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Murals, Parks & Outdoor

Amazing Baldwin Park with 100 Year Old Oak Trees

Posted: April 10, 2016 at 11:18 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

One of the earliest parks in Houston dating back to the turn of the last century is named Elizabeth Baldwin Park.

Elizabeth Baldwin Park Sign

One day while surfing the net I discovered the existence of one of the oldest fountains in Houston. That was what first made my husband and my wish to explore that park location.

The information about the “Charlotte M. Allen Fountain” neglected to mention that it is no longer in working condition. Remnants of that fountain are there but are overshadowed by what else the park has to offer. The incredible trees would send any tree lover into ecstasy!

These 100+-year-old trees have weathered many a storm but stand in testament to their resilience and hardiness.

Some of the branches grow horizontally stretching out and intermingle 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 keeping it from harm.

As a child I was quite the tree climber.  I can well imagine that many of these tree branches have borne generations of like-minded tree climbers over the years.

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 desires if he preceded her in death.

Due to poor health, Elizabeth died before William. A lawsuit ensued. One of the greedy New York lawyers who thought he could get his hands on the tremendous wealth had Mr. Rice killed. After the heinous murder became known, the will of Elizabeth went into effect.

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.

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.”

The 4.88-acre park has a crushed granite quarter-mile walking and jogging trail.

Doggie bag dispensers are on site along with trash cans for those walking their dogs. In addition to the children’s playground are parallel bars and other exercise equipment for adults.

Grills, picnic tables and benches provide plenty of usable spaces for people to utilize.  We saw people quietly reading books and working on their laptops in this beautiful park setting.

An added attraction to visiting Baldwin Park is the colorful building just across the street on one side of the park. It is hard to miss!

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 mural 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 of unique designs on what otherwise would be a rather drab looking brick building.  It certainly livens up the area!

On another side of Baldwin Park is a small parking lot in front of townhouses which 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 more unsavory types of people such as drug dealers.  But with the transformation of what 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.  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 similar to 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.