HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD PARK
Hollywood Park of yesteryear was a charming new area being developed north of San Antonio with large lots, beautiful oak trees and a few deer grazing around. In 1951, a developer by the name of Mr. W. H. Barnes purchased the property and named it Hollywood Park. To enter the property one had to exit from San Pedro into Hill Country Village and enter Hollywood Park on Sequoia. At that time Sequoia was the northern border of Hollywood Park. The first home constructed was at 204 Sequoia Drive, in Unit 1, for Gilbert & Grace Sargent. The property north of Sequoia was owned by a rancher, Mr. Voigt. In 1953, an entrance to the Park was made. The street was named Mecca Drive, connecting Hollywood Park to San Pedro, now known as Hwy. 281.
Mr. Sargent owned the land at the entrance of Hollywood Park at #2 Mecca Drive and operated a lumber sales yard where residents could purchase supplies. Early city business was conducted in the lumber yard office. The land was later purchased by the city and became the location of the Town Hall and Fire Department. A Mr. M’s convenience store was built at Donella & San Pedro, which was a very popular place with all the residents, especially the children!
The Triangle Park at Mecca and El Cerrito was donated by Mr. Barnes. Nearby residents would mow the grass whenever needed. The Homeowners’ Association sponsored baseball games open to all ages each Saturday during the summer in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In the early days of our city, the telephone service was only available as “party lines” and shared among neighbors. Most lines were shared by two to four homes, which meant taking turns using the phone. Only one house could use the line at a time, so residents would coordinate when calls were to be made.
The town was small but growing and seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere. The closest grocery store was Handy Andy at San Pedro and Hildebrand. The closest place to take the family to dinner was the Jim’s Frontier Drive-In Restaurant at San Pedro and Basse. Milk and ice cream, etc., was delivered to homes by local dairies. In the early 1950s, Hollywood Park children went to Old Coker, a little red brick schoolhouse at Salado Creek and Hwy. 281, a two-way road, one lane each way. After the creation of North East Independent School District in 1955, the new Coker on Heimer Road became the elementary school and MacArthur became the high school until Churchill opened in 1966.
The neighborhood was growing in 1955. Residents were concerned about losing the neighborhood’s autonomy to San Antonio and so a meeting was held to discuss the possibility of incorporation. It was decided that homeowners would vote to make the decision. One October Saturday in 1955, residents met in the garage of the Weinholt home on Sequoia and voted on paper ballots. History was made in the garage that day and the Town of Hollywood Park was officially incorporated on December 7th, 1955. Mr. Clifford Mann became the first mayor.
The Police Department was established in 1955 soon after the town was incorporated. John Nelson was hired as its first Police Chief. The police car was a Ford Fairlane 500. Shortly thereafter, a few volunteer part-time policemen joined the force. A book entitled “Safe Places for the ’80s” was published by Doubleday and Co. listing Hollywood Park among 110 towns in the United States as a safe place to live with low crime rates.
The area near Mr. Erwin Voigt’s ranch (now known as the Stone Oak Area) was being steadily encroached upon by the growth of San Antonio northward. In 1955, Mr. Voigt made his first land sale for development rather than ranching. It was a tract adjacent to Hollywood Park and he sold it to W. H. Barnes Development Company. It became units Four and Five of Hollywood Park. It was one of the higher-priced sales in the area at the time. Later he sold land to Dallas developers what was known as Canyon Creek Country Club on Blanco Road.
The Voigt family donated a 3-1/2 acre tract of land at the West end of El Portal to the city for use as a recreation area, now known as “The Voigt Recreation Park”. Young families joined together to build a swimming pool which was later donated, with Mr. Voigt’s approval, to the Town of Hollywood Park and re-built.
Coming together with the purpose of figuring out how to landscape around the many rocks, two dozen women of Hollywood Park formed a Garden Club in 1954 with high hopes to make Hollywood Park beautiful with flowers and plants and to get to know their neighbors. Agnes Herzig on Antelope Drive was its first president. Everyone tried so hard to make it a success but because of the many rocks, the open land for the deer and the drought of the 1950s, flowers and plants did not grow as planned, so it was decided to change from Garden Club to Woman’s Club.
In 1956, the Woman’s Club of Hollywood Park was born. The purpose of the Club was to foster greater interest in the Home and Civic activities, cultural development, and help build Hollywood Park into a safe and wholesome community for everyone. This still remains as its purpose today. Meetings were held in members’ homes. Many projects, such as a Community Club Awards Contest, sponsored by KENS radio, barbeques, white elephant sales, bridge luncheons, raffles and cookbooks, etc., were undertaken to raise money to help build a town hall and establish the fire department. Easter egg hunts, Halloween parties, Santa parties and swimming parties were held for the children. A recreation center was needed as the Town Hall was too small, and again the Woman’s Club was active in raising funds for this project. Ladies took turns watering the shrubbery at the Mecca Street entrance.
The Homeowners’ Association was formed in the late 1950s and the community enjoyed having fun together. Monthly meetings were held at resident’s homes and Christmas parties were held each year at Aggie Park. In 1959, the Homeowners’ Association decided to create a newsletter to share news about the families and events here in Hollywood Park. A contest was held to name the newsletter and the name chosen was the “SPARKS”, submitted by Mrs. Rawlins. Lucille Schmidt was the first editor. The Sparks was printed in the home of a resident, compiled and folded by residents, and then delivered door to door by residents. A resident directory was also published and delivered to residents.
