Margaret Parker, one of Memorial Bend's original residents, published a column from 1992 to 1997 titled "Remember When?". The column provided both new and long-time residents quarterly tidbits on the history of Memorial Bend. Thanks to the assistance of Margaret and Bob Parker, we've been able to provide select copies of those columns on this page.
Further down this page, you'll also find contributions from visitors to the site. These provide some additional history on the area...
Construction of the Sam Houston Toll Road began Memorial Day weekend, 1986. On Saturday morning, residents were startled to hear the sound of bulldozers on the old West Belt right-of-way. In a few short hours, untold years of growth of trees and shrubbery was destroyed in the first phase of freeway construction.
Prior to the early 1960s, access to this "far west" section of Houston was by way of the old 2 lane Katy Highway which has been widened to the I-10 Freeway as we know it. Dirt for the buildup of the freeway was taken from a "borrow pit" on the south side of Katy in the Bingle/Wirt area. In those days, the nearest grocery store was the old Lewis & Coker at Bunker Hill and Katy.
Prior to 1981, area children attended Bendwood Elementary School. A school bus was available, but in earlier and safer years most children walked home from school, cutting across the vacant property now occupied by some of the Town & Country stores. In the Fall of 1981 the school was closed because of low enrollment of 232 students, and the children were redirected to Rummel Creek Elementary.
Pat Gregory remembers when she moved into 459 Faust in 1955. Only 2 Memorial Bend houses were built. The other was 443 Faust. They preferred the corner house and she has hated edging ever since. The closest market was Ledbetters, near Voss and Campbell, and Town and Country village was a horse pasture. The horses would wander over to mince on tender new lawns, leaving deep hoof prints (precursor of trenching).
The Houston Audubon Bird Sanctuary was in years past a large untamed wooded tract owned by Mrs. Edith L. Mooer, who lived alone in the log cabin in the woods. The tract boundaries originally extended somewhere north of Memorial Drive and somewhere south of Buffalo Bayou, most likely including the property now occupied by Memorial Bend. Tracts were gradually disposed of, and in 1958 Mrs. Moore transferred 5 acres to the Memorial Drive Methodist Church for the new church they were planning. Following her death in 1975, the balance of nearly 18 acres was left to the Audubon Society with the stipulation that the property would always remain a bird sanctuary. This is, and always will be, a delightful refuge for nearby residents, our access being by way of the gate at the Hansel Street dead-end during daylight hours.
Remember when... Lantern Lane wasn't there?
When Lantern Lane Shopping Center was first in the planning stages in the late 1950s, there was much opposition to the center, as area residents wanted to keep Memorial Drive commercial-free. Memorial Bend Shopping Park had already been established by the Memorial Bend developer and was located a considerable distance off the street, making it acceptable to area residents. Tenants were a 7-Eleven convenience store, a barber shop, and the original Interurban Pharmacy, complete with counter and delivery service. After all attempts to prevent the development of Lantern Lane exhausted, the center was finished and occupied in the early 1960s by the new Interurban Pharmacy, Lewis & Coker grocery, Wagner's Hardware, Rodney's Men's Store, Dutch Kettle, and a number of offices located down a mall-type hallway about where Marble Slab is now located. Memorial Bank was later added on the corner where Hunan's is now located.
Will we soon be saying "remember when" about the Town & Country Shopping Center as we know it? Amid all the speculation about what's happening, it seems appropriate to review some of the Town & Country history. Several years before the 1984 opening of the mall, the Town & Country Center began to form around the old Bendwood Elementary School and Pines Presbyterian Church. Early arrivals were Joske's (now Dillard's), Continental Grocery, Walgreen's, Demeris Barbeque, James Coney Island, Texaco, Sweeney's, Village Cobbler and Times Square Barber. Adjacent to Joske's was the beautiful "Mall of Fountains" which remained until Mall construction began. In the later 1960s, a Farmer's Market was opened where the Post Office is now situated. In it were numerous mall food shops, plus the original Country Playhouse and an ice skating rink where the old Houston Aeros Hockey Team practiced. The market was torn down to make way for construction of the Mall and Post Office. The spectacular Sakowitz store was opened in 1968 and closed in 1990 (you 2nd generation folks will remember the hours you spent in "The Chattery".) Sleepy Hollow was originally the "Pillow Parlor", with pillows of every description exhibited floor to ceiling. Another old favorite was Panjo's Pizza Parlor, complete with live organ music, located where the University Medical Group Clinic is now.
Soon after the Memorial Bend Civic Association was established in 1958, it was decided that the subdivision was badly in need of mosquito fogging. After looking into the cost of entering into a commercial contract for this job, the MBCA officers decided that they could do it more efficiently, and at that time Memorial Bend went into the mosquite fogging business. They spent $1,100 for a fogging machine, $750 for a used truck and enlisted the services of Frank Dallas, who ran the Gulf Station at Memorial and West Belt, to operate the equipment. They signed up seven neighboring subdivisions at a cost of $2.00 per house and realized a profit of $4,000 to $6,000 per month. $11,000 of those profits were subsequently spent to build the brick serpentine wall along Boheme between the pool and the corner service station. What a group of young entrepreneurs they were!
