean that dumpster really IS illegal?" I replied. I had been studying that dumpster for several years and wondering—

* why is it situated so close to our neighborhood;
* why does it look so ugly and smell so bad;
* who allowed it to be placed in that location in the first place;
* why wasn't it placed in the proper enclosure the city requires of all dumpsters situated near residential neighborhoods; and
* why did city garbage trucks that emptied it always arrive so early in the mornings six days a week and make so much noise, especially on Saturday mornings, when we and our neighbors were trying to sleep?

Thus began an odyssey that is almost too unbelievable (and embarrassing) to write about, except that it is true. Such a simple thing as getting that church dumpster properly housed in a legal, gated and locked enclosure (the same requirement as made of other commercial entities in Garland) should never have taken nine long years. But it did. And along the way I learned more about the politics of a neighboring church and our city—and their strange dance together—than I ever cared to learn.

Thinking it would be a simple matter to get the dumpster either removed or placed in a legal structure, shortly after Stan made his comment I conferred with my City Councilwoman at that time, Laura Perkins Cox, of District 2. Perky, as we all called her, dutifully raced over to our neighborhood, took pictures of the dumpster, and made a few notes about it. Of course the unprotected dumpster was illegal and violated city code, she said. She promised to get the matter taken care of promptly.

A few weeks later after nothing had happened, Perky rather quietly told me the matter was taking longer than she had expected and that she was running into more opposition than she had anticipated.

I firmly believe the whole matter boiled down to two basic issues:

1. City personnel were scared to confront this particular church about a wrongdoing.
2. The church didn't want to listen to anyone trying to tell it that it had done something wrong.

Complicating the matter is the kingmaker role that First Baptist Garland has played for many years in Garland city politics. For too many decades to recount, many Garland politicians (mayor and city council wannabe's) believed the myth that they couldn't get elected without the blessings of First Baptist. Such was—and still is—the exaggerated political clout of this one congregation.

Also complicating the matter was the fact that many of the city's employees are good, solid Christian, church-going, God-fearing men and women who truly want to believe the best about a church and about people. I'm glad the city hires these kinds of workers , but . . . sometimes this kind of blind adoration can cause a church's shortcomings to be overlooked and excused.

Churches are finite institutions composed of human beings capable of error. Certainly the U.S. constitution gives individuals freedom to worship as they please. But that freedom doesn't give a church the right to impose a health and safety nuisance on its neighbors. Freedom of religion has no greater champion than I am. But just being a church doesn't by any means give it a pass on health, safety, and building codes and any other laws established to protect the public good and which must be honored by all citizens in a city.

In my professional career as a journalist who spent decades writing about organized religion in every form, I have seen many church institutions up close. I have never lost my faith in God despite my seeing the warts of many houses of worship of all stripes. My wife and I are believers, regular church attenders, and contributors. But I am certainly glad that long ago I learned the difference between faith in God Almighty and the actions of institutionalized religion! They definitely are not one and the same.

Finally, one city department head took up the gauntlet. He may have been motivated by some pictures I took of uninvited individuals prowling inside the church's dumpster—throwing Christmas ornaments, papers, and even an old printer on to the sidewalk and street and then hauling off materials, leaving trash in their wake. The pictures clearly showed that the open and ungated dumpster was luring an unwanted element to the neighborhood. It also was allowing litter to blow into the neighborhood and create a nuisance for nearby homes. Whatever it was, I'm grateful that finally after nine years someone was able to muster the courage to stand up and say flatly, "This is wrong! This is not being a good neighbor. This will not continue. The church will become law-abiding. This church will abide by the same set of standards as is required for everyone else in Garland including other churches." How I and our neighbors deeply appreciate this city department and this man and his associates who firmly pursued this matter day after day despite all obstacles.

Sadly, the church dragged its heels to the bitter end. On the last hour of the last day before the city was set to move legally against the church, a church leader agreed to do the right thing. But even then, the foot-dragging continued. Though the church is busy planning a $22-million building expansion, the leader is reported to have said he didn't know a contractor who could build the legally required shelter for the dumpster. At that point the city produced a list of six contractors and basically instructed him, "Pick one!"

I am really proud of this city employee, who under the special encouragement of current District 2 Councilmember Anita Goebel, deserves a special commendation for his courage, skill, ethics, and sense of rightness. I've chosen not to name him publicly, because as I have seen, institutionalized religion doesn't always do the right thing to people that hold it accountable.

Maybe, just maybe, someone wanting to defend the unChristian attitude we encountered for nine long years will remember two basic teachings of Christ:

1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Every year this particular church tosses a cookout advertised as being for the community. It invites neighbors surrounding the church and others for an evening of complimentary burgers and the trimmings. This is commendable, but it can come across as merely shallow window-dressing when the church doesn't take responsibility for its actions that damage its neighbors just one block away.

Today, after all this wrangling, an attractive, compliant dumpster enclosure that is an asset to the church and a much better witness to its neighbors is almost ready for use. Yesterday workers poured the final concrete needed for the structure. Now only gates and a proper lock remain to be added.

But the question lingers: Why, oh why, did it take so long?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Waiting for the concrete to dry. Then more yet to do!

All 56 piers now have been filled with concrete. We are waiting for them to dry. Because of the cold weather our contractor said "to be on the safe side" we need to wait until Monday (Nov. 17) or Tuesday (Nov. 18).

Two iron rods protrude about a foot above ground out of each pier. This is definitely not a place where anyone except the workers would want to walk, especially at night!

Next, the forms have to be put in place to pour the concrete for the beams, leaving a pathway for the truck and tire wheels which will pass over everything to position the house. The contractor said he also will have to "bend" the iron rods on the path the truck and tire wheels will move, then straighten them back up after the house is in place.

This next phase definitely will be rather complicated! But also lots of fun to watch. Glad we can stand at our bedroom window and from the warmth of the house watch all that is going on next door.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"Drill, baby, drill!"

Despite the frigid temperatures, "them Rogers boys", as their sign says, are busy drilling the final holes for the 56 piers on which our newly acquired Pace House will sit.

Some piers vary in depth but most are at least 8-feet deep—a far better and more expensive foundation than the bois d'arc posts on which the house and most of Garland's oldest homes were originally built.

Several houses in the Garland's Travis College Hill Historic District still have at least some, if not all, of their original bois d'arc foundation posts, which have survived nearly 100 years.

The crew expects to finish all the drilling and have the iron bars inserted into the holes by noon today.

Next: inspections. Then: filling the holes with concrete. After that we move to Phase 2: concrete beams and Phase 3: the moving and final lowering of the house.

Nothing easy or inexpensive about this project!

UPDATE: At 3:30 p.m. today, the City of Garland building inspector approved everything (green carded us!), so pouring the concrete starts at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

We are enjoying and thankful for the continuing community interest in our Pace House project!

We thoroughly enjoy watching a handful of cars and pickups almost every day slow down or actually stop for a few moments in front of 317 S. 11th Street to catch a glimpse of the Pace House and the work going on there. Some people in these vehicles even take pictures from their windows or park and get out to take some "selfies" in front of the house.

