From the 1920s to 1945

The City of Austin had a population of 34, 876 in 1920 and the Hancock neighborhood was near the northeast corner of the city limits. East Avenue (now Interstate 35) was a broad boulevard with a park in the middle. The Hancock Estate occupied the area along East Avenue from 32nd Street almost to 38th Street. A few lots had been subdivided on the west side of East Avenue from 38th to 41st Streets. The east 40 acres of the Country Club (the back nine holes of) fronted on East Avenue from 41st to 43rd Streets. Duval Street formed the western boundary of the neighborhood and the area between it and Waller Creek was the most developed portion of the neighborhood. The southern boundary, 32nd Street, because of its proximity to the University of Texas, also had been developed. The norther boundary, 45th Street, was occupied partially by a dairy farm north of the Country Club. None of the streets were paved. A few, such as Red Rivers, were graveled. The nearest streetcar line was in Hyde Park.

The 1928 master plan for the City of Austin recommended that, because of its extensive use, Red River Street be paved 40 feed wide from 19th Street to 43rd Street. The planners said that Duval Street was destined to be a very important trafficway and should be 100 feet wide. East Avenue was favored as a radial, arterial highway for the entire northeast section of the city.

There were no public schools in the neighborhood until Robert E. Lee Elementary School was built in 1939. Prior to its construction, elementary students attended Baker School at 3908 Avenue B. University Junior High School was located at Martin Luther Ling (19th Street) and San Jacinto. Austin High School as located at 1202 Rio Grande, now the Austin Community College main campus.

Lutheran Concordia College of Texas was established in 1926 on 20 acres facing East Avenue between 32nd Street and the newly named Concordia Avenue. The land was purchased from the Hancock Estate for $19,000. Mrs. Hancock volunteered to donate one of the lots for Concordia Avenue, which became the city limits. The description of the property as it looked in 1926 is given in the 1977 history, Concordia of Texas - From the Beginning: " . . . our first college campus was in the fullest sense, on the outer limits of the city. Generally speaking, we had city conveniences . . . but no paved streets. Nature compensated us for the few inconveniences . . . Across East Avenue at 34th Street was a square block of veritable 'bird's paradise.'"

On June 27, 1926 the cornerstone for the first building was laid. It was named Kilian Hall in honor of Rev. John Kilian, pioneer minister of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. He had led 500 Wends to settle in Texas.

In 1926, the Cashway Bakery and Grocery was located in the red brick building still standing at 40th and Duval. By 1935, several businesses had been established on 43rd Street just west of Duval, including the Checker Front grocery store, a butcher shop, a barbershop and a beauty salon. A service station existed at 4300 Duval and a garage for automotive repair was at 410 East 45th Street. By 1945, a cleaner, a variety store, and a shoe repair shop had joined the cluster of businesses near 43rd and Duval.

Two men who had a major impact on the development of Austin lived in the neighborhood during a portion of the 1920-1945 era. Edgar Perry, Sr. built his mansion on the site of the former quarry and gravel pit at 41st and Red River Streets. Perry used the fortune he earned as a cotton broker to build the Commodore Perry Hotel and the Perry-Brooks Building in addition to being the initial developer of Highland Park West and Highland Park neighborhoods.

Tom Miller lived on Park Boulevard and was mayor of Austin from 1933 to 1949 and again from 1955 to 1961. He was instrumental in obtaining federal funds for many projects that provided for numerous Austinites during the Great Depression.

Another resident of note was Morris Williams, who wrote about golf for The Austin American Statesman. He and his family lived at 517 East 40th Street. The municipal golf course adjacent to Mueller Airport was named for him and for his son who was killed in a World War II plane crash.

World War II and its attendant system of rationing caused Victory Gardens to sprout throughout the neighborhood. The families of servicemen stationed at Del Valle Army Airbase (later named Bergstrom in honor of the First Austinite killed in the war) rented houses or rooms in the neighborhood. University students lived in the many garage apartments in the area.