Belknap Place Centennial Celebration
The Oldest Concrete Street in Texas
Monte Vista is home to many historic houses, and one of our streets is also historically significant. Belknap Place is unique in Texas! Monte Vista’s Belknap Place, built in 1914, is the oldest surviving concrete street in Texas and one of the oldest in the United States. Construction of this street was a significant civil engineering achievement. Few streets in Texas have been cited for their historical significance because most streets have a physical life cycle of less than 50 years and are often overlaid or reconstructed during this time.
Belknap Place is special because it was one of the first roads constructed using an innovative and award-winning two-layer “Granitoid” process that provided superior wearing characteristics. The granitoid process includes a lower layer of coarse aggregate, capped by a surface layer of denser, hard basalt aggregate. To provide non-slip footing for the shoes of horses, the unhardened surface was brushed to improve traction and scored in a 4 by 9-inch pattern resembling bricks. The Portland cement used in the construction of Belknap Place was manufactured in the area now known as the Alamo Quarry Market.
Monte Vista is fortunate the Cement Council of Texas has acquired a historical marker recognizing Belknap Place and reminding us of a time when horse drawn carriages were transitioning towards a newer mode of transportation: automobiles. For example, during 1910, San Antonio first published rules for conduct on city streets, focusing on horse-drawn carriages. Automobile drivers were expected to stop so as not to agitate a nearby horse or mule.
The Belknap Place Centennial Celebration will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, at the Laurel Heights United Methodist Church, between Woodlawn and W. Mistletoe. The Cement Council of Texas is partnering with the Monte Vista Historical Association to celebrate the unveiling of the Belknap Place Historical Marker to be located on Belknap Place between Woodlawn and West Mistletoe (adjacent to the parking lot of Laurel Heights United Methodist Church). A presentation regarding the unique history of Belknap Place and the unveiling of the marker will be at 11 am. Entertainment reminiscent of the period is planned, and will include a vintage car show with Model T and Model A Fords. The San Antonio Fire Museum will display their 1927 Fire Truck along with firemen dressed in “period-appropriate uniforms.” Entertainment will also include period music and dancing. The event is free to the public and food will be available for purchase. This is a family event led by MVHA’s Historical Preservation and Education Committee. We look forward to seeing you and your family for a day of fun at the Belknap Place History Presentation and Marker Dedication!
Sincere thanks to generous sponsorship provided by The Cement Council of Texas, Alamo Cement, Ann Van Pelt and Portland Cement Company. Additionally, we are grateful to Laurel Heights United Methodist Church for the use of their grounds.