A Bit Of Cherrywood History In Austin Texas

The area we call Cherrywood originated as various neighborhoods in the 1930s and 40s when farm and dairy land was subdivided on the outskirts of the growing city of Austin, Texas. Taking its name from one of the major through streets, Cherrywood neighborhood includes the communities of French Place, Concordia, Avalon, Upland, University Park, Delwood, Schieffer, Giles Place and others. These communities merged in the 1980s to form the Cherrywood Neighborhood Association, an active group which includes over 1,500 residences. Bounded by Interstate 35 (I-35; formerly East Avenue), Manor Road and Airport Boulevard, Cherrywood is a flourishing central-city neighborhood of homes, businesses, and green spaces. Local residents form a gumbo of society college students, longtime residents, professionals, young families with children and a mix of many ethnic origins. Early owners, like Doris and J.H. French, Bascom and Rogan Giles, Walter Schieffer, Nye Patterson and others, are remembered in the names of streets and parks.

If trees could talk, the old oaks and elms which shade the neighborhood would have some tales to tell. In the 1930s, what is now Cherrywood Road ended at 38-1/2 Street and was known as a lovers lane. The big oak at the intersection has seen a lot of people pass under its canopy.
The original French Place area, which is the more familiar name for this area, was bounded by East Avenue, Edgewood, Manor Road and Lafayette and was built in the 1930s. Developed by the J. H. French family, it consisted of quaint, two-bedroom homes with porches and unique architectural details. A large part of the French Place neighborhood and Hillcrest Baptist Church were destroyed when the East 26th Street underpass and interchange for I-35 was constructed. In the days before I-35 was built, East Avenue was a broad finely landscaped boulevard with gardens, flowers and fountains. Acropolises and lovers lookouts were constructed with Austin white limestone. The boulevard had well-maintained broad lawns, huge flowerbeds with sculpted trees and shrubs. East Avenue was a beautiful downhill entrance into downtown Austin.

The Giles brothers developed what we know as the Giles Addition and Delwood I and II neighborhoods. Many homes in this area are constructed from volcanic ash blocks and stucco, a cost-effective building method that was marketed to servicemen returning from World War II. In 1951 the Giles family opened the Delwood Shopping Center, the first commercial center of its kind in Texas. The red neon sign for the center still stands on 38-1/2 Street just east of I-35. A lovely Victorian house built in 1870 by the Wright family and later owned by the Giles family for 50 years still stands next to St. Georges Episcopal Church in the Wilshirewood/Delwood I neighborhood north of Cherrywood, and is one of the oldest homes in the area.

The end of World War II also spurred development of the Schieffer subdivision out of the Schieffer cattle and dairy ranch. A farmhouse stood atop a little hill at Brookview and Vineland and the barn for all the dairy cattle was near where 40th Street meets Boggy Creek.

Maplewood Elementary School was built in 1951 on pastureland and now serves the growing population of families in the area. The original school building housed five classrooms and a lunchroom, which doubled as a classroom. Now the school doubles as an informal community center and serves as Cherrywoods voting location for Precinct 152.

Cherrywood was a longtime neighbor of Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, which began passenger service in 1930. As the airfield grew, it took over land that had been cotton farms. In the spring of 1940, the airport was expanded into orchards owned by Nye Patterson. On the day the bulldozers arrived to level 2,000 blooming peach and plum trees, Patterson was reported to have watched with tears in his eyes as his trees were destroyed. Patterson died soon after and a portion of his orchard became Patterson Park at the north end of Cherrywood. Mueller Airport was closed in the summer of 1999 when the city moved commercial airline operations to the newly created Austin Bergstrom International Airport, which was built at a former Air Force base.

With homes from the 1930s to the 1960s, the Cherrywood neighborhood is a vigorous and exciting neighborhood for young families, retirees, first time buyers or just those who want to live close to downtown Austin. With its diverse population and proximity to downtown, it fits the needs of most any prospective home buyer.

The author has lived and worked in East Austin and the Cherrywood neighborhood for most of her life. She is an active real estate in Austin.