I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).
My Discovery of Elizabeth Baldwin Park
One of the earliest parks in Houston, dating back to the turn of the last century, is named Elizabeth Baldwin Park. One day while surfing the net, I discovered that this park was the location of one of the oldest fountains in Houston, which was what first made my husband and me wish to explore there.
The information about the "Charlotte M. Allen Fountain" neglected to mention that it is no longer in working condition. Remnants of it are there, but they are overshadowed by what else the park has to offer. The incredible trees would send any tree lover into ecstasy!
Amazing Trees in Elizabeth Baldwin Park!
At more than 100 years old, these trees have weathered many a storm, but they stand in testament to their resilience and hardiness. Some of the branches grow horizontally, stretching out and intermingling with the nearby tree branches. They form a canopy of thick, dense shade in some areas of the park.
Other branches have served to bolster the trees against hurricanes and other storms. They run along the ground around the trunks of the trees, supporting them like an impenetrable fortress surrounding a city and keeping it from harm.
As a child, I was quite the tree climber. I can well imagine that many of these branches have borne generations of like-minded tree climbers over the years.
The 4.88-acre park has a quarter-mile crushed-granite walking and jogging trail.
Doggie-bag dispensers with trash cans are on site for those walking their dogs. In addition to the children's playground, there are parallel bars and other exercise equipment for adults.
Grills, picnic tables, and benches provide plenty of usable spaces for people to congregate. We saw people quietly reading books and working on their laptops in this beautiful park setting.
Origins of This Park
The history of the park is fascinating. Mrs. Elizabeth Baldwin Rice became the widow of the brother of William Marsh Rice. She then married William Marsh Rice, who was a widower.
According to historical records, Elizabeth changed her will in Texas, unknown to him. In it, she claimed Texas as their primary residence. Most of the year, however, they lived in New York. Texas is a community property state, meaning that half of William Rice's wealth would be hers to spend as she desired if he preceded her in death.
Due to poor health, Elizabeth died before William. A lawsuit ensued. A greedy New York lawyer who thought he could get his hands on the family's tremendous wealth had Mr. Rice killed. After the heinous murder became known, the will of Elizabeth went into effect.
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Most of William Marsh Rice's wealth was left intact, which is what ultimately helped to fund Rice Institute, which later became Rice University here in Houston. Part of her estate went to purchase the land, which now bears her name.
Her executor paid $9,250 for the land on May 9, 1905, according to records, and in 1910 it was sold to the City of Houston for $10. She would have liked that!
In 1912, the fountain was finished and was named after the wife of Augustus C. Allen, one of the two Allen brothers who founded Houston.
Vietnamese Heritage Plaza
The Vietnamese community in Houston donated $100,000 to create the Vietnamese Heritage Plaza in Baldwin Park. It was a part of a larger renovation project for the park, which took place in 2006.
The tile work under the plaza is pretty, and all around the pavilion carved into concrete are friendly greetings in various languages. One of them reads as follows: "Hundred thousand welcomes and good health to all."
Graffiti Art Across From the Park
There is an auto-parts store at 3000 Crawford Street in Houston, where graffiti art is on display. The day we were there, we saw several people using the murals as a backdrop for photographs.
A well-known (now deceased) graffiti artist by the name of Nekst was one of the muralists who did work there.
Whether one is a fan of graffiti art or not, it is hard to ignore such colorful portrayals and unique designs on what otherwise would be a rather drab-looking brick building. It certainly livens up the area!
Living Near and Enjoying Elizabeth Baldwin Park
On another side of Baldwin Park is a small parking lot in front of townhouses that face the park. What a lovely view the residents of those modern townhouses have to look out at every day.
From the dedication of Baldwin Park in 1912 (the same year that Rice Institute doors opened for the first time) to today, this park has served countless generations of people.
At one time in the past, it had become a haven for drug dealers. But with the transformation that is taking place in Midtown and nearby areas of Houston, this park is an absolute jewel!
My hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed the portion of the day we spent there, and what I would give to have a park-like that in our backyard!
The feeling of walking under those long-lived oak trees is indescribable. To me, it is akin to feelings of being in a cathedral, but even better. Mother Nature presents all her splendor and glory in this Houston city park!
Location of this lovely park: 1701 Elgin Street, Houston, Texas 77004.
- From the Houston Chronicle: History of the Houston Founding Family and Elizabeth Baldwin Park
- Official Houston Tx. Gov. Parks Site: Charlotte Allen Fountain
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Peggy Woods