The Intersection of Reynolds Avenue and Westmoreland Boulevard, 1912

One of the things we understandably don’t think about much is that the names of streets, even major streets, sometimes change over time. Why does this happen? I guess sometimes it’s to honor a person but other times I just don’t know. In any event, it can leave gaps in my understanding even of photographs that are labeled. Here’s one that I noticed a while back, a picture of the April 1912 flood that I’ve talked about before, labeled neatly in the bottom left corner:

April1912Flood(kids in water)

It’s an impressive amount of water, but where the heck is the intersection of Reynolds Avenue and Westmoreland Boulevard?

There’s a nice clue in the box full of maps and drawings that I came across before Christmas, a 1909 map I’ve never seen anywhere before called “Westmoreland Farms.”

Map of Westmoreland Farms

Zoom in and there’s Reynolds Avenue Road, running north to south along the west side of the still undeveloped Rice Institute property. (You can also see the notch along Main Street where Charles Weber’s farm was.) What I can’t find is any evidence of Westmoreland Boulevard, although it must be near campus somewhere for them to have bothered to photograph it. I wonder if it might actually refer to Bellaire Boulevard, which goes out to Westmoreland Farms. That would explain the presence of those tracks in the foreground of the picture, wouldn’t it? Or am I all turned around? Help me out here, people.

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24 Responses to The Intersection of Reynolds Avenue and Westmoreland Boulevard, 1912

  1. Karl Benson '62 says:

    I think you’ve got it, although Bellaire is still W. Holcombe at that point. The lines overhead appear to be a power line (which the streetcar would need) and perhaps a telephone line.
    Reynolds Ave. is now Kirby Dr. The north-south property lines beginning at the west edge of the campus are present-day Greenbriar, Morningside, Kirby, Wakeforest, Buffalo Speedway and Edloe. “Richmond Road” southwest from the A.C. Reynolds Survey is now Bissonnet, which at the time was just “County Road” east of that point.

  2. Yes, I agree. I’ll bet the picture is mis-labeled and the writer meant “the boulevard to Westmoreland Farms,” or present day Bellaire Boulevard, which as far as I can find was always called that. The area is still called “Westmoreland Farms” by Bellaire residents. There, of course was the small Westmoreland Addition and Westmoreland Street just south of Courtlandt Place, but I believe that’s a red herring for this question.

  3. Richard Schafer says:

    I think Marty’s right. I grew up in Bellaire (in what is still identified as the Westmoreland Farms subdivision), and I’m pretty sure that Bellaire Blvd was always named that. The “Toonerville Trolley” started operation in 1910 down Bellaire Blvd. (The Holcombe portion was a later rename by Houston, which never set well with Bellaire.) What I’d never realized until today was that Westmoreland Farms was originally the Wm. Marsh Rice ranch, which was purchased by Wm. Baldwin (a relative of Elizabeth Baldwin, perhaps?) to found Bellaire in 1908. I’m curious about that green triangle that sits on the south side of what’s today University Blvd. Was that part of the original Institute’s property and sold off at some point?

  4. mjthannisch says:

    Seems like there used to be a Westmoreland Dairy? Does my memory serve me? I also note some land owned by J.S. Rice and Associates. Could that be part of the original Rice Food Market?

  5. nburch2 says:

    There was a Westmoreland Dairy, which existed at least into the 1970s. It was located on South Rice and offered home delivery.

    • jonc says:

      You are correct, Westmoreland Dairy was on S. Rice. I worked there the summer after I graduated high school in 1975. I believe it closed in the late 70’s.

      • Joseph Martin says:

        What was the cross street of the dairy?I’m a grandson of the owners and all of the people are done. I remember as a child having the milk and juice come to the door before they were bought out by elsie the cow.

  6. E. Frizzell says:

    So, the photo should be labelled “The Intersection of Reynolds Ave. Rd. (later named Kirby Dr.) and Bellaire Blvd., 1912”? Is this correct?

  7. mjthannisch says:

    Thank you nburch, good to know my memory is still with me.

  8. Lauren says:

    Yep, no evidence of a “Westmoreland Blvd.” in any directories of that era..

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  11. LaQuencis Gibbs Scott says:

    A.C. Reynolds was my g-g-g grandfather. I am certain that Reynolds Dr. was named for him. Reynolds had the original Mexican Land Grant to all of River Oaks, West University and Greenway Plaza. However he sold the land in 1835 and moved to Washington County with his family. The Allen Brothers were developing the part of Houston which we now know as downtown Houston. That was originally the John Austin Mexican Land Grant. The Allen Brothers only bought part of that Grant from John Austins widow. Too bad that Kirby Drive changed the name. As far as I know there is nothing in all of Houston that is named for my Ancestor. Bayou Bend, (Ima Hoggs Home, which is part of the Museum of Fine Arts is on the A.C. Reynolds Survey)

  12. Bill Bremer says:

    The line of trees in this photo has me stumped. In the time of this photo, this part of Houston was mostly treeless prairie except along bayous If the camera is facing southeast, the trees follow Brays Bayou. If the camera is facing northwest, the trees are in the middle of today’s West University Place. Does anyone know if there was ever a significant bayou in that portion of today’s West U? To me, the photo’s caption is somewhat ambiguous concerning direction.

  13. Gene Lacy says:

    Interesting photo indeed. The water is flowing left to right so the camera is most likely pointed north. The trees do match a southerly proximity to Brays Bayou but another tree line far down the road ((Reynolds Avenue (Buffalo Speedway?)) would not have existed. The inconclusions go on!

    • bremerbill says:

      It is also possible that the print has been reversed. Speaking of road naming, the road running through SW Houston known today as Bissonnet was named “County Poor Farm Road” and alternatively, Richmond Road. The stretch between Montrose Blvd and Edloe was renamed Bissonnet to honor a local WW1 soldier while the stretch west of Edloe (generally) remained Richmond Road until the early 1960’s when the entire stretch became Bissonnet.

      • Gene Lacy says:

        I considered reversal but the lettering on the sign behind the child is correct. Great input. Do you think I may be correct in that Reynolds appears to be more in the location of Buffalo Speedway?

        • bremerbill says:

          The lettering on the sign kills my reversal theory. After reviewing the 1915 USGS topo map, I now believe this photo shows Reynolds Avenue extending north from Bellaire Blvd. The trees in the distance are along Harris Bayou which, according to the map, began just West of Reynolds. The map even shows a large green area just west of Reynolds that I assume represents the trees we see. The photographer is on the SE corner of the intersection looking slightly west of due north.

        • Gene Lacy says:

          You have resolved beyond a doubt. I found the 1915 topo with the tree line shaded in exactly as the picture indicates. Also noted Reynolds did not extend to the south. Hey, it’s been great researching with you. Thanks!

        • bremerbill says:

          It would be interesting to retrace the path of Harris Bayou through the residential areas that now sit there to look for any pre-1920 oaks that might survive in someone’s yard. I did this once in the Southdale Addition in Bellaire and found at least two candidates for pre-20th century trees.

        • Gene Lacy says:

          I remember those southdale trees well. I spent my youthful (1950’s) years at 4341 Oleander just three or four blocks north of them. As a peewinker from my backyard swing I wondered what the world was like southward beyond those big tall trees. Thanks for the memories Mr. Bill.

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