Pocket Parks

The History of the HSM Pocket Parks and Entrance Monument Sign/Garden

Original Mistletoe triangle before Triangle Park.

One of the delights of our neighborhood has been our small triangular “pocket parks” and the beautiful monument sign/entrance garden at the intersection of Monte Vista and Santa Fe. We enjoy these amenities, as we should, with little concern about how they got here or what the areas looked like before. It is a wonderful thing to take an eyesore or unimproved area and turn it into a place of beauty. It is a creative and wonderful experience, regardless of who claims credit.

The Hollywood triangle movement began in early 1995 with the Mistletoe triangle, which then consisted of a large grassy lawn, a postal storage box, and a large creosote pole with a streetlight (see photo). Rob Parks, Jason and Rebecca Barnes, John Lill, David Donohue and Craig Reynolds FAIA approached the HSMNA Board about the idea of landscaping the triangle. The Board authorized these neighbors to proceed, and the group worked to conclude a “Mowmentum Agreement” with the City of Dallas, allowing HSMNA to landscape the space subject to tight restrictions.

The City required a landscape plan before it would approve the agreement, and the group contacted celebrated landscape architect Naud Burnett to develop the plan, which was produced in February 1995. That plan, shown in a photo against the background of today’s triangle, was submitted to the City and attached to the agreement. Though ad hoc alterations have been made to the Naud Burnett planting plan, that plan remains the basis of our agreement with the City, with any subsequent changes requiring an updated plan.

The plan included replacing the original creosote light pole with an antique-looking “acorn light,” for which the neighborhood paid $1,000. In the photo, the triangle is shown after the installation of the acorn light but before the landscaping began. Though Naud Burnett worked pro bono, the plan’s implementation was beyond the means of the HSMNA alone.

Naud Burnett landscape plans
David Donahue, John Lill, Rob Parks

In the photos are two views of the Mistletoe Triangle’s opening day. In the shot to the left are David Donohue, John Lill, and Rob Parks, along with an unnamed canine triangle founder. Asked recently to comment, John Lill said, “It feels good to be part of a neighborhood improvement. I put down a lot of flagstone sidewalks.”

Jason Barnes added, “I built and installed the birdbath. I hadn’t built one that big before, nor will I do it again. I was very worried someone would steal it for the copper, so I sank that big steel pipe filled with concrete for a strong connection to the copper bowl.” Happily, the copper birdbath and steel pole have survived several subsequent attempts to steal it.

Another photo shows the newly placed Oklahoma flagstone, some of the first plantings, and original Chinese Chippendale-style benches a neighbor later replaced with concrete cemetery benches. Other neighbors, including Rob Parks and Charles Ladymon, watered the triangle until the installation of the sprinkler system, keeping the plantings alive. Mr. Parks is said to have had the longest hose in Hollywood!

Original flagstone, planting, and benches
Memorial plaques relocation

In July 2020, the relocation of the existing Charles Ladymon/Morris Granton Memorial Plaques was completed, as well as the relocation/renovation of the concrete benches by the Landscape Committee: Rob Parks, Jennifer Near, Ricky Girson, Judson Stafford and assistants Ed Zahra, Arthur Gonzales. In addition, the Landscape Committee had the heritage pecan inspected and treated by a certified arborist, and the memorial plaques were relocated to a safer (for the pecan) location within the triangle.


Mistletoe triangle Opening Day

The Mistletoe triangle inspired the development of the Clermont/San Mateo upper triangle. The photo shows that triangle before it was landscaped. The ugly creosote pole that accumulated makeshift signs was replaced by today’s acorn light, with the wire connection being put underground. The photo also shows the weed tufts, which were the only “landscaping” at the time.

The group discovered that another triangle (one block down the hill on Clermont) had been paved over by the City. They were able to get it disinterred for landscaping. It is an impressive feat to get a utility company to underground overhead wires, but convincing a Public Works Department to “daylight” what it had paved over and restore it with curbs was pretty amazing, even with the help of our then councilperson Veletta Lill.

By this time, the Hollywood landscaping movement had taken on a life of its own, and another Team Hollywood group began the ambitious Monument Garden, perhaps the most impressive and certainly the most expensive project of them all. The Monument Garden merits a whole separate submission in the future, so stay tuned!

Monte Vista / San Mateo original Triangle
Mistletoe Triangle Park today

We cannot be sure where the Hollywood “landscaping movement” will take us in the future, but it is unlikely it’s just confined to the past. Over time, the triangles will need to continue to be refurbished, including the Monte Vista/Santa Fe Monument Garden. Adding more pollinator-friendly plants for the children of HSMNA to enjoy butterflies and bees, ensuring the trees are healthy for years to come, and resetting the flagstone so that it is more level and safer are just some of the long-term plans for our neighborhood parks.

As we await the future, please take time to walk or bike to our triangles with the “before” photos in hand. Take the time to thank the neighbors still with us who participated in the planning, construction, watering, and maintenance of the triangles, and reflect for a moment on those helpers no longer with us; their spirits are within our parks.