Rob and I were inspired to create and sustain Voices of the Violet Crown as we worked alongside neighbors to raise funds for the mosaic Wall of Welcome in Austin, beginning in 2003. VVC aims to foster understanding and participation, beginning right where we live, by showing how community and history are interwoven.
We are grateful for all our good friends throughout the project. And, we are honored to be recipients of the Mary Faye Barnes Award for Excellence in Community History Projects from the Texas Oral History Association.
Features of Voices of the Violet Crown include:
- Our blog, beginning in 2011 with the post Meet the Starmaker: Bill Williamson of Crestview. Our website also includes features, films, photos, and community resources (right sidebar) and more information about our project (top menu).
- Our community/history exhibits, featured at the Violet Crown Festival, 2003-2010 and 2012; Violet Crown Arts Festival, 2008-2009; Wall of Welcome dedication, 2008; Crestview Neighborhood Association Ice Cream Social, 2009, 2012, 2015, and 2016; and Crestview United Methodist Church 60th anniversary, 2013. A corporate sponsor of the Violet Crown Festival described our exhibits as “the centerpiece of the event”; neighbors called them “the heart of the festival.”
- Our oral histories of neighbors ages 6 through 90. Our website and films include video clips, quotes, stills, and transcripts. We donated copies of interview DVDs, transcripts, and films to the Austin History Center.
In 2003, a group of us in Brentwood and Crestview created the Violet Crown Festival and the nonprofit Violet Crown Community Works to help build and sustain community by supporting neighborhood enhancement projects, beginning with the mosaic Wall of Welcome on Woodrow Avenue in Austin. Rob and I volunteered at the festival for seven years; I served on the VCCW board for four years. (This website reflects my experiences and research and may not represent other neighbors’ or groups’ views.—Susan)
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, “History Overflows Time,” 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 a bit of “new” history of our neighborhood for 2016 and beyond, below, with links, for anyone who’d like to learn more.
—Susan & Rob Burneson, Crestview neighbors since 1985
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES!
January 27 • Friends of Brentwood Park, established in 2009, adds info about the park’s memorial trees and benches to its website.
February 29 • Arlan’s Market opens in the space that housed Crestview Minimax IGA for 63 years in Crestview Shopping Center. Since then, Arlan’s has continued Minimax’s longtime tradition of supporting community events.
March 5 • Spring It’s My Park Day, an Austin Parks Foundation citywide event coordinated in our neighborhood by Friends of Brentwood Park.
March 6 • Celebration for Crestview Minimax IGA and Prellop Family, Crestview Shopping Center.
March 20 • Spring Mingle and Egg Hunt, Brentwood Park, coordinated by the Crestview Neighborhood Association.
April 3 • The TLC program “Who Do You Think You Are?” reveals the connection between actress Aisha Tyler, who is black, and her third-great-grandfather John Hancock, an Austin lawyer, district judge, and state legislator who once owned land that became Brentwood, Crestview, Allandale, and Rosedale and was white.
April 14 • Crestview United Methodist Church holds a healing service for individuals, community, and world, the latest in an ongoing series.
April 30 • Two firsts in 2016 for the Preservation Austin Historic Homes Tour—It features Brentwood, Crestview, and Allandale homes and includes neighborhood history in its tour booklet.
May 7 • Violet Crown Festival, Brentwood Elementary, the 14th spring event since 2003 (13 festivals and the Wall of Welcome dedication, held March 2008, so no spring festival that year) coordinated by Violet Crown Community Works, a local nonprofit that helps build and sustain community in Brentwood and Crestview by supporting neighborhood enhancement projects.
June 18 • Grand Opening, Dia’s Market, 812 Justin Lane. Later in the year, it holds several community events, including a holiday craft workshop for kids on November 26 and market holiday festival on December 10.
June 19 • The McCallum High School Band plays New York’s Carnegie Hall, its sixth appearance there.
July 10 • Longtime annual Crestview Neighborhood Association Ice Cream Social, Crestview Shopping Center. Arlan’s Market provides ice cream and supplies, many other local businesses donate gift cards, and Voices of the Violet Crown displays a neighborhood history.
August 26 • Crestview Neighborhood Association adds local history to its website. Brentwood Neighborhood Association also adds a local history page. • Austin History Center receives a donation of Brentwood, Crestview, and other Central Austin community and history files.
September 5 • Labor Day Parade and Watermelon in the Shade, Brentwood Park, coordinated by the Brentwood Neighborhood Association.
October 4 • National Night Out, an annual tradition for more than three decades, is held in dozens of Brentwood and Crestview yards and homes.
October 16 • Oktoberfest, Crestview Shopping Center, coordinated by Arlan’s Market, Brentwood and Crestview neighborhood associations, and Violet Crown Community Works.
November 5 • Fall It’s My Park Day, an Austin Parks Foundation citywide event coordinated in our neighborhood by Friends of Brentwood Park. Longtime FOBP supporters Joanna Raye Fried and Joel Fried (of Eldorado Cafe) and Genuine Joe Coffeehouse and newcomer Dia’s Market donate food and drinks. • Fire Station 16 Workday and Mural Painting, Reese Lane, enhances a project begun there in 2010.
December 3-4 • Violet Crown Arts Festival, Brentwood Elementary—the last fall VC festival, at least for now.
