Heritage, Summer 2003 Page: 23
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construction details were visible in several of the early photos,
and one in particular, where the pavilion appears in the distant
background, provided critical information on its original orientation.
Once all of the design and construction information was documented,
project managers sought to match currently available
materials to those used in the original building. Most wood trims
and crown moldings were still available with slight variations.
When this was not the case, suitable substitutes were found.
Drawings were submitted to the Texas Historical Commission,
which could take no official action on a reconstructed building,
but did offer an informal review. At the same time, funds were
raised and in-kind donations secured. With all of those tasks
underway, dismantling of the existing building began in February
of 1997; reconstruction of the pavilion started in July of 1998
and was completed two years later. The pavilion was formally
dedicated on September 9, 2000, at which time the Historical
Society officially presented the keys to the City of Bellaire.
The reconstructed trolley pavilion provides an important link
to a past that few residents of Bellaire even know existed.
Following World War II, Houston's expansion accelerated.
Westmoreland Farms gave way to suburban development, and
the farms began to disappear. Most were gone by the early 1960s.
The fertile prairie that supported farm crops proved equally ideal
for growing trees, and Bellaire evolved into a city of homes.
Change continues today, as many older bungalows and homes of
the '40s and '50s are being replaced by large new houses. Few
structures survive from the early days, and as old residents
leave, recollection of the city's history has faded. Reminders of
this history-the trolley, the historical markers, and now the
reconstructed pavilion-help link the present to the past.
It is reasonable to conclude that had William Wright Baldwin
not been fully committed to his vision for Westmoreland Farms
and had he not financially backed construction of the streetcar
line, that Bellaire would not have had the vitality to withstand
the pervasiveness of Houston's expansion. Bellaire's independence
and identity might have been lost, and like countless other
early towns in the area, it might now only be found on historical
maps. Instead, Bellaire is today a thriving community of 16,000
residents, proud of their past, and living the dream that William
Wright Baldwin had nearly 100 years ago.
Charles Sundin, a Bellaire resident and the trolley restoration project
architect, is a senior vice president with FKP Architects.
A special thanks to the following who were valuable resources for
The Bellaire Historical Society; The Bellaire Women's Civic Club;
author Elnora Kelly Pelton; Jeffrey D. Dunn, past president of the
Bellaire Historical Society; and Betty Janicek, former mayor of
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Summer 2003, periodical, Summer 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45377/m1/23/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.