We were inspired to create Voices of the Violet Crown as we worked alongside neighbors to raise funds for a mosaic wall in Austin, Texas. VVC aims to foster understanding and participation, beginning right where we live, by showing how history and community are interwoven. We created VVC independently and are grateful for all our partners throughout the project.
Our neighborhood history exhibit, one element of VVC, was featured at the 60th anniversary of Crestview United Methodist Church in 2013, mosaic Wall of Welcome dedication in 2008, and Violet Crown Festival from 2003 to 2010. A festival corporate sponsor called the exhibit “the centerpiece of the event.” Our oral history interviews have included neighbors ages 6 through 90.
In 2003, a small group of us in Brentwood and Crestview created the Violet Crown Festival and the nonprofit Violet Crown Community Works to support neighborhood enhancement projects, including the Wall of Welcome. Rob and I were festival volunteers until 2010, and I served on the VCCW board until 2007. Like many other neighbors, we made a mosaic for the wall depicting where we live (right), and Rob created one for Little Deli, a popular restaurant near the Wall of Welcome along Woodrow Avenue in Austin.
Another inspiration for Voices of the Violet Crown is visionary writer, farmer, and activist Wendell Berry. We feature his words in the right sidebar and in the title of this blog post, from his novel Jayber Crow.
And, we continue to be inspired by our neighbors, through their words—and all the ways they make a difference, right where we live.
A community is the heart and soul of a city.
—Hedrich Michaelsen, Crestview
The most important thing about being a good neighbor is to be aware of the way we feed one another, the way we celebrate with one another, the way we help one another grow—thinking about neighbor as family.
—Wendy LeBlanc-Arbuckle, Brentwood
Somebody before us planted these trees, and it’s up to us to do the same, so there will be trees here for the next generation.
—Emily Wilson, Friends of Brentwood Park
Thanks, as always, for visiting our website! We’ve added some new milestones for 2014, below, many with links to more info.
—Susan & Rob Burneson, Crestview neighbors since 1985
5 YEARS AGO • The Crestview neighborhood successfully met the City of Austin Green Neighbor Challenge to become a Certified Green Neighborhood. You can read our history of Hancock Creek/Arroyo Seco, included in the Challenge documentation, beginning here. • Friends of Brentwood Park, dedicated to keeping the park maintained and to continuing its development as a community resource, was established. • Urban Patchwork Neighborhood Farms, a neighborhood-based, community-run, urban agriculture network, was established in Crestview.
10 YEARS AGO • On March 27, 2004, the Brentwood Elementary School mosaic wall—designed and produced by neighborhood artist Jean Graham with the help of students and teachers—was dedicated in a special ceremony. The mosaic wall, on the west side of the school and part of a beautification project there at the time, includes images of birds and the words of a young Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki, who inspired the project:
I will write peace on your wings, and you will fly all over the world.
Among area businesses included in the Austin Chronicle’s “Best of Austin” awards in 2004 were: Crestview Barber Shop (Best Barber Shop), Dart Bowl (Best Bowling Alley), Lala’s Little Nugget (Best Dancing Elves), and Sunshine Community Garden (Best Community Garden).
50 YEARS AGO • J. D. Harper purchased the Crestview Pharmacy from Art Dunlap in 1964. J. D.’s sons, Jerry and David, run the pharmacy today. • Tom Cockrell opened Cockrell’s Barber Shop (formerly Violet Crown Barber Shop), still in operation in the Violet Crown Shopping Center at North Lamar and Brentwood.
60 YEARS AGO • In February 1954, the Brentwood Recreation Club and Brentwood Elementary School PTA held their annual planting of trees and shrubs on the school grounds and in Brentwood Park. Everyone was invited to:
Bring your garden tools, and let’s make our school and park one of the most beautiful in town!
75 YEARS AGO • By 1939, the Brentwood neighborhood had been developed from West 45th Street all the way up to Koenig Lane. • A. B. Beddow and Ray Yates held their first meeting of the Austin Development Corporation, also in 1939. Eight years later, they began to develop the Crestview neighborhood on land that had been Frank Richcreek’s dairy farm. Today, Brentwood and Crestview are between Lamar Boulevard and Burnet Road, with Crestview from Anderson Lane to Justin Lane (including property on the south side of Justin between Hardy and Reese), and Brentwood from property on the north side of Dwyce Drive down to West 45th Street
100 YEARS AGO • In 1914, Dr. John Preston, Superintendent of the State Asylum (today’s Austin State Hospital), described the undeveloped land north and west of the hospital, where Brentwood and Crestview are today:
On the north . . . stretch rich farming lands that were once illimitable prairies. Westward . . . is a chain of hills which make a purplish background for the intervening fields in various shades of green and gold.
120 YEARS AGO • One of the earliest descriptions of Austin as the City of the Violet Crown appeared in the second chapter of “Tictocq: The Great French Detective,” by the author O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) in 1894:
The drawing-rooms of one of the most magnificent residences in Austin are a blaze of lights. The occasion is the entree into society of one of the fairest buds in the City of the Violet Crown. Austin society is acknowledged to be the wittiest, the most select, and the highest bred to be found southwest of Kansas City.
175 YEARS AGO • Waterloo, on the north bank of the Colorado River, was officially selected as the Republic of Texas’s new capital in 1839. Soon it was renamed Austin, for Stephen F. Austin, who came to Texas from Missouri. (More info here.)