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Paseo Park in Bellaire, TX: History and Beauty on Display

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

The “Toonerville Trolley” in Paseo Park

The “Toonerville Trolley” in Paseo Park

Bellaire Boulevard Park

Paseo Park in Bellaire, Texas, is located on an esplanade in the middle of busy Bellaire Boulevard between the blocks of 4800 to 5000. The zip code is 77401. Homes and businesses front either side of this expansive 6.5-acre park. We chose a public parking area in one of the business lots to park our car and then explored this unique park on foot in early February of 2018.

Tiny Murals

Mini Murals are popping up all across the Houston Metro Area. Artists are commissioned to decorate utility boxes that would otherwise appear drab and merely utilitarian. The one pictured below is at one end of the Paseo Park with another one on the opposite side at Bellaire and First Street.

The colors on these mini murals seem to pop even more because of our recent freezing weather affecting grass and plants in our area.

Bellaire Streetcar Line

At one time, there was a streetcar line that connected Bellaire to Houston’s Main Street. There are plaques installed as well as a Texas Historical Commission sign detailing information regarding the Bellaire Streetcar Line.

This streetcar pictured here is similar to the original one. It was purchased in Portugal and put on permanent display in 1985.

The Texas Historical Commission sign installed in 1993 shows the following:

Bellaire Streetcar Line

In 1909 the Westmoreland Railroad Company, directed by Bellaire developer William Wright Baldwin, began construction of a streetcar line between this site and Houston’s Main Street (4 MI.E) to improve transportation between Bellaire and Houston. Laid out on the esplanade of Bellaire Boulevard, the streetcar line consisted of one railway track and overhead electric wire. The line terminated at this site, where the company constructed a waiting pavilion and a turnaround loop. At the same time, the Houston Electric Company extended its south end line from Eagle Avenue down present Fannin Street to connect with the Bellaire line at Bellaire Boulevard (now a part of Holcombe Boulevard). The trip between Bellaire and downtown Houston required one transfer at Eagle Avenue. Service began on December 28, 1910.

The streetcar line, often called the “Toonerville Trolley,” became an integral link between Bellaire and Houston and played a vital role in the development of this area. The availability of motor transport and frequent derailments caused by worn-out track led to the abandonment of the line on September 26, 1927. Motor bus service began the following day.

Ending of Texas Revolution

The Texas Historical Commission sign installed in Paseo Park in the year 1989 reads as follows:

Texan Capture of Mexican Dispatches

The San Jacinto Campaign in Southwest Harris County

After the fall of the Alamo on March 6, 1836, Gen. Sam Houston led the Texan army in retreat from Gonzales. The Mexican army under Gen. Santa Anna followed eastward from San Antonio. On April 14, while Houston’s army was north of him, Santa Anna led a division of his army from the Brazos River near present Richmond to Harrisburg. He crossed present southwest Harris County, then an uninhabited prairie, and reached Harrisburg (12 miles east of this site) on April 15. The Mexicans burned Harrisburg on April 17 and continued marching east.

Houston’s army, arriving at Buffalo Bayou opposite Harrisburg on April 18, found the town in ruins, but did not know the whereabouts of the Mexican army. That day, Texan scouts led by Erastus “Deaf” Smith captured three Mexicans, including Capt. Miguel Bachiller, a courier, and a guide in this vicinity. The prisoners and their dispatches revealed the location, size, and plans of the Mexican army. With this vital intelligence, Houston intercepted Santa Anna’s march on April 20 and defeated his division with a surprise attack on April 21 at the San Jacinto River. The Battle of San Jacinto ended the Texas Revolution and secured the independent Republic of Texas.

Clock in Paseo Park

This lovely clock was donated to the City of Bellaire by the Bellaire/Southwest Houston Rotary Club 2011–2012. Inscribed near the bottom of the timepiece is this: It is always time for “Service Above Self.”

Bellaire Paseo Park Clock

Bellaire Paseo Park Clock

Monument Honoring Bellaire Residents Who Defended Our Country

The monolithic sculpture in Paseo Park has the following inscription:

Bellaire

To honor all of the patriots who have fought in defending our country during the first 200 years of its existence, and in honor and fond memory of those residents of the Bellaire community who made the supreme sacrifice.