And we also appreciate the positive and supportive comments people in the community make when we are out shopping, dining, or running other errands in Garland. I've even learned not to look shocked when someone I don't recognize approaches me—as if we are old friends—and starts talking in very specific and knowledgeable terms about all that is occurring in our Travis College Hill Historic District and with the Pace House. I am amazed at how many comment that they have driven down our street to get a personal visual update.

Yesterday we even had some Millennials (also known as Generation Y) say, "That's so cool!" Garland Mayor Douglas Athas tells me the Millennial Generation considers those words a high compliment.

PROGRESS REPORT: The site for the new pier-and-beam foundation has been thoroughly surveyed and marked. Don't even try to get close to it, because some of the twine used connecting all the various components isn't highly easy to see—as I have unfortunately learned a few times! The 8-foot metal forms that will go inside each of the 42 piers are mostly ready. Drilling the holes was supposed to occur yesterday (Saturday, November 8), but like all construction projects in the Dallas-Fort Worth area these days got delayed a day or two. We are hoping "them Rogers Boys", as their own promotional sign calls them, will be digging tomorrow. Maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to have our first official city inspection by Wednesday or Thursday!

More later.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pace House now on our lot; what's next?

Garland's Pace House enters Travis College Hill Historic District

We've been plenty busy this past week supervising the Wednesday, October 15, move of Garland's Historic Pace House from the Patty Granville Arts Center in Downtown Garland to our vacant lot at 317 S. 11th St. The move of less than two miles required massive detail-planning, but that is behind us. Now onward to the future!

In the following Q & A I will try to answer some of the questions that people have posed to us this week:

1. Why is the house now sitting at the back of the lot and not on its new foundation? 

Our contractor felt it best to have the house nearby to double- and triple-check our architect's plans against the reality of the 1890s house. He did not want to build the new foundation before the house arrived at the lot. We certainly didn't want to write a check for the work, then find out a few days or weeks later than something was amiss. By having the house on the lot while the foundation is being drilled and poured, anytime a worker has a question, he can simply go over to the house and re-check the measurements.

2. When do you expect the foundation to be finished and the house moved on to the new foundation?

Our contractor will begin laying out the foundation this week. Then he will drill 42 piers at least 8-feet deep. After that he will insert the iron bars into the holes before we call for the first city inspection. Once those piers pass city inspection, concrete will be poured. Next will be the concrete beams. Some will be poured before the house is suspended over the foundation area; other beams will be poured after the house is moved over the foundation. After everything is complete and approved by the City of Garland, the house will then be lowered on to its new foundation. We expect the entire process to take anywhere from three to four weeks, weather permitting. We don't want to rush the process; we want it done right!

3. Can we go inside and tour the house now? 

No. Sorry. Our insurance company prefers that we hold off on tours until the house it sitting on its permanent foundation. Right now the house is still on its rails and wheels for moving. One has to climb a tall ladder to get on to the front porch, then unlock the door to get into the house.

4. How will the house be used?

We will return the house to its original purpose—a private residence.

After moving the house from its original location on North First at State streets in Garland, the Pace House was moved in 1985 to the city's then-Heritage Park. For the Texas Sesquicentennial the house was renovated as a community center, with meeting rooms, a small kitchen and two public restrooms. Our architect has drawn up plans—which we really like—for restoring the house to basically its original configuration.

5. Will the house have a second story?

It's difficult to tell from the history of the house whether it originally contained a second floor. The Pace family that occupied the house only had one daughter, who had no children. Consequently, lots of bedrooms were not as necessary for them as they were for other farm families in this area who had an abundance of children. However, our architect says we have plenty of room in the attic as it now exists with three dormers for two bedrooms and a full bath, without having to make any adjustments to the roof. 

Initially the house will be restored as a one-story residence with two bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths. Long-term plans call for finishing out the second story with the additional two bedrooms and full bath. The huge entry hall will easily hold a beautiful stairway to the second floor. We already have the architect's drawings in hand for this later addition.

6.  Who will live in the house?

Plans call for leasing the home to a qualified individual or family who have a love for historic houses. We are already compiling a list of people who are in line to lease the house. Our current home, the 1916 Beaver-Walker Home at 313 S. 11th Street, was purchased by us as a rental property, but when we got halfway into the remodeling we decided our furniture "would look great" in the house and changed our minds and moved into it ourselves. We've lived in our current home for 14 years. So who knows? We have no plans to occupy the house ourselves, but our history shows that our plans do change.

7. How well did the house survive the move?

Our preliminary review of the house shows that it survived the move in remarkably good condition. The house was well built to start with and was restored extremely well in 1985.  Frankly, we are amazed at what good shape the house is in right now still sitting on the rails on which it was moved. Because Garland has been dealing with two historic homes, some people have inadvertently confused the Pace House with the much-smaller Lyles-Tinsley House. The Pace House was in far better shape at the start of this decision-making process than the Lyles-Tinsley House was. Even with that said the mover was quite surprised and pleased at how well the Lyles-Tinsley House accommodated the move. He commented that he thought the Lyles-Tinsley House was in far better condition than he had first thought. No question has ever existed about the quality of the condition of the Pace House. As several people said this week, "They don't build houses today like they used to."

8. Do you know the exact date when the Pace House was built?

The sign Garland placed in front of the house when it was in Heritage Park says "circa 1895". We intend to reinstall that sign in front of the Pace House after it is on its foundation. Traditionally, Garland has used 1895 as the date for the house. Some sources say "the late 1890s". However, local Garland historian Jerry Flook says he has found a newspaper article that says the Pace family moved into its new home in 1901. He does not cite a second source that says exactly when construction on the house started. 

On a recent trip to visit the Chickasaw Nation's Historic White House near Tishomingo, OK, we noticed an uncanny and dramatic similarity between that historic national monument and the Pace House (both are Queen Anne style, popular in that period). The National Registry says the Chickasaw White House was begun in 1895 and completed and occupied in 1901. I don't imagine that houses like either of these—with hand-hewn wood and many special features—were built overnight. In 1895-1901 no such thing as Home Depot or Lowes existed.  We will continue to seek out documented evidence on the house's history. Either way, the house is one of the oldest still in existence in Garland—somewhere between 113 and 119 years old.

9. When can the public see the home?

The Pace House will be one of the dwellings in our neighborhood, the Travis College Hill Historic District, that will be available to be toured during the city's next Heritage Week, tentatively set for April 11, 2015. 

10. Will the dwelling always be known as the Pace House?

We intend to keep the name by which the dwelling has always been known.

11. Will the exterior paint color be the same as it has been since 1985 in the city's possession?

We plan to keep the exterior colors very close to those on the house currently.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Can the Garland we remember from 45 years ago still be revived?

The annual Labor Day Parade, like this one today, still brings people back to Downtown Garland.

