In early 2003, a small group of us from Brentwood and Crestview created the Violet Crown Festival and nonprofit Violet Crown Community Works to help with the fund raising. My husband, Rob, and I volunteered at the festival (2003-2010), and I served on the VCCW board (2003-2007). Like many other neighbors, we made a tile for the mosaic wall representing where we live (right), and Rob made one for Little Deli, a popular local restaurant. (See it here, at the bottom of the page.)
Voices of the Violet Crown is an independent project, not affiliated with any organization or group. Since 2003, the history and community exhibits we’ve created have been featured at the Violet Crown Festival and other community events in Austin. The exhibits, one element of our project, were described by a corporate sponsor of the festival as “the centerpiece of the event.” (More about VVC here.)
Those of us who founded Violet Crown Community Works were inspired by the people and beginnings of Brentwood and Crestview—reflected in the nonprofit’s bylaws:
Through its projects, VCCW seeks to build and support a strong sense of community and history among neighborhood residents.
Just as Voices of the Violet Crown exhibits include history and neighborhood news and resources, our website includes all of that, too, reflecting our belief that community is a continuum of past, present, and future.
And, just as neighbors have enhanced where we live by working together on the mosaic wall, tree plantings, and many other projects over the years, our website’s stories and images reflect our belief that being a good neighbor is a creative process.
One inspiration for Voices of the Violet Crown is visionary writer, farmer, and activist Wendell Berry. We agree with him that memory and sense of place matter to a community. The title of this blog post, “History Overflows Time,” comes from his book Jayber Crow: A Novel. More about Berry here, toward the bottom of the page.
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
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.)
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.
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.
75 YEARS AGO • By 1939, the Brentwood neighborhood had been developed from West 45th Street all the way up to Koenig Lane. (Today its northern boundary is Justin 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, from Justin Lane to Anderson Lane, on land that had been Frank Richcreek’s dairy farm.
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!
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.
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, part of a beautification project at the school 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).
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.