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Memorial Villages

By Thomas Roth

In the early 1950s, a group of citizens living on the West side of Houston concerned about the lack of zoning gathered to incorporate their own cities.

The Memorial Villages derived from land grants given to John Taylor and Isaac Bunker for their service during the Texas War of Independence from Mexico. Over the years, they sold parts of their land to various owners. Many of the early settlers were from Germany; some of the streets are named after them. They were farmers and some raised livestock. Since the area was heavily wooded, there were also sawmills and lumberyards in the area.

Arnold Louis Hillendahl worked on his family farm in Spring Branch.

Memorial Drive was a narrow road that followed the borders of the farms that lined the road. Highway 90, also known as Katy Road, was there before Interstate 10. Piney Point Road had been put in around the 1900 to 1905 time frame, first as a dirt road, then oyster shell. There were some small businesses that lined the stretch of where Interstate 10, Campbell and Voss Road currently exist.

Up until the mid to late 30s, many people got around by horseback due to the lack of paved roads. On Echo Lane, across the street from the present location of Memorial High School, there was a chicken farm where the owner sold eggs. People would ride their horses on Piney Point Road to Taylorcrest and over to where Memorial City Mall is now located and stop to pick berries.  Rumor has it that there was an illegal still on part of the site where the mall now stands. When the original people who founded the villages met in the early 50s, the main roads that provide the current boundaries of the Villages already existed.

W.G. “Pistol” Vogt and children enjoyed a wagon ride on Vogt’s family farm. Before the city of Houston grew westward and the area became urbanized, Spring Branch was primarily farmland.


W.G. “Pistol” Vogt and children enjoyed a wagon ride on Vogt’s family farm. Before the city of Houston grew westward and the area became urbanized, Spring Branch was primarily farmland.

The Spring Branch School District began in 1856 with the Spring Branch School Society sponsored by St. Peter’s Church. In 1900, there were 50 students in the white school and twenty students in the local black school. In the early 1900s, there was a school house at the corner of Campbell and Long Point. Until the 1948/49 school year, Spring Branch School District had only nine grades requiring the students to transfer to Addicks, Lamar or Cypress Fairbanks, where they had the nickname of “the country kids from Voss Road.” In early 1952/53, the high school was opened until it closed in 1985. The school district had 440 students in 1942 and 14,000 by 1960.  Memorial High School was opened in the early 1960s to relieve overcrowding at the Spring Branch High School.

Students posed in front of a Spring Branch school bus.

Over the years, the area continued to grow. When Voss Road was paved with asphalt, many in the area wondered, “Why did they make this nice street in the middle of nowhere?” One of the early residents who moved from the Heights to Hedwig Village told her former neighbors that she could see cows and bulls grazing on the land that is now in the area of Beinhorn and Hedwig Road. In the early 1950s, Prudential Insurance relocated from New Jersey to Houston. Some of the transfers settled in the Memorial Villages, and the area kept its growth due to the influence of the energy industry in Houston.

Over the years, the Villages have kept their appeal of living in a small city with its own school district, police, fire and other city services, surrounded by a major city. Next time you or your family are out on one of the many hike and bike trails in the shade of the many trees, and you see a senior citizen, be sure and thank them for their help in making the Memorial Villages the most desired spot to live in Houston.

 

*See full history article below


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