Forty-five years ago this past weekend, my Garland-reared bride and I left Garland's First Baptist Church in our little 1968 VW bug (price tag new: $1,600) and headed to a life together that would take us to some of the most far-flung and fascinating cities in the United States and some 45 other countries around the world.

Still, the long tether of Garland kept pulling us back to visit family and to see the sad changes happening in Garland's historic downtown area. 

The Garland we left behind in the rearview mirror on August 30, 1969, would within a matter of decades be almost unrecognizable compared to the city we observed that day at the end of the Sixties. 

On our Saturday wedding-day the city's Square bustled with life. Mrs. Nick's variety store on the Square was thriving. Prescriptions could be picked up at nearby McKnight's, where the best chicken-salad sandwiches on the planet were served at the lunch counter. Any little odd or end anyone needed could be bought at Jones Hardware on the Square's north side. Cole & Davis on the Square's west side served as the city's department store.

Groceries—and those little incidentals that one of us would inevitably forget to pack for the trip back to Garland—could be found on Main Street in the Safeway store in the building where the boxing gym now resides. During one visit when I needed a new battery for my car White Auto at Main and South 11th Street was ready to assist me. Gasoline could be purchased a block from the Square. I even once had a flat tire repaired and an oil change performed at that nearby "full-service" gas station near the Square.

Since my in-laws preferred cafeterias to restaurants, every visit included at least one stop at Wyatt's Cafeteria on the corner diagonal to Garland High School, whose students in that day all seemed to be so well-mannered and polite.

And then there were those nightly walks with J.D., my father-in-law. Along about 8 p.m., he'd don his hat and ask expectantly, "Ready to go for a walk?" Off we would go for 30 to 45 minutes—up and down the residential streets of Travis College Hill and other sections of downtown Garland. As we walked, he always courteously inquired about my career, Kay's career, my family, our goals, our life together in Louisville, Houston, Nashville, or wherever we happened to call home at that period of our lives and eventually how everything was going with each of our children. All very pleasant memories.

We'd pass neatly-kept home after home with lights shining through the windows. J.D. would point out who lived where and would talk about what a quiet, safe place Garland was to live and how glad he was that he moved here in 1939 before the city's rapid growth began to occur.

Mayberry came to mind. I thought of Garland as the epitome of Small-Town America. Even though I knew the city's outlying cotton fields and farm land were quickly being gobbled up for new housing additions and shopping centers, I could hardly comprehend Garland as much more than the little cluster of homes and businesses bounded by Garland Avenue, Walnut, First Street, and West Avenue D that I knew in the late 1960s. After all, it contained just about everything someone living in the area needed.

Over the years we saw that things were changing dramatically in the Old City of Garland, but we had no idea how drastically.

Then on August 1, 2000, Kay and I returned to live here permanently (and we still hope for the rest of our lives). Thirty days later on our 31st wedding anniversary, the contrast between the old and current Garland leaped out at us and could not have been more vivid. At 11 a.m. (the time that our wedding had begun years ago) we made a special commemorative visit to First Baptist's sanctuary to remember those special moments and vows years earlier. Immediately we were struck by the changes. Pews with cushions had replaced the uncomfortable pull-down theater seats. The front of the church didn't look the same and neither did the windows, which I remembered so well because of the bright sunlight beaming through them on that beautiful morning in 1969. And the acoustics were oh so different—better but definitely different.

The church, of course, was a microcosm of what had happened all around the downtown area—only in reverse. The church and the other nearby churches in the area looked better and appeared more prosperous, but the city itself didn't. Mayberry was gone. In its place was something we weren't quite sure we were going to like.

We soon assessed that somebody had stolen our quaint, quiet, safe, self-suffient little historic city. Mrs. Nick's was gone; Jones Hardware was dark and vacant. White Auto had been turned into a sign-manufacturing company. Wyatt's Cafeteria was closed and mostly forgotten. One had to drive to Garland Avenue to find a grocery store or a gas station. We quickly determined that walking too far at night might not be the safest thing to do. Sidewalks were not in the best of conditions; traffic, especially in the  the 1970s "couplet" brainchild (the one-way streets ushering State Highway 78 through downtown), seemed much worse than we had remembered; friends and neighbors had grown old; and the city had a much different feel to it.

And most frustrating of all—most of those beautiful, picturesque pre-World War II homes with lights shining through their windows either were gone and their land turned into church buildings and ugly parking lots or were in a state of decay that troubled our hearts.

In recent years the city's leaders have started spending million of dollars to try and revitalize the downtown area by building mixed-use apartments and storefronts near the new DART rail station and along a couple of streets more than eight blocks from our home. And entrepreneurs like our friend Robert A. Smith and ourselves are investing heavily in trying to restore our own little segments of the Old City. Yet,  despite the arrival of a handful of nice restaurants and a few new businesses, so much more needs to be done.

Only time will tell whether these efforts will succeed and Mayberry/Garland can be brought back from the cliff of disaster and the downtown area can be truly revitalized and returned to be a special place for people to live, work, and enjoy life.  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pace House relocation more than just an "old Garland home" project

By Louis Moore

More than just a saga about efforts to save two old houses, the controversy that erupted in spring 2013 over the city’s plans to demolish the Lyles and Pace Houses has been a much-needed catalyst to push Garland to take some needed steps in the arena of historic preservation.

Had the bulldozers been allowed to move against the homes a year ago in May, Garland would have lost much, much more than just the two historic homes that the city owned.

Likewise, had the city quickly opted to spend more than $600,000 in borrowed funds to undo the imbroglio it created when it underestimated the public’s reaction that would ensue from its plans to raze the Lyles and Pace Houses to make way for more apartments, the victory would have been shallow and hollow. Just saving the Lyles and Pace Houses alone would not have stopped the bulldozers and the apathy in the rest of the historic downtown community toward its privately owned historic housing stock.

In 1982 the Texas Historical Commission surveyed the city to determine Garland’s inventory of historic homes. A quick follow-up I conducted a few months ago to learn the status of those homes revealed that somewhere between 25 to 30 percent of those historic beauties identified in the survey as historic and worth saving have been torn down and at least another 20 percent are lacking in the proper care they deserve to prevent their eventual demolition.

For four decades Garland’s leaders have puzzled over why the city’s historic downtown business area was crumbling so badly year by year. They may not have considered that the city’s own laisse-faire approach to historic homes in the downtown area could have been a major culprit. For whatever reason, the city allowed any institution or individual with title to any historic home to demolish it at will without taking into account what the destruction would do to surrounding homeowners or businesses—let alone to the whole community and to the business and tax base in downtown Garland.

When downtown was thriving some 40 years ago—yes, my wife, Kay, and I well remember those glory days—so were the nearby single- family housing communities in downtown Garland. Now that the vast majority of the single-family housing stock in the downtown area has been destroyed or lies in ruins, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the correlation. The city today is spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on new apartments and other amenities trying to draw people back into the downtown area and revive an important but depleted part of the city which it for too long has ignored.