Water hoses had to stay connected at each residence and ready to use in case of a fire. In 1958, a group of men joined together and a couple of volunteers attended the Firefighters School at Texas A&M University, and the Hollywood Park Volunteer Fire Department was founded. That year all the firemen had was a small pump unit. Robert Oakes, as general chairman, and many volunteers organized the first Hollywood Park Volunteer Fire Department Benefit Barbeque held June 22, 1968 at Raymond Russell Park. Volunteers prepared all the food. 746 people went through the serving line. The event was held for many years at Raymond Russell Park with games for the entire family and a live band. Funds were raised for equipment and to purchase 20 new two-way portable alerting units. Fred T. Keepers, Jr. was Fire Chief from 1967 — 1978.
By 1969, eighteen dedicated volunteers provided protection for the 612 residents of Hollywood Park, Hill Country Village, as well as over a large area of ranchlands in the northernmost sections of Bexar County. The City provided the firemen with bright yellow uniforms, but they got no other compensation for their duty. The largest fire occurred in August of 1968 when a grass fire erupted near Hwy 281 and burned off 3,000 acres. By 1973, there were 29 volunteers. A new Rescue Unit was purchased through fund raising projects and donations. There were 900 homes now and 9 city employees.
The Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Hollywood Park Volunteer Fire Department was formed in the summer of 1970 at the home of Leah Lewis, its first president. The auxiliary assisted the volunteers at the barbeque and provided the men with sandwiches after a fire. Two money raising activities were held each year to contribute financially to the department. In June of 1977, the auxiliary presented a 40- channel Citizen Band radio to the fire department as a continuing support of the local fire fighters. In 1978, they donated funds to be used for purchasing interior and exterior lights for the new pavilion by the swimming pool.
In 1962, the area now designated as the Fire Department was constructed and city offices moved into it. This building was accomplished with donations of funds and labor from the Homeowners’ Association, The Woman’s Club and the Fire Department Auxiliary. In June of 1967, a siren and tower were installed. A single “blast” was sounded each Wednesday evening at 7:30 pm to remind people that the volunteers were meeting in order to better acquaint themselves with the equipment and to learn more about fighting fires.
As the city grew, residents petitioned to have their butane system replaced with natural gas and street lights were eventually installed.
In the 1960s, a Bowling League was formed, and ladies bowled weekly at San Pedro Bowling Lanes and later at Wonder Bowl.
In 1971, Mr. Voigt donated $10,000 to the City of Hollywood Park to build the Voigt Center, naming Alverne Halloran as custodian, until the city matched funds to begin building. The 3,000 sq. ft. recreation building was finally built in 1974, and the grand opening and dedication was held on October 20, 1974. This was a day of fun and entertainment with games, food and drink offered. The City Council designated this day as “E.E.Voigt Day” in honor of the occasion. Mayor Felix Forshage opened the ceremony. Mr. Voigt introduced his family and spoke of the origin of the park. Tennis courts and a covered picnic area were built in 1975 with an additional $5,000 donation from Mr. Voigt for the tennis courts. A children’s playground was added later.
The Rock ‘n Oaks Garden Club was formed in 1973 and has continuously contributed to the beauty of Hollywood Park. Two Country Red Crepe Myrtle trees were planted at the Voigt Center in 1990, a Youpon Tree was planted at City Hall in 1992, and a Bradford Pear Tree was planted at City Hall in 1993.
In 1975 Administration and Police Departments moved into an abandoned building which had served as the office of the Hollywood Park Lumber Yard at Two Mecca Drive. This was to serve as City Hall for five years. In May of 1987, a Committee, appointed by Mayor Patricia Flynn, was commissioned to draw up plans for a new City complex together with financing options. Public hearings were held in February 1988 and a bond election was authorized and passed on May 7, 1988. In October of 1988 a contract for the building at $377,456.18 was signed (the lowest of 18 bids received) and ground was broken on November 1, 1988. The new building was occupied on May 4, 1989. Elections were held in the new building on May 6, 1989. Sketches of three Town Halls, 1962, 1975 and 1989 were donated by artist, Ruth Childre, a Hollywood Park resident. In 1989 there were 1,100 homes, the population was 3,000, and Hwy. 281 overpass at Mecca Drive was being built.
Hollywood Park celebrated its 50th Anniversary in October of 2005 with a celebration at the Voigt Recreation Park. A video depicting the first 50 years, created by Kent Chamberlain and Alverne Halloran, was shown.
Hollywood Park has seen many changes over the years. Residents have come and gone and many second generation residents have moved back to raise their own families here. Hollywood Park is a community with a unique history with hopes of more wonderful years ahead. It is a great, peaceful and friendly place to live. The town was built by dedicated people who really care about Hollywood Park. Families working together have created a true sense of community and this spirit of community still thrives today. Neighborhood friendships are a special find. Hollywood Park is a special place with special people.
Written by Alverne Halloran Resident since 1957
Historical information provided by Agnes Herzig, Margaret Beitel, Henry Steckelmeyer, Betty Sawyer, Sissie Wenzel, Nicole Ramirez, Lee Vogel and Town of Hollywood Park.