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Parallel Development is a new column by contributing writer Brandon Cooper about Lewisville’s rich (yet often untold) history and how it relates to the issues we’re facing today.
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"So You Think You Know Lewisville?" Trivia Contest - The Answers

Parallel Development
Posted by Runfellow on 2013/3/1 11:00:00 (3106 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowBy Brandon Cooper

Admittedly, my questions for the first-ever "So You Think You Know Lewisville" trivia contest were a bit too difficult. I deliberately made the questions "ungooglable", because I wanted to see if anyone would do the research legwork and find some unorthodox sources.

Apparently, nobody did. That's no big deal, though. A few people made an effort to look up the answers, so that's good enough for me. In case you were wondering, here they are, along with where you can find them yourself:

What was Lewisville’s property tax rate in 1936?

According to the Texas Almanac and State Industrial Guide from 1936, the rate was set at 1.1%.

Bonus: What is it today?

The rate today is .44021%, which is one of the lowest rates in the metroplex. It's worth noting, however, that prior to around 1980 or so, properties were taxed at around 60% of their value, rather than the 100% we tax today. Lewisville's rate between 1978–1980 was 1.25%. By 1981, it had dropped to .75%; however, that number used the new 100% formula, which meant there really wasn't a change in how much people actually paid.

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Enter the "So You Think You Know Lewisville?" Trivia Contest

Parallel Development
Posted by Runfellow on 2013/1/27 1:50:00 (1735 reads)

Open in new windowSo you think you know the ins and outs of Lewisville, eh? Here's your chance to prove it. The Lewisville Texan Journal is hosting a trivia contest. The winner gets their own Mount Lewisville t-shirt (and acknowledgement of Grand Lewbah status, of course).

Each question is worth 10 points, and bonus points are worth one point each, for a maximum total score of 105. You don’t have to get the original question right in order to get the bonus point, and partial credit may be awarded. Entries should be submitted via email to, and will be accepted until February 28. With the exception of anyone who might be an answer themselves, anyone may enter, including city employees.

  • What was Lewisville’s property tax rate in 1936? (Bonus: What is it today?)

  • What motto did the Lewisville Chamber of Commerce use to market the city in 1953?

  • What former president of the American Mathematical Society hailed from Lewisville?

  • What Lewisville resident wrote an open letter to Michael Jackson in 1988, convincing him to change the pricing system for tickets to his world tour?

  • Who was the richest man in Lewisville in 1940? (Bonus: How much was he worth?)

  • Who solved a major controversy in Lewisville when he visited Lewisville Lake between 1978 and 1980? (Bonus: What controversy did he solve?)

  • Who has received the most votes for Lewisville City Council since 2010? (Bonus: How many votes has that person received?)

  • What odd thing did city leaders propose for the country’s bicentennial in 1976 that earned the title “Best Bicentennial Excess” from Texas Monthly?

  • What individual performed just about every job in Lewisville (finances, maintenance, etc.) at various points between its inception and the 1970s?

  • Who is this guy? (Bonus: Why is he important to Lewisville?)
    Open in new window

Some advice: It doesn't really make sense to post your answers in the comments, now does it? I suppose if you want to drop some hints here and there, though, we wouldn't mind.

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Parallel Development: One Year Later

Parallel Development
Posted by Runfellow on 2013/1/15 18:31:19 (1845 reads)
Parallel Development

Open in new windowBy Brandon Cooper

A year ago today, on Lewisville’s previous birthday, I began writing a column titled Parallel Development about the history of this city. As I envisioned it, the series would cover Lewisville’s history as it related to contemporary issues. Over the past year, I’ve added a few infrequent columns about various issues, some more serious than others. During that time, my purpose has clearly changed.

I initially approached this task using that same tired line we’ve heard from history teachers our entire lives: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Though the quote is often attributed to either George Santayana or Edmund Burke, the irony here is that there is no historical evidence that either man actually said it. Santayana perhaps gave us the closest version in The Life of Reason, Volume One, Chapter XII:

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

As I sifted through newspapers and documents long forgotten, I began to understand the difference between our commonly used aphorism and what Santayana actually refers to. His message in this context is not necessarily about societal progress through recalling historical events; rather, it regards personal progress as each individual matures through experience.

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"Images of America: Flower Mound" Misses the Mark of History

Parallel Development
Posted by Runfellow on 2012/11/29 3:16:40 (3174 reads)

Open in new windowBy Brandon CooperOpen in new window

Images of America: Flower Mound by Jimmy Ruth (J.R.) Hilliard Martin is, much like Robin Cole-Jett’s book about Lewisville published last year, about the history of smaller communities in North Texas that boomed in recent years to become their own metropoleis of sorts. The books share essentially the same basic structure: a few brief introductory paragraphs, followed mostly by archival photographs and captions. That’s about where the similarities end.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that local historians sometimes whitewash their community’s history. To some extent, I expect that in something like the Images of America series. That said, Cole-Jett’s portrayal of Lewisville is perhaps the most trustworthy in-print source of information about the history of the city. It isn’t perfect, but it makes for a great coffee table book. Better yet, it’s a great “glove compartment book”, something you can take with you around the city to compare photos with today’s buildings.

Admittedly, Martin’s book, released late last month by Arcadia Publishers, had less history to cover; Flower Mound’s history as an incorporated community only goes back to 1961. What little history the town has, however, is barely covered in the book’s 127 pages. Instead, the book is rife with random portraits of families, many of whom aren’t even identified. The pictures’ captions are of little help to the reader, often listing countless names instead of providing context for the photographs. Additionally, the author ends many of the captions with what could only be pure speculation on her part; assumptions about the photographs’ subjects–their feelings, preferences, and opinions–permeate almost every page.

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The Potential Perils of Premeditated Progress

Parallel Development
Posted by Runfellow on 2012/11/19 22:57:31 (2020 reads)
Parallel Development

Open in new windowBy Brandon Cooper

For the last half century or so, Lewisville’s motto has been “grow first and ask questions later.” The city has anticipated wild growth, and for the most part, we haven’t been disappointed.

Like most cities, businesses, and awkwardly eager college students, Lewisville produces or revises a long-term “comprehensive plan” every few years in an attempt to map out the city’s potential, including areas of concern and population estimates. These are important; under- or overestimating growth can have serious consequences on a city’s infrastructure that can last for decades.

By correlating our population growth rate with that of Dallas County’s in 1964, the consulting firm Henningson, Durham, and Richardson (now HDR, inc.) predicted in the 1964 General Development Plan that Lewisville’s population count would reach 25,000 by 1983. Sure enough, it reached 24,273 by 1980.

Open in new windowBut when the same firm returned to Lewisville in 1969 to write the 1971-1991 Comprehensive Plan, things were a little different. Despite their remarkable accuracy in the earlier plan, this time they used a more complex series of formulas—including various logarithmic, geometric, and arithmetic calculations—to predict that the city’s population count would hit at least 25,000 by 1980 and perhaps 60,000 by 1990. In 1976, the city even revised that estimate to 69,525. Even for a booming city like Lewisville, which had grown by around 150% every decade since Lewisville Lake was