The Lyles and Pace Houses became the rallying cry for those of us who cherish this city’s history, want to see it preserved, and desire somehow to correct four decades of benign neglect and abuse. We are grateful for those who live outside the Downtown area that have joined in the crusade with the tiny group of us who still live in single-family homes in the downtown area.

The compromise plan hammered out over the long months of debate over the fate of the two historic houses now sets the stage to accomplish much, much more—and at a much fairer price tag to taxpayers—than had the city simply agreed to pay the original $600,000-plus that was debated.

The Lyles House rightfully will remain under city ownership. Under the leadership of Mayor Douglas Athas, City Council has agreed to spend $179,000 to move the home to an area that it once shied away from using—city-owned land next to the historic rail car and rail station in the new Walnut Corridor near the new Fourth Street Crossing. Its full and future restoration now rests in how a public/private partnership will be put together and will work to raise funds to restore the home into a museum of early Garland life.

The Pace House will go into private ownership. After a long and arduous bureaucratic journey the city is preparing to accept the only offer it had to keep the house in historic downtown. Other bonafide, written offers were to move the house to another Texas city and to some unidentified area in Garland.

Presuming City Council approves on July 1 the final resolution to this matter, my wife and I will spend nearly the same amount on the move and restoration of the Pace House that the city will spend on the Lyles House to relocate the 1895-vintage Pace home onto the one vacant lot remaining in our neighborhood in Garland’s first historic district, created on May 20 by a unanimous City Council action at the urging of all of our neighbors and us.

Our same neighborhood which unanimously petitioned City Council for the historic designation also enthusiastically supports our desire to adopt the Pace House into our neighborhood—the Travis College Hill Historic District, lying on South 11th Street (the original Garland Avenue!) between West Avenues B and D. We and our neighbors recognize that the relocation of the Pace House—to the center of our historic district—and its historicity and beauty will function as another “crown jewel” for our area, one of the few remaining intact neighborhoods in downtown Garland.

Unlike the Oaks organization that is building the new downtown apartments, Kay and I will get no financial help from the city to take this plunge. No tax abatement. No financial incentive. Nothing. Once the trailer bearing the Pace House begins its move from behind the Patty Granville Performing Arts Center, all costs and liability become our responsibility. We will even be paying the city’s many building permit fees that will be required, for the city’s street lights that will have to be temporarily moved during the relocation, and all the other associated costs—and then later the high privilege of paying taxes to the city, county and school district on the restored property. Not a bad deal at all for the city from a house it nearly bulldozed 13 months ago!

Why would we do this? Because we love Historic Downtown Garland and we love living here. We want to see the entire area revived, restored, and highly respected—and not torn down nor filled with apartments, used-car lots, church-parking lots, and the distant dream of more consumer-friendly businesses returning somehow, some way, some day to the downtown area.

The 1895 vintage Queen Anne-style Pace House will sit alongside our other historic homes, five of which date to 1915-1918 and the other five which date to the 1920s through 1960. (One additional home built in 2002 will join the rest of the houses in our neighborhood as “historic” in only 38 more years.)

Unlike its sister cities in the Dallas Metroplex and most cities its size and larger around the entire country, Garland has lagged woefully far, far behind in establishing preservation laws and guidelines for historic homes and other historic structures. For that reason Garland had already lost a significant chunk of its historic homes, with more targeted to join the march to the landfill.

I believe that based on their track records and other actions so far this year, our mayor and city council have the conviction and courage to now tackle the issue of historical preservation to its logical conclusion and a positive outcome. The door has now been opened so these leaders can walk through it without fighting a political firestorm and bring about a new era in Garland history where past and present merge in a beautiful marriage of mutual respect and harmony.

What makes our neighborhood different is that we voluntarily banded together, generated our own voluntary preservation standards, requested that City Council endorse our quest, and intend to continue to build the model for what Historic Downtown Garland really should have been like all along—and what it should look like in the future.

Our standards include Garland’s first-ever restrictions on the demolition of historic houses. These protect only the 11 houses currently in our district—and the umbrella will extend to the Pace House once it is in place—but could be used as a roadmap for other areas in the downtown area, nearby, or in other parts of Garland.

Government-sponsored, beautiful apartments are commendable, especially surrounding the new modern DART rail station and along Fourth and Fifth Streets, where the devastation was apparent to anyone arriving at the train stop in downtown. After four decades of neglect, some strong catalysts were necessary in those areas to get the economic and social engines firing again and to get this important job done in downtown.

The free enterprise system does work best, however, in areas like ours when city government recognizes its role of supporting and enabling citizens—such as those of us in our new Historic District—to keep and maintain their homes and helps them hold back the forces of destruction and evil that have ruined far too many other inner cities across the nation!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

History of Travis College Hill Historic District in Garland, TX

On May 20, 2014, the Garland (TX) City Council unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the Travis College Hill Addition in Garland as the city's first officially designated historic district. Included in that resolution was Addendum A, the History of Travis College Hill, researched and written by Louis and Kay Moore. The Dallas Morning News published the entire 13-page history online and other media outlets have published excerpts from that history in articles about the new Historic District.

Since that document is crucial to what I will be writing about in this blog, I want to share this with my readers here:

Garland’s South 11th Street (the first Garland Avenue):
a former prominent byway worthy of special recognition

Today the name Garland Avenue represents a stretch of road that extends to the President George Bush Freeway at one of its ends and passes White Rock Lake (after the street becomes Garland Road in Dallas) on another.

But a century ago, Garland Avenue was a thoroughfare situated in a totally different location than is the current byway of that name. Only a few blocks long, the first Garland Avenue was a wide residential street that housed some of Garland’s finest homes and some of its most prominent citizens. The remaining two-block portion of the street produced three Garland mayors, a GISD school-board president, and five city councilmen (or aldermen, as they were called until 1956), as well as some of the city’s best-known civic, political, and religious leaders.

Garland residents from the early part of the last century recall it as Garland’s silk-stocking district.1,2 It was believed to be the first street in town to have concrete sidewalks. 3 Its dwellings represented some of the finest examples of that day’s architecture—definitely a coveted spot for families of that era to make their homes.  The fact that the first Garland Avenue was titled to bear the name of its city hints of the street’s preeminence.

Today this street is known to Garland citizens as South 11th Street. Although only a few of those grand homes of a former day exist, many of these almost 100-year-old structures have been painstakingly maintained and restored. If they could talk, they would tell of their owners’ hosting weddings and wedding receptions, the lying-in-state of deceased loved ones, countless teas and club meetings, and parties honoring current and future political leaders, including both former Presidents George W. and George H.W. Bush when they were making early runs for office.

This report will explain why this street and the surrounding addition became so prominent and will examine the historic context in which the addition was created. It also will give a summary of each dwelling in the remaining intact two-block area and will demonstrate why this rare collection of Garland residences from bygone eras merits special recognition that acknowledges their distinction.

