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Palm Boulevard

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1916–1940. 500–700 and 1900–2000 blocks of Palm Blvd.

A wide, divided thoroughfare, Palm Boulevard was more than an exercise in the City Beautiful movement. It was a clear delineator between the staid, conservative original townsite and the new suburban patterns dictated by American mainstream urban traditions. Landscaped with palms and bougainvillea, Palm Boulevard anchors a set of public schools to its south, and to its north serves as an entrance to the newer elite neighborhoods of the 1920s and 1950s.

Extending for three unified blocks, a group of schools denote their allegiance to the new American suburb by their presence, style, and location. At the southern end, Atlee B. Ayres built the red brick Brownsville High School (1916) at number 501 in a functional, neutral design. At the opposite end at number 701, Brownsville Junior High School (1922) by M. L. Waller is a nondescript educational facility, except for its arched, Sullivanesque central entranceway. The grouping was completed by Phelps and Dewees and Atlee B. and Robert M. Ayres with a new Brownsville High School and Junior College (1928) at number 601 in response to the area's rapid population growth. The Romanesque Revival building serves as infill between the two end structures.

To the north, Palm Boulevard leads to Los Ebanos, a 1926 subdivision extending from Ringgold Street to Boca Chica Boulevard. Created by the James-Dickinson Company, who also developed the El Jardin Hotel ( BS3), the meandering streets of Los Ebanos stood in stark contrast to the orthogonal grid of the original townsite. Its generous lots provided ample space to showcase new houses set amidst lush, exotic native plantings. Los Ebanos combined the talents of many architects of the region. Frank E. Torres, the first Mexican American licensed to practice architecture in Texas, built the two-story William Scanlan House (1940) at number 1905 with a wraparound veranda in the tradition of La Nueva Libertad (see BS16) and the Alonso complex ( BS20). The Monterey-styled Larry F. Lightner House (1936) at number 2020 was designed by Miami architect Russell T. Pancoast. E. Guy Holliday built the Fausto Yturria House (1931) at number 2021 for a grandson of Don Francisco in the Spanish Mediterranean style with a gated archway leading to a courtyard visible from the street.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.

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