December 21-25 • Luminarias on Arroyo Seco—a 23-year tradition—begins 12/21 with a Holiday Mingle in Crestview and continues in Brentwood 12/22-25.
February 28 • Crestview Pharmacy, owned by the Harper family and in the same shopping center location for more than 50 years, closes. According to the former owners, a new business is planned for the space.
April 30 • Feeling grateful to our longtime good neighbor Billie Herron for planting and caring for a majestic magnolia tree that provided beauty and shade to our Crestview street for more than 60 years. On this quiet Sunday morning, after several days of high winds, without warning the tree is uprooted and falls, narrowly missing a house, car, and neighbor working under it. In true Crestview-neighborhood style, people gather to trim and clear limbs and brush, visit with Billie and give her a hug, clip and share remaining flowers (including the one at left), and be sure the tree was stabilized. The bulk of it rested on two massive elbow-like limbs until it could be cut down and cleared away later that day and the next.
July 21 • Craig Ray Cherico, 59, step-grandson of original Crestview developer Ray Yates, passes away. Craig lived in the Yates home on the southeast corner of Woodrow and Yates for many years. He was a good neighbor and well loved by family, friends, and co-workers.
September 30 • James (Jim) Bauer, husband of Frances (Mickey) Bauer, passes away. Jim and Mickey are among the people we interviewed for our Voices of the Violet Crown project. Except for a few months, they have lived in our area for more than 60 years; Mickey moved here with her family originally in 1936, to a farm facing today’s Burnet Lane. Jim and Mickey are among the original members of St. Louis Catholic Church.
November 4 • Friends of Brentwood Park holds another successful It’s My Park Day, as part of a citywide service project to maintain and enhance Austin parks. FOBP, formed in Summer 2009, participated in its first IMPD in our neighborhood park in Spring 2010.
December 22 • Tommy Cockrell retires after almost 55 years as a barber at Cockrell’s Barber Shop in the Violet Crown Shopping Center on the northwest corner of North Lamar and Brentwood St. (We hear he’s cutting hair in Georgetown these days, as of June 2018.)
December 27 • David Glenn Cooke Jr., 93, passes away. We interviewed his wife, Louise Cooke, for our Voices of the Violet Crown oral history project. They were charter members of Crestview United Methodist Church. Their son Robert William Cooke died in 2014, and their granddaughter Rachel Cooke disappeared near Georgetown, Texas, in 2002 and has never been found.
February • Kristin Mitchener, great-granddaughter of Gladstone and Erna Swenson and granddaughter of Kay Swenson Ramsey, shares with Voices of the Violet Crown memories of original these longtime Brentwood neighbors. We feature her stories here (toward the bottom of the page).
March 22 • The Austin Genealogical Society reprints the VVC blog feature “Just What Is a Violet Crown?” in its Spring 2018 quarterly.
May 28 • Original Crestview neighbor Emory Emil Wilhelm Muehlbrad, 92, dies. He was a longtime member of Faith Lutheran Church in Brentwood, a World War II veteran, father of four, and foster father to hundreds more. You can read more about him on our website here and here (under Faith Lutheran) and view videos featuring him and his wife Wanda here, here, and here. We interviewed Emory and Wanda on February 8, 2008; a DVD copy of their videotaped interview is at the Austin History Center. Emory and Wanda also appear in our film A Community Mosaic.
June 12 • Another original Crestview neighbor, Eva Mae Waggoner (known to neighbors as Mae), 92, dies. She and her husband helped plant and care for the original sycamore trees in Brentwood Park beginning in the early 1950s. Well into her 80s, she visited the park and the Violet Crown Festival when it was held there beginning in 2003. You can read more about her on our website here; her obituary is here. Neighbor Nancy Schuler interviewed Mae in 2005.
July 29 • Longtime Brentwood neighborhood restaurant Frisco Shop closes July 29. It first opened in 1953 at 5819 Burnet Road, south of Koenig, then on the northern edge of town, and moved in 2008 to its final location at 6801 Burnet Road, formerly a Curra’s Grill. In April 1959, founder Harry Akins became the first white restaurateur in Austin to serve blacks in his restaurants; Harry also served as Austin mayor from 1967 to 1969. Frisco was the last of four original Night Hawk chain of restaurants in Austin, the first of which opened in 1932 at Riverside and Congress. At one time, there also were two in San Antonio and one in Houston. Read more about the Frisco here, in the July 20, 2018, Austin American-Statesman article by Michael Barnes. Another article, by Virginia B. Wood, appeared in the Austin Chronicle in 2001.
August • The Brentwood Neighborhood Association features an article about Emory Muehlbrad and Mae Waggoner, “In Memoriam,” in its August 2018 issue.
November 15 • Preservation Austin asks Voices of the Violet Crown about the source of the name “Ryan” in Ryan Avenue and Ryan Planting Strip in Crestview. We found that likely the park and the street were named for George L. Ryan, who worked in the A. B. Beddow real estate agency at least from 1947 to 1949. A. B. Beddow and Ray Yates began developing Crestview, from Justin Lane north to Anderson Lane, in 1947. There also are streets in Crestview named for Beddow’s wife (Justin Lane), Ray Yates (Yates Avenue), and the Richcreek family (Richcreek Road), whose farm became Crestview. The Ryan Planting Strip, at less than a quarter of an acre, is one of Austin’s tiniest parks. It is owned by the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.