The context:

Garland was formed from the merger of two settlements—Embree and Duck Creek. A rivalry had ensued as the area began to grow around the Santa Fe Railroad depot. To settle a dispute about which town should have the post office, postal officials opted to move the post office between the two towns and name it Garland, to honor U.S. Attorney General A.H. Garland. 4 No vote was ever taken by either township to merge with the other, says Garland historian Mike Hayslip. The merger simply began occurring after the post office issue and a parallel court suit were settled. With mail to both Duck Creek and Embree now addressed to Garland, other official government records, such as the federal census, began to follow suit in using the name Garland for both areas. In 1891 the City of Garland was formally incorporated, marking the official beginning of the City of Garland, he says. Before that neither Embree nor Duck Creek had been legally incorporated and officially recognized. 5

Two decades after the legal incorporation of Garland, townspeople of the new Texas city of Garland continued their efforts toward fashioning a consolidated community that would have a separate identity from either of its former antecedent towns.

In 1910, Garland was a stand-alone, small rural town of 804 people. By 1920 the city’s population almost doubled to 1,421. 6 Only decades later would anyone even begin to fathom this tiny community as becoming the fifth largest city in the huge, world-class Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.7

That crucial decade between 1910 and 1920 was formative not only for the city’s growth but also for the new city’s identity and future.  

In this tumultuous decade, which saw the nation plunge into World War I and emerge as a leading world power:

1.     Garland’s business center served rural residents from miles around who arrived in their horse-drawn carriages and wagons for their weekly shopping and other activities. The hub of economic activity was the downtown area formed around the city’s new “Square”, which was deeded to the city in 1899 after the “great fire” destroyed much of the town’s commercial center. 8 The people who operated these centers of commerce lived either close by in the countryside or within the new city’s limits.
2.     The migration from farm to city that was beginning to occur all across America focused the attention of local farmers on Garland as a place for better educational and advancement opportunities for their children and better socialization means for their entire families. During this decade some built “second” homes in Garland to take advantage of the opportunities the new city afforded and others moved their families entirely to the new city. 9
3.     Garland found itself swept up in the nation’s shift from the old “horse-and-buggy” days to the modern era of electric trolleys and gasoline-driven automobiles.  Garland was targeted to become a major stop on the new Interurban electric trolley line linking Dallas to Greenville. The Interurban was somewhat akin to the DART rail system of today that links Dallas with its suburbs. 10

Amid the excitement of the era, those with a keen eye for development began to look for ways to help Garland grow by creating “additions” (now called subdivisions) that would house newcomers. One of these new additions, which was among the larger ones, was the Interurban Land Company’s Travis College Hill Addition, which was legally platted and incorporated on January 3, 1913, utilizing farm land on the western “outskirts” of Garland, 11 now part of that which is designated by current Garland planners as “Uptown Garland”. 12

Travis College Hill Addition was carved out of a 73 1/3-acre tract owned at the time by early Garland pioneers Richard C. and Sallie F. Walker Wyatt. The tract originally was part of the Letter Patent No. 245 of the Nacogdoches District of Dallas County from Texas Governor E. M. Pease to James L. Blue on June 2, 1854. 13

Developer R.O. Travis joined with Garland landowner and community leader Wyatt to inaugurate the Travis College Hill Addition on Wyatt’s property on the western edge of town that abutted the planned route of the new Interurban trolley line.

Uncertainty exists in directly linking the Interurban Land Company, which developed the addition, with the Eastern Traction Company, which planned and owned the Interurban. However, a stated goal of the Eastern Traction Company was to increase the populations of city-stops along the Interurban route by at least 25 percent in order to make the Interurban more profitable. Thus, the land company’s actions meshed with the Eastern Traction Company’s goal. 14

Landowner Wyatt was a brother-in-law to Eastern Traction Company stockholder and Garland civic leader A.J. Beaver. Wyatt’s family home was situated on the northern end of what is now 11th Street, slightly north of the boundaries of the new Travis College Hill Addition. 15

A.J. Beaver and his nephew, farmer James Beaver, and James’ wife, Edith (for whom Garland ISD’s Edith Beaver Elementary School was later named), became some of the first homeowners and residents in the new addition. 16

The Travis College Hill Addition would have been particularly attractive to buyers because the Interurban railway was designed to provide a means for residents to quickly get to and from downtown Dallas and/or downtown Greenville and all spots in between. Eastbound travelers were supposed to travel quickly to such cities as Rockwall, Royse City, and Greenville. The westbound route was to run straight from Garland to downtown Dallas. Garland was viewed as a major hub for this particular Interurban line. At the time similar Interurban trolleys were developing all across Texas to link major cities and their neighbors. 17

In that day on the eve of Henry Ford’s expansion of the automobile few people had private cars; most people still traveled by horse and buggy. Although it is not known exactly where railcar stops were planned in Garland, the proposed route of the Interurban was to travel directly up and down Mewshaw Avenue (now Avenue D), which was the local link to the main road to Dallas. Mewshaw formed the southern boundary of the new Travis College Hill Addition18 ; very likely a stop near the addition would have been contemplated.

Thus, a property owner could have been attracted to buy a piece of property in the Travis College Hill Addition with the enticement of being only a stone’s throw from an Interurban stop.

The new addition also held a number of other conveniences that added to its appeal.

The original 42 lots in Travis College Hill were either (depending on their location) 50- or 65-feet wide by either 190- or 175-feet in length. 19 The lot sizes were adequate not only for houses but also water wells, outhouses, chicken coops, small barns, gardens, and small orchards, all of which flourished in the early days of the addition. Evidence of these elements remain today in the yards and homes of some of the current addition residents.

Property owners in the new Travis College Hill Addition not only would have enjoyed close proximity to shopping around Garland’s “Square” but also an easy walk to the city’s four Protestant churches—Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Christian (Disciples)—that formed the nucleus of Garland’s bustling religious life in that day. 20

The new addition also had adjacent to its northeast corner the sole educational institution in town. At that time Garland had only one school, which was situated between what was then “Hill Street” and “Thorpe Street” at “First Street” (today’s Avenues A and B and 9th Street). The school accommodated all grades. Previously it had been known as Garland College, a subscription school founded in 1887. Its curriculum covered primary, high school and college levels, thus the name “college”. Voters in 1901 approved a school district, today known as the Garland ISD, and held public classes in the Garland College building. 21 At some point the college curriculum was dropped, but no records seem to exist of the exact date; it could have occurred around the time of the 1901 election and decision for the school district to take over the school building. GISD was never intended to include college-level curriculum, Hayslip says. 22

 According to topographical maps, the school also sat on the crest of one of the higher elevations in the original city. 23 Perhaps this was the reason Avenue A was originally named “Hill Street”, although some have wondered whether the street was named for Confederate General A.P. Hill, who had no connection with Garland except through Southern history.

Thus the Addition’s name likely was derived from:
1.     R.O. Travis, the developer
2.     Its proximity to the school, once known as a “college”, and
3.     The location of the “college” on the “hill”.

At the heart of the Travis College Hill addition was the very first Garland Avenue, a name that would continue to be used repeatedly throughout the city’s history for other thoroughfares. The fact that the present 11th Street was originally named Garland Avenue hints of its preeminence in the addition and thus in the 21-year-old city as well.

