Belknap Place is the oldest surviving concrete street in Texas.
By R. Eguia
The Monte Vista Historical Association’s Historic Preservation and Education Committee observes the centennial of Belknap Place at 10 a.m.-2 p.m. this Saturday, May 21 between Woodlawn and Mistletoe.
This event is free to the public, family friendly and will include a vintage car show with Model T and Model A Fords produced during the same time Belknap place was constructed. Food will be available for purchase at several food trucks.
At 11 a.m. the association and the Cement Council of Texas will unveil the Belknap Place historical marker to be located on Belknap between Woodlawn and West Mistletoe, adjacent to the parking lot of Laurel Heights United Methodist Church.
Built in 1914, Belknap Place is the oldest surviving concrete street in Texas and one of the oldest in the United States. The committee will preface the unveiling with a presentation regarding the unique history of Belknap Place.
During 1910, San Antonio published rules for conduct on city streets, focusing on horse drawn carriages. Automobile drivers were expected to stop in order to avoid agitating a nearby horse or mule.
Few streets or roads in Texas have been cited for their historical significance because most streets and roads have a physical life cycle of less than 50 years, and are often overlaid or reconstructed over time.
An innovative and award-winning two-layer “granitoid” process that provided superior wearing characteristics was used in construction of Belknap Place.
A coarse, aggregate lower layer and a denser, hard granite aggregate surface layer provided non-slip footing for horseshoes.
The unhardened surface was brushed to improve traction and scored in a 4-inch by 9-inch pattern resembling bricks. Portland cement that was manufactured in the area now known as the Alamo Quarry Market was used in the construction of Belknap Place.
District 1 Councilman Robert C. Trevino, will present a sample of the new concrete sidewalks that will be used in the area at this event.
More history on the building of the Monte Vista neighborhood can be read in a book called San Antonio’s Monte Vista: Architecture and Society in a Gilded Age.
Published in 2010 by Donald E. Everett, the book details the 100-block Monte Vista National Historic District block-by-block, with numerous vintage and contemporary illustrations and a separate index of architects.
Everett writes that architects in the early 1900s were drawn to the burgeoning city from across the country and designed homes both elaborate and modest in an unusual variety of styles when San Antonio was still the largest city in the largest state.