The Story of Cherrywood

Cherrywood Neighborhood Tales…including the Wilshire Wood and Delwood I neighborhoods

The area of Cherrywood includes a number of different little subdivisions, among them, French Place, which is the name many Austinites think of when you speak of Cherrywood. The communities known as French Place, Concordia, Avalon, Upland, University Park, Delwood, Schieffer and others merged in the 1980s to form the Cherrywood Neighborhood Association, taking its name from one of the major through streets. French Place homes were built in the mid-1930s along 28th, 29th, and 30th Streets and consist of wood framed bungalows with charming architectural details.

At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find the lovely limestone ranch homes of Wilshire Wood (north of 38 ½ Street) with their spacious yards, and open floor plans. Encompassing a tiny pocket of curving, tree lined streets, Wilshire Wood was billed as the Tarrytown of the eastside when it was developed in the years between 1941 and 1950. An advertisement in the May 25, 1941 American-Statesman, marketed the first lots for sale with the following description: “Beautiful beyond belief! …a neighborhood of wide rambling houses setting far back from the street in the middle of spacious, tree-shaded lawns.” Originally developed by Bascomb Giles, former Texas Land Commissioner, Wilshire Wood \Delwood I boasts one of the oldest homes in the vicinity. The Wright house, a two-story Victorian home on the grounds of St. George’s Episcopal Church, was built in 1870 and later became the Giles family home for over 50 years.

In the middle of the analysis, you’ll find the volcanic ash, block-built homes in Delwood that were constructed by the developer, Bascomb Giles for the returning WWII GIs. Homes built by Giles are located throughout Cherrywood and the Delwood I area. Giles also developed the neighboring Delwood shopping center, duplexes in the Maplewood school area and blocks of homes in the Cherrywood neighborhood just south of 38 ½ street.

As you can see, Cherrywood homes vary in age, style and condition. Some of the earliest homes in the area were built around 1912-15, but the majority of homes were constructed from 1930 to 1950. Since the southern part of the Cherrywood neighborhood is directly across IH 35 from the University of Texas at Austin many of our neighbors are associated with UT, either as a student, staff or faculty member.

East Avenue borders Cherrywood

East Avenue borders Cherrywood

Where is Cherrywood?

Bounded by Interstate 35 (I-35; formerly East Avenue), Manor Road and Airport Boulevard, Cherrywood is a flourishing central-city neighborhood of homes, businesses, and green spaces. Folks who live here form a gumbo of society — college students, longtime residents, professionals, young families with children and a mix of many ethnic origins. Early owners, like Doris and J.H. French, Bascom and Rogan Giles, Walter Schieffer, Nye Patterson and others, are remembered in the names of streets and parks.

Cherrywood Tales

If trees could talk, our old oaks and elms would have some tales to tell. In the 1930s, what is now Cherrywood Road ended at 38-1/2 Street and was known as a lovers’ lane. The big oak at the intersection has seen a lot of people pass under its canopy.

Aerial view of East Avenue looking toward downtown c. 1960

Aerial view of East Avenue looking toward downtown c. 1960

The original French Place area was bounded by East Avenue, Edgewood, Manor Road and Lafayette in the 1930s. Developed by the French family, it consisted of distinctive-style homes. A large part of the French Place neighborhood and Hillcrest Baptist Church were destroyed when the East 26th Street underpass and interchange for I-35 was constructed. In the days before I-35 was built, East Avenue was a broad finely landscaped boulevard with gardens, flowers and fountains. Acropolises and lovers’ lookouts were constructed with Austin white limestone. The boulevard had well-maintained broad lawns, huge flowerbeds with sculpted trees and shrubs. East Avenue was a beautiful downhill entrance into downtown Austin.

The Giles brothers developed the Giles addition and Delwood I and II neighborhoods. Many homes in this area are concrete block and stucco construction with casement windows, a cost-effective building method that was marketed to servicemen returning from World War II. In 1951 the Gileses opened the Delwood Shopping Center, the first commercial center of its kind in Texas. The red neon sign for the center still stands on 38-1/2 Street just east of I-35. A house built in 1870 by the Wright family and later owned by the Giles family for 50 years still stands next to St. George’s Episcopal Church in the Wilshirewood/Delwood I neighborhood north of Cherrywood.

Historic Wright Home in Wilshire Wood

Historic Wright Home in Wilshire Wood

The end of World War II also spurred development of the Schieffer subdivision out of the Schieffer cattle and dairy ranch. A farmhouse stood atop a little hill at Brookview and Vineland. A barn was near where 40th Street meets Boggy Creek.

Maplewood Elementary School was built in 1951 on pastureland to serve the growing population of families in the area. The original school building housed five classrooms and a lunchroom, which doubled as a classroom. Now the school doubles as an informal community center and serves as Cherrywood’s voting location for Precinct 152.

Robert Mueller Airport in 1960

Robert Mueller Airport in 1960

Our neighborhood was a longtime neighbor of Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, which began passenger service in 1930. As the airfield grew, it took over land that had been farms. In the spring of 1940, the airport was expanded into orchards owned by Nye Patterson. On the day the bulldozers arrived to level 2,000 blooming peach and plum trees, Patterson was reported to have watched with tears in his eyes as his trees were destroyed. Patterson died soon after and a portion of his orchard became Patterson Park at the north end of Cherrywood. Mueller Airport was closed in the summer of 1999 when the city moved commercial airline operations to the newly created Austin Bergstrom International Airport, which was built at a former Air Force base. The new neighborhood is being developed at Mueller, and it will be among our neighbors in the 21st century.