Ever wonder how and when the Memorial Bend pool was built? The property along Boheme between West Belt and Memorial was originally owned by the developer, Robert Puig. Mr. Puig had an agreement with Texaco to sell them to corner of Memorial and Boheme for what was to become the first commercial establishment on Memorial Drive. $90,000 changed hands, Mr. Puig deeded the property to the Memorial Bend Club, and in 1959 the Olympic sized pool and bath house were built with that money.
In 1981 the original bath house burned and the present replacement was built in 1982. The tennis courts were contracted in the early 1970s, resurfaced in 1982 and have been well used, summer and winter.
Over the years Memorial Bend Club has been the hub of much of the social life of Memorial Bend, with at least three summer holidays celebrated with a party. Our children have learned to swim from volunteer resident Red Cross Instructors, then competed in swim meets with neighboring subdivisions.
The property is owned by the members of the Club.
Do you remember these Memorial Bend TV personalities from past years, as well as today...
Until 1969 the old West Beld Drive ended just north of Buffalo Bayou. The first stage of the present Tollroad was the construction of a bridge across the bayou, which disturbed much of the wildlife from their wooded habitat. Many animals were hit by cars during those first few years - mostly raccoons, skunks, rabbits, armadillos and even a fox or two. Before the bridge was built, the route to Westheimer was either West on Memorial to Highway 1960 or East on Memorial to Fondren Road, winding around as we still do (on Piney Point) towards Vargo's. At the sharp curve just before Vargo's was a rather large estate with protected deer roaming freely.
Some of the homes in Memorial Bend are from the "Contemporary Era" of the 1950s and 1960s and homes of this style are seldom built any longer. Several owners of contemporary homes in the Bend at that time were well known Houston architects William Caudill, Charles (Tiny) Lawrence, Earl Alexander and Wally Scott, all of whom have moved elsewhere by now. The Caudill home, now owned by Tom and Carol Boberg, was featured in the Houston Architectural Guide published in 1990.
Prominent contractors Al Fairfield, William N. Floyd, Dick Hurley and Doyle Stuckey built a number of these homes, especially on Electra, Gretel, Figaro and Traviata. Tom and Fran (Hurley) Thomas and the Charles Headricks live in their original homes on Gretel built by Dick Hurley. CRSS architect Darrel and Kelley Smith live in the William Floyd home on Electra originally built for Betty and Don Auty. Many others, too numerous to mention, are still enjoying our contemporary homes, now 34 to 40 years old.
Lot 26, Block 1, Section 4 of Memorial Bend was originally an oversized lot on the corner of Faust Lane and West Belt, with the back of the property line extending to the original routing of Buffalo Bayou. By the 1960s, the Harris County Flood Control and Corps of Engineers had rectified the bayou in an effort to improve draining and flood control. The result of this rerouting procedure was that another tract of land formerly on the south side of the bayou now fell on the north side of the bayou forming a 4 acre tract adjoining Memorial Bend subdivision (Lot 26). A 1 acre parcel formerly part of the Lot 26 has been sold and adjoins the 4 acres. Our Civic Association Executive Board has rejected to allow the 1 acre Memorial Bend parcel to be used as commercial property. Just another very good reason for maintaining an active civic association. Thank you, Board Members! NEXT, the 4 acre tract.
Soon after the old West Belt Road was extended to Westheimer, the 4 acre tract on the East side of the road between Memorial Bend and Buffalo Bayou held a convenience store; then we had the big white colonial house that was moved in, reportedly to become an upscale restaurant. This too, was abandoned nad soon we heard rumors of a 3-story apartment building, a ten story office building, etc. etc. The property remained vacant until construction of the Toll Road began, an at that time the Highway Department put the property to use as a storage yard and construction office for the duration of the road construction. Now we see renewed activity with suggestions of storage buildings, an apartment house, restaurant, patio homes... A prospective buyer wanted to include the 1 acre parcel out of Lot 26, Block 1, Section 4 Memorial Bend, with the 4 acres available as commercial property, in order to have a more useable tract. As previously noted, our Civic Association has rejected this request, much to our advantage, and time will tell the final story of the available 4 acre tract and the 1 acre Memorial Bend parcel.
Town & Country - one more time! - We are so proud of our long-time merchants who were able to hold on through the Center's good and bad times. Demeris Barbeque has remained in the same location since opening in 1968 -- even down to the original furniture and decor! James Coney Island and Sweeney's are also both original to the Center and have chosen to rebuild with fine new upscale buildings. Many other old times have updated and remained and we welcome the many newcomers. Best of luck to the lovely new Town & Country Village.
Dave in Houston (December 2004)
I grew up in the neighborhood a few miles away and love this area. The website has a few things wrong. The "Remember When" article has the grocery store in Town and Country named Continental Finer Foods when in fact it was named Minimax. I bought my first Vietnam war bracelet in the parking lot from a girl in the parking lot. Did you know that there was a Windmill Dinner Theater where movie stars and actors of all walks came to act at the Windmill. Also there was a drive in church service held in the parking lot of the "Mall of Fountains"