Heritage, Summer 2003 Page: 22
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Upper left: the restored streetcar pavilion, a project
of the Bellaire Historical Society; right: historic image
of the structure that provided construction and orientation
details that guided preservationists, 1910.
Below, left: 1913 Bellaire School class; the motorman's
name is Dad (perhaps a nickname) Thadford.
All images courtesy of Charles Sundin.
Restoration of the trolley pavilion completed a series of
projects in Paseo Park by the Bellaire Historical Society to
remind citizens of the city's history and founding by William
Wright Baldwin. The Historical Society had previously
installed a vintage streetcar adjacent to the pavilion site commemorating
the history of the streetcar line; the group also
secured a State of Texas historical marker, dedicated June 12,
1993, that described the line's role in Bellaire's history. The
pavilion reconstruction project was seen as another step in the
Society's preservation goals.
Though various civic groups had renovated the pavilion
during the years, it was not until a restoration plan was initiated
that planners were able to determine if anything of the
original structure existed. As it turned out, the Lion's Club
had built around remnants of the original pavilion, and by
doing so, had preserved a valuable resource of restoration
information. This was fortuitous, since there were no architectural
drawings or record of an architect for the pavilion.
Representatives of the Historical Society and municipal officials
met to develop an approach to accomplishing the work.
The city agreed to waive its fees, and the Historical Society
would raise the necessary funds and oversee construction
Initially several construction alternatives were considered.
Suggestions included shoring up remaining portions of the
building and replacing the missing architectural elements.
There was discussion, too, about dismantling the building and
reusing salvageable materials in reconstruction. While every
effort was made to save the building, in the end the group
decided that too little of the original structure remained for it
to qualify as a historical structure. That fact, plus the limited
financial resources, meant that demolition and reuse of salvaged
materials would be the only feasible option.
The next step was the compilation of information on the
original 1911 pavilion that would be used to prepare construction
drawings for building an accurate reproduction.
While many parts of the original building's structure survived,
nothing remained of the raised platform or enclosed rooms on
its west side. Fortunately, the cookbook published by the
Bellaire Women's Civic Club filled in some of the gaps. Not
only did that publication provide favorite local recipes, but it
also contained a written history of the city, including several
photographs in which the pavilion can be seen. These images,
when compared with the surviving structure, ultimately yielded
the needed information.
In addition to historical research, careful removal of the
newer construction, which concealed the original structure,
also garnered critical design data. Workers found that many
key elements survived from the original construction, and
other materials were uncovered that had been previously salvaged
for use in later remodeling. Wood timbers, handrails,
siding, decking, and moldings were some of the discovered
elements that provided valuable information about the original
design. At the same time that salvage work was being
done, the structure was also carefully measured and photographed
to preserve important information about materials,
size, layout, and details used in the original design. This information,
when compared with historical photographs, established
proper scale and provided further data for preparing
drawings of the missing building elements. Close-up views of
HERITAGE SUMMER 2003
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Summer 2003, periodical, Summer 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45377/m1/22/: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.