Erected by Bellaire Bicentennial Commission and the Citizens of Bellaire. 1976

Paseo Park Memorial

Paseo Park Memorial

Open The Door Art Sculptures

About midway in Paseo Park are five pieces of public art from the Open The Door public art project. We first noticed some of these artfully painted door sculptures at the site of a vast mural titled Preservons la Creation in Houston. The doors were on temporary display at that site. We have spotted others in Oyster Creek Park in Sugar Land as well as near the Vietnam War Memorial on Bellaire Boulevard in Houston.

The City of Bellaire acquired these five doors out of the 60 created to display them in this park. Both sides of each entry were painted sometimes by one artist and often by two different artists.

Five artists from Houston had a hand in creating one side of a door. They are the following: Linh Tran Do, Michael Martin, Quentin Pace, Daniel Anguilu, and Karla Morales.

Paris, France, is the home of these artists who created one or in two cases shown below both sides of an art door. They are the following: Romain Froquet, Stephane Carricondo, Sylvie Delusseau, and Anne Maizia.

History of Bellaire on Plaques

People can read about the history of this area on plaques installed by the Bellaire Arts Commission. One of the plates reads as follows:

Alfred J. Condit House, damaged in 1915 hurricane. The home of Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Condit still stands on the northwest corner of Bellaire Blvd. and First Street. During the hurricane, this house lost its roof and second floor, and the city lost a third of its buildings. After the hurricane, everyone gathered at Condit School with food to share.

Bellaire Presbyterian Church

Another plaque relates to the first Bellaire Mission Presbyterian Church. The photo above shows the church as it appears today. A Texas Historical Commission sign erected in 1994 reads as follows:

Bellaire Presbyterian Church

Bellaire residents founded the non-denominational Bellaire Union Congregational Church and Sunday School in 1911. Services and classes were held in the local school building and the town’s streetcar terminal, known as the “pavilion.”

In 1919 many members of Bellaire Union and others petitioned the First Presbyterian Church of Houston to establish a presence in the community. The Bellaire Mission was established on April 5, 1919, with the Rev. R.L. Jetton as pastor. Later that year the first church building was erected on land donated by D.T. Austin.

The Rev. Robert H. Bullock became the Mission’s first full-time pastor in 1940, and in 1942 a new brick sanctuary was dedicated. The Mission became self-supporting in 1943 when the congregation became known as the “Bellaire Presbyterian Church.”

During the mid-1950s Bellaire Presbyterian helped establish several churches in the area. Membership in the congregation multiplied, and in 1957 a new 1000-seat sanctuary was constructed at this site. The group reached 1,794 members by 1963.

Bellaire Presbyterian has played an essential role in the history of Bellaire and represents the oldest continuing congregation in the community.

Metro Bellaire Transit Center

This transit center, which is situated just to the west of Paseo Park, seems an appropriate setting since the first trolley and rail line from Bellaire to Houston originated nearby.

By now, you should be able to see why when titling this post, I mentioned history plus beauty when describing Paseo Park. It will be even more beautiful at other times of the year when the crape myrtle trees are in bloom, and the vast expanse of grass resumes its normal green coloration. History is still occurring in Bellaire. It is interesting looking back at some of its past.

Sources:

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

Comments

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 07, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

Beautiful that you have those memories. The only streetcars that I have ever ridden on are the ones in San Francisco.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2020:

Hi Ruby,

Texas was once a nation-state and fought Mexico over territory. It has a lot of history!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 06, 2020:

I remember riding on a streetcar with my mThis iery small girl mother when I was a very small girl. The murals are beautifully painted. The clock and the sculptures are all unique and beautiful.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 06, 2020:

Paseo Park has a history. It must of been a terrible time when they fought Mexico. The murals are very beautiful. Thanks again for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2020:

Hi Liz,

It is a unique park in that the entire park is on a wide boulevard and runs for many blocks in length. Thanks for taking a look and leaving a comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

The utility boxes in just about all parts of our city are now artfully painted. When I first started seeing them, I thought about writing a post about that, but now, they are everywhere. As mentioned previously, our Houston metro area does support the arts! Go for it! I hope if you paint your utility box, you show us the results of your efforts. You may start a movement where you live!

Liz Westwood from UK on April 06, 2020:

You have done a very thorough job pointing out all the interesting features in this area.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 06, 2020:

Those jazzed up utility boxes are out of this world! I have a plain one in my yard and now you have me absolutely jealous about how it could look. If I’m stuck in this house too much longer with the pandemic I may go all full on art crazy and paint it myself, you never know!