Because of everything already mentioned, the new addition began attracting—and would continue to do so—many of Garland’s civic, religious, commercial, and educational leaders. Later in this document we will identify by name and date the collection of mayors, city council members, school officials, and civic, business, and religious leaders who lived on one stretch of old Garland Avenue.

As the decade progressed, the Eastern Traction Company slipped into bankruptcy and then oblivion after citizens, including Garland stockholders, began to question how their dollars were being spent to build the new railway. The Interurban never ran between Dallas and Garland or Garland to Greenville. The Interurban dream was soon demolished by the upheaval of World War I and the arrival of Henry Ford’s mass-produced Model T automobile. Over the next two decades other Interurban lines across Texas deteriorated and faded from history, too. 24

While urban archaeologists have much difficulty even finding remnants of the construction sites for the Eastern Traction Company’s trolley line through Garland, the Travis College Hill Addition still exists as a historical monument to Garland’s life a century ago and the dream of an electric-car line that never was.

In the intervening 101 years most of the historic homes in the original Travis College Hill Addition have been destroyed and the land on which they sat used for church buildings and church parking lots. Today only a tiny core of the old addition remains, centered mostly on that which lies between the current Avenues B and D along South 11th Street (the old Garland Avenue). 

The six most historic homes, which date to 1915-1918, in the two-block strip being recommended to become Garland's first Historic Residential Neighborhood sat on two or three lots each. Except for the property at 313 S. 11th St., over the years the combined lots for the other five homes were subdivided to make way for the five additional homes, built between the 1930s and 2001, and for road expansions (Avenues B and D, today a.k.a. State Highways 78 and 66). 25

The homes:

301 South 11th Street—Perhaps one of the most significant residences in the two-block area, this yellow one-story is an extremely fine representation of the Craftsman-style home that was popular in the early 1900s. Andrew Jackson Beaver built the house. He was a grocer whose store was situated on the town square’s north side near where Jones Hardware now stands. Beaver was a Garland alderman and was married to the former Ella Walker, who had moved to Texas from Tennessee and was a sister to Sallie F. Walker Wyatt (mentioned in the earlier paragraph about Travis College Hill.) Built in 1915, it housed the Beavers and their two children who still lived at home—Ilma and Ralph. Beaver obtained plans for the house from his wife’s cousin, Slater B. Wyatt, a Plano doctor who had built an almost identical one on Plano’s 16th Street in 1908 (the Wyatt house remains standing in Plano and bears a historical marker). 301 South 11th backed up to a cotton field in the area currently occupied by the Garland High School campus (high school was still being conducted in a building on 9th Street; the current high-school site was farm land until the new campus was finished in 1936).

Originally painted gray in color, the spacious front porch with its distinctive Craftsman-style columns was the scene of the 1919 wedding of the Beavers’ daughter, Ilma Hortense, to Samuel Robert Weir, who operated a drugstore on the north side of the square, where Baker Furniture is today. The Weirs and their daughter, Hortense, born a year later, lived in the dwelling alongside the Beavers until 1924, when they moved to a house of their own. However, after A.J. Beaver (who also served as Garland school board president) died in 1935, the Weirs moved back in to take care of Mrs. Beaver until her passing a few months later in 1936. Sam Weir died in 1963, but Mrs. Weir lived on in the house almost until the time of her passing at age 91 in 1988. (The Weirs’ daughter Virginia and granddaughter Elizabeth Ann had their wedding receptions on the site as well.)

Now beautifully maintained by current residents Dale and Hillary Adams, 301 South 11th Street is painted butter yellow with a red front door. The current Avenue B, which passes the dwelling on its north side, did not exist in the house’s early days and was the home’s driveway, which the city expanded for constructing a street when the new high school opened in 193626

309 South 11th Street—This one-story frame cottage once was the home of Fred Holmes and his wife, Willie Kate Holmes. Fred was a printer for the Garland Daily News and later for other papers in the U.S.; Willie Kate was a clubwoman from Garland’s early days and organized the Willie Kate Holmes Preschool Mothers Club.  She was daughter of Will Asa Holford, longtime editor of the Garland Daily News. Her son, Bill Holmes, and her daughter, Sue Holmes Watkins, both have had lifetimes of civic involvement in Garland; Sue worked for the Garland Daily News and still writes a column about Garland for the Neighbors Go section of the Dallas Morning News. Bill wrote an article of memoirs about growing up on 11th Street as he lived at the 309 South 11th Street address.. 27
The home currently is owned by Louis and Kay Wheeler Moore and is maintained as investment property.

311 South 11th Street—Carl “Mac” McCarty and wife Ann, who lived in 309 South 11th Street after the Holmes family relocated and while their three children attended Garland High School in the late 1950s and early 1960s, built this one-story tan brick structure on a portion of the original 309 S. 11th St. property after their children were grown. Then they sold the 309 property. As a widow Ann McCarty remained in the home almost up until her passing in 2007. The three McCarty children—Jerry, Carolyn Eads, and Carl—currently own the home. Carl, an engineer, is the house’s present occupant. 28

313 South 11th Street—This one-story, Prairie-style frame home dates to 1916 and originally was the home of James E. and Edith Lola McCollum Beaver. Jim Beaver was a farmer; Edith managed the school cafeteria when all 12 grades met beneath one roof on 9th Street before the current high school was built in 1936. The family donated some of its farmland off Jupiter near Buckingham so the school district could build Edith Beaver Elementary, named for Mrs. Beaver and opened in 1960. Jim was a nephew to A.J. Beaver, mentioned earlier as having built the house at 301 S. 11th. 29

Shortly after Jim Beaver passed in 1938, H.A. (Bud) and Evelyn Walker purchased the home and lived in it until the early 1960s. Bud Walker was president of Garland’s First National Bank and became a Garland councilman and later mayor. Evelyn was a long-time Garland elementary-school teacher. In a major renovation in the early 1950s the Walkers removed the large L-shaped front porch to build an additional bedroom, greatly expanded the living and dining rooms, and added closets in the master bedroom, which had none.30

Current owners and occupants of the house are Louis and Kay Wheeler Moore. Kay grew up down the street at 412 South 11th and remembers bringing her homework papers to 313 to give to Mrs. Walker, her 2nd-grade teacher. The Moores have reinstated a large front porch, added a music room, converted an enclosed breezeway and old garage into an office suite, built a new two-car garage inside a gated courtyard, and have added a two-story crafts studio in a separate building in the back yard, among many other updates. 31  

317 South 11th Street—This new lot was created in 2013 when the Garland City Council voted unanimously to close West Avenue C from South 11th Street to the alley between the homes on the street and Garland High School and sell the right of way to Louis and Kay Wheeler Moore, who own both sides of that street segment. Once mostly used as a driveway for the 401 S. 11th property, the street segment in recent years was nicknamed by the neighborhood  “Marijuana Avenue” because of the rampant illegal drug activity that occurred there on almost all school days.  After the Moores obtained ownership of the right of way, they merged 20 feet from their 401 S. 11th investment property with the 40-foot right of way to create in a replat a new 60-foot-by-190-foot lot that meets today’s city standards for development.32 The Moores intend either to secure an historic home similar in style and period to the neighborhood and have the house moved on to the new lot or to build a new home that would be a replica of their home at 313 S. 11th as it existed before the renovations of Mr. and Mrs. Walker and other later owners after the 1950s.

