Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hillcrest Farms history not forgotten.

Hillcrest Farms is a name many Austinites have forgotten. The name “Hillcrest Farms” does not ring a bell to the current Austinites of today. Only a handful of few longtime Austinites are aware of the name Hillcrest Farms. Hillcrest Farms is a name many longtime Austinites have forgotten. Inevitably Hillcrest Farms is one of Austin’s long forgotten institutions that has faded away with time. The Hillcrest Farms motto was “Stay where you are, we’ll bring it to you.”

In 1937, Harry L. Peterson started Hillcrest Farms in Del Valle, Texas less than a mile from the now Austin Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA). Hillcrest Farms Inc. started with just Harry L. Peterson and two employees in 1937. Hillcrest Farms had only one truck to work from and 22 cows and work with. Harry L. Peterson was the first milk producer to sell pasteurized milk instead of raw milk in the Austin, Texas area and in Travis County. 50 quarts of milk a day were produced by cows from the Hillcrest Farms in their early days of operation. In the early years, milk was poured into quart sized glass bottles for home delivery.

From a business standpoint, Hillcrest Farms originally intended to be a home delivery business in the beginning. Harry L. Peterson intended for Hillcrest Farms to be a home delivery business being that he already owned land set up in an agricultural setting in Del Valle, Texas. Hillcrest Farms was all home delivery.

Harry L. Peterson and Fred Barge became business partners in 1955. On June 1, 1956, Harry L. Peterson incoporated Hillcrest Farms as an agricultural business called Hillcrest Farms Inc. Hillcrest Farms was the
first dairy operation in Texas to equip a truck with a “milk tank” instead of cans. From then on, all Hillcrest Farms milk processors were to equip a truck with a “milk tank” instead of cans. 1969 was a peak year for Hillcrest Farms as that was the year more than 14,000 customers were served.

In 1970, Harry L. Peterson sold Hillcrest Farms to Jim Dobson and Brodie Keene. Tay Bond pledged $27,000.00 commission to Harry Peterson to be earned on the sale of property known as Hillcrest Farms to purchasers Brodie Keene and Jim Dobson in 1970. In 1970, Hillcrest Farms was also sold to Pure Milk.

In 1984, Jim Dobson and Brodie Keene sold a portion of their land to Del Valle ISD to build a school for which Hillcrest Farms would be named after for donating land. Hillcrest Farms was one of the last dairies in town to abandon real cream.

A small portion of Austin landmarks were named in honor of Hillcrest Farms. A Del Valle ISD school and road were named after the Hillcrest Farms both by the City of Austin and Del Valle. Such as Hillcrest Elementary School and Hillcrest Farms Road for example in this case.

In 2008, the City of Austin purchased several acres of land which was formerly owned by Hillcrest Farms to build a parking garage for Austin Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) which is currently operated by FastPark & Relax. This parking garage was built to meet the demand of additional parking for ABIA. By 2012, several more acres of land were purchased from the former Hillcrest Farms.

As an agreement with the City of Austin, US Government, Austin Bergstrom International Airport, Travis County, and Texas General Land Office (GLO), associated parties came to terms resulting in an agreement allowing former part of the dairy land to remain undeveloped in as attempt of historic preservation. As a part of this attempt for historic preservation enacted by the City Of Austin, tourists entering and exiting ABIA can get a feel of agricultural lifestyle from 20th century Del Valle in Travis County. By remaining undeveloped, the dairy land will continue to operate in its natural habitat which is why you see longhorns cattle as you exit ABIA.

A small portion of Austin landmarks were named in honor of Hillcrest Farms. A Del Valle ISD school and road were named after the Hillcrest Farms both by Del Valle, Travis County, and City of Austin. The Hillcrest name is spread over Southeast Austin and Southeast Travis County.

• For instance, take Hillcrest Farms Road for example.

In 1975, Hillcrest Farms got a road named after the dairy called Hillcrest Farms Road also known as  Hillcrest Farms Rd. To the left of the road is additional parking for ABIA operated by FastPark & Relax. To the right is natural farmland with a herd of cattle. In 2012, Hillcrest Farms Road was renamed to Spirit of Texas Drive.

• For instance, take Hillcrest Elementary School as another example.

Hillcrest Elementary School (fka Hillcrest School) was named after the Hillcrest Farms. Hillcrest Elementary School was located on land Hillcrest Farms owned which is why the school has the name “Hillcrest”. In 1984, Hillcrest Farms sold land to Del Valle ISD to build a school. In 1985, after a bond program enacted by Del Valle ISD, Del Valle residents voted for the school district to build a new elementary school. 1985 was the year Hillcrest Elementary School opened.

The Hillcrest School sat in its original location from 1985 to 1998 on Crozier Lane right next to Baty Elementary School (fka Baty School). Hillcrest Elementary School was relocated to William Cannon Road in Southeast Austin in 1998 due to the City Of Austin’s Airport Noise Mitigation Program which was responsible for relocating 6 Del Valle ISD schools in order for the ABIA Airport to be built and to operate. In 1999 the school was demolished. Hillcrest Elementary School is owned and operated by Del Valle ISD.

The Hillcrest Farms were located at 736 Bastrop Highway, Del Valle, Texas, US 78617 now known as 2200 Spirit of Texas Drive, Del Valle, Texas, US 78617.

*[736 Bastrop Highway is now Spirit of Texas Drive.]
*[Hillcrest Elementary School and Baty Elementary School have been since relocated to another location due to the City Of Austin’s Airport Noise Mitigation Program.]

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