401 South 11th Street—Early physician Dr. Clarence S. Brown built this white-frame residence in the airplane-bungalow Craftsman style. It features an oversized 48-inch wide front door, common in vintage homes to ensure that caskets could pass through the door when a loved one lay in state after passing. Dr. Brown delivered children in prominent families including A.R. Davis Jr. in 1911. 33 Somewhere between about 1928 and 1932 the owners applied a “horizontal slice” to the dwelling and removed the top story (or pop-up story of one or two rooms) to relocate it in an adjacent lot as a separate dwelling. This was not uncommon in the Depression Era as families sought ways to generate income and could sell or rent the smaller portion as a separate residence. Among other original owners were J.M. and Allie Hamilton, whose daughter Allie Merle married Claude Shugart and taught for many years in Garland schools. Allie Merle’s daughter, Dr. Jill Shugart, is a former superintendent of the Garland Independent School District.

In latter years it became the home of Leo Alphonsus Whitman and his wife, Irene Mary Dvoracek Whitman. Both were from families that were part of the early settlement of Rowlett, a community east of Garland.34

Louis and Kay Wheeler Moore now own the home and use it as investment property.

403 South 11th Street—This modern brick one-story replaced the frame “horizontal-slice” layer that formerly was the top pop-up story of the Hamilton home at 401. In 2001 Tom Cooper of Cooper Concrete Co. razed the frame dwelling that had been moved onto the lot and had the current brick house built for his mother-in-law, Sue Harbor.35

411 South 11th—The walls of this spacious, expansive two-story frame hold memories of political receptions that saw both Presidents Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush, as well as countless other Republican Party hopefuls and office-holders, as honorees. GOP volunteers Charles and Winifred Stokes presided over gathering after gathering in this gracious home, which could accommodate large numbers of guests. As a child Charles had visited in the home of his aunt and uncle, who lived across Avenue D from 401 South 11th. Later he recalled gazing longingly at the commanding residence, with a large screened-in porch that faced Avenue D, and hoping that some day it might be his home. 36 Ultimately he and Winifred did purchase it and therein reared their four children, which include former Dallas County State District Judge Charles A. Stokes and daughter Nell Stokes Moser, a Washington D.C. architect who helped design the Pentagon restoration after the 9/11 attacks.

Another long-term owner was G. Lester Davis, of Hudson Davis and later Cole & Davis Dry Goods on the Garland Square. G. Lester Davis was an early-day president of the Garland Chamber of Commerce and was a Garland mayor.

Contractor Jim Bird and his wife, Cindy, purchased the home from the Stokes family after Charles and Winifred moved to care facilities. Jim and Cindy Bird, who have done extensive work to maintain the grandeur of this historic home, also own 1010 West Avenue D, which fronts onto South 11th and is the former home of longtime Garland Daily News publisher and former Garland mayor William Henry Bradfield. 37

416 South 11th—Longtime residents of this white frame one-story were Rev. James McCabe Hunt and his wife Emma L. Crozier Hunt. Members of the Hunt family lived in this house from 1937 until the passing of the last Hunt child, Mary Hunt Brown, in 2002. Rev. Hunt was pastor of Antioch Baptist Church (predecessor to Garland’s First Baptist Church) from 1909 to 1914 and is credited with helping the sparring Antioch and the existing First Baptist congregations mend fences and reunite. He later held pastorates in Killeen, Grapevine, and McKinney, among others, before he and Mrs. Hunt returned to Garland in retirement. He was active as pastor emeritus at First Baptist, just down the street. Mrs. Hunt was a gifted hostess; the large living room of the home often was lined with participants in women’s study clubs and other organizations of which Mrs. Hunt and her daughter Louise were members. Louise, who remained single and who lived in the home to care for her parents, was longtime typing teacher at Garland High School and sponsor of the Owl’s Nest.  “Brother” Hunt died in 1957 and Mrs. Hunt in 1973.38

When Mary Hunt Brown passed away, the family donated the dwelling to First Baptist Church to be used to house missionaries on stateside assignment. Rev. Hunt’s sister, Bertha Hunt, had been a missionary to Brazil, so the family wanted to honor her memory with this gift. The home was used actively as a missionary residence for several years but has been vacant for nearly four years. 39

Jim and Cindy Bird are actively seeking to purchase the home from First Baptist and are eager to restore it to its former grandeur.

412 South 11th—Originally the tract of land on which this salmon-colored brick one-story was built was a part of the Hunt property at 416, where it was used as Rev. Hunt’s prolific fruit orchard. In 1951 J.D. and Mable Wheeler approached the Hunt family with a desire to purchase the orchard property for constructing their residence. After initial hesitation, the Hunts ultimately agreed to subdivide the land. On the tract, which extends to a full one-block depth, the Wheelers first built a miniscule, one-bedroom frame cottage that faced 10th street and lived in it for eight years until 1960, when they built the three-bedroom, brick one-story that faces 11th.

James Doyce Wheeler had arrived in Garland in 1939 to work as the clerk at the Garland post office when Garland was a town of less than 2,000. In 1941 he married Mable Evelyn Miller of Delta County and brought her to Garland as his bride. Their first home was a rented room in the home of Mrs. Texie Tomlinson on north 11th Street. Ultimately J.D. became assistant postmaster under F. Ben Crush and then acting postmaster, while Mable first was secretary to the Garland schools superintendent and later ran a public mailing and addressing service. After he retired from the post office, J.D. had a long career in Garland real estate and printing.

Mable was a leading Garland clubwoman, with involvements in the Story League, and Garland Federation of Women’s Clubs and a founder of the Garland Women’s Activities Building. Together with J.D. she helped put the Republican Party on the map in Garland and was precinct chairman, worked for candidates, and helped hold elections. Their daughter, Kay Wheeler Moore, is a veteran Texas journalist, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, and an author. After J.D. passed away in 1993, Mable remained in her home until a month before her passing in 2005.

Mable’s granddaughter, Dr. Catharine Moore Welch, had as her fondest wish that she could hold her wedding reception in the back yard of her grandmother’s home, which was resplendent with flowers in the spring. Although Mable was deceased in 2007 at the time of the wedding, Louis and Kay Moore continue to own the property for investment purposes. So on May 26, 2007, as Catharine married Casey Welch, once again 11th Street was the scene of wedding festivities as it had been in the 1920s and 1930s.40

404 South 11th—This one-story white frame bungalow was the longtime home of Claude Talmadge Kenney and his wife, Nora Mae Ramsey Kenney. Nora was the daughter of Garland physician Dr. Frank Lafayette Ramsey, the first doctor to practice in Rose Hill and who later had an office in the Garland bank building. 41

From the front room of her 11th Street home Nora taught piano for decades despite being immensely physically challenged. Countless Garland youngsters learned piano under Mrs. Kenney’s tutelage. Claude was a landscaper for private homes. Interestingly, since the Kenneys’ deaths, Ron Bush, a landscape man who has a private business, and his family have owned the home.

400 South 11th—Another home of the “airplane-bungalow” Craftsman style, this dwelling was the longtime residence of Curtis Crossman Sr. and his wife, Dixie Tucker Crossman. As with the Stokes and Wheeler residences, the Crossman home was the scene of more club functions and political receptions than anyone could count. Dixie was the quintessential Southern hostess; an invitation to her home was a coveted experience, to be sure.42

Interestingly Dixie had grown up down the street as one of many daughters in the home of Elihu Henderson Tucker and his wife, Aurelia, at 201 South 11th. Charming stories abound of the Tucker daughters marrying in the flower-bedecked garden of the Tucker home.43 Curtis was the son of Garland pioneer and mayor George W. Crossman, who was born in South America and arrived in Garland as a college-educated man who edited the Embree newspaper. 44 Curtis Crossman Sr. operated an insurance agency on the Garland Square and was a city councilman.

Current owners are Greg and Becky Baxter, who have renovated the home as well as built a highly visible outdoor kitchen and living area in the backyard. The Baxters’ daughter, Ivy, married in a ceremony on the house’s front lawn; both Ivy and the Baxters’ son, Grant, had their wedding receptions held in the back yard.

Former homes on South 11th:
Although only memories remain of the four grand homes that previously occupied the east side of South 11th between Avenues B and C, they deserve brief sketches of mention, since they also housed important Garlandites who played a key role in this community.

316 South 11th Street—Early residents were Walter W. Gulley, who had a Ford business in town, and his wife, Ada.45 This home, built in about 1919, was almost a twin in design to the Crossman home at 400 South 11th. Later, in the 1950s, it belonged to the Robert Riker family. A Riker daughter, Sylvia Mitchell, kept the home in the family and lived in it until it was torn down.46

308 South 11th Street—Home of Ray and Gretchen Goodson. Ray was an architect and owned a lumberyard. The house was a white brick structure with a porch across its front. 47

304 South 11th Street—Home of Willis Carney Jamison and wife, Myrtle Alabama Brown Jamison. 48 Originally from Grayson County, W.C. Jamison moved to Garland in the early 1920s and quickly established himself as a city leader, as he served four consecutive terms as an alderman from 1924 to 1929 and then mayor of Garland in 1930-31 and 1934-35. He was a sales manager of the cottonseed breeding plant.

Before the Jamisons the home belonged to Ben Jackson, the longtime Chevrolet dealer and Garland alderman. 49

300 South 11th Street—A two-story belonging to Charles Mason, a well-known Garland carpenter, and his wife Fannie. Kids in the neighborhood loved to play around in the wood-shavings in his workshop and admire the wood products and the tools to shape them. This home was finished in 1919. 50, 51

The properties that comprised this square block in March 1992 were sold according to Dallas County records to Garland’s First Presbyterian Church, which then tore the homes down and built a parking lot on the north side and maintains the southern half of the block as a green space awaiting future church expansion. Starting in the 1980s, Garland's First Presbyterian Church and First Baptist Church purchased many of the other historic homes in Travis College Hill and tore them down for new buildings and parking lots. An effort in the 1990s by First Baptist Church to secure most of the remaining houses was unsuccessful after a strong backlash from Preservationist-oriented owners in the existing neighborhood.


Residents of what remains of Travis College Hill Addition today are proud of their neighborhood’s history and its legacy of influence on the life of Garland for more than a century. Because of its important and fascinating history and its strong ties to Garland’s long-ago life, the residents request that Garland City Council designate their remnant of the Travis College Hill Addition that lies along South 11th Street from West Avenue B to West Avenue D as Garland’s First Historic Residential Neighborhood and that the street in the district be symbolically renamed  “Old Garland Avenue”.


1.     Interview with Hortense Weir Smith (September 28, 2013), who grew up on 11th Street in the 1920s
2.     Interview with Margaret McDaniel Branham (November 2002), who spent a portion of her married life as an 11th Street resident.
3.     Smith interview
4.     Garland: A Contemporary History, by Richard Abshire (a publication of the Garland Chamber of Commerce,) San Antonio: Historical Publishing Network, 2009) 5
5.     Interview with noted Garland historian Michael R. Hayslip (January 9, 2014)
6.     U.S. Decennial Census, Texas Almanac  1850-2000,,_Texas, accessed 1/7/2014.
9.     Smith interview
10.  Eastern Texas Traction Company, A Greenville to Dallas Interurban Railway 1913, by Jerry L. Brewer, November 14, 1989
11.  Dallas Abstract No. 60241
12.  New proposed Garland Development Code map, 2014
13.  Dallas County Abstract 60228
14.  Eastern Texas Traction Company, 6
15.  Smith interview
16.  Smith interview
17.  Eastern Texas Traction Company, 1
18.  Eastern Texas Traction Company, map, 22
19.  The addition’s original plat, 1913
20.  Garland: A Contemporary History, 55
21.  Ibid.
22.  Hayslip interview
23.  Nagle, Witt, Rollins Engineering Co.’ “Datum Mean Sea Level” topographical map dated 1922 showing the elevations in Garland in that era. Email from Jerry Flook of Preservation Garland, November 18, 2013
24.  Eastern Texas Traction Company, 12
25.  Dallas County deeds and records for the properties in the neighborhood
26.  Smith interview
27.  Interview with Bill Holmes (September 28, 2013), who grew up on 11th Street
28.  Various conversations with Carl McCarty and Carolyn McCarty Eads
29.  Smith interview
30.  Conversations with Walker family members over various years.
31.   The Moores are the authors of this report.
32.  Garland City Council minutes August 13, 2013 and November 19, 2013)
33.  Interview with Michael R. Hayslip, October 29, 2013
34.  Smith interview
35.  Moore
36.  Stokes family conversations
37.  Recollections of Louis and Kay Wheeler Moore, who previously owned the home at 1010 West Avenue D
38.  Recollections of Kay Wheeler Moore, who grew up next door to the Hunts
39.  Conversations with Crozier Brown, Mary Brown’s surviving son
40.  “In the Garden Alone”, Way Back in the Country Garden, Kay Wheeler Moore (Garland, TX: Hannibal Books, 2010), 37-43
41.  “Rose Hill’s Pioneer Doctor”, Leola Searles, Proud Heritage III, Pioneer Families of Dallas County Vol. III (Dallas County Pioneer Association),  314-315
42.  Recollections of Kay Wheeler Moore, who grew up living near the Crossman family
43.  Branham interview
44.  Hayslip interview, September 18, 2013
45.  Smith interview
46.  Kay Wheeler Moore recollections
47.  Smith interview
48.  Smith interview
49.  Smith interview
50.  Smith interview
51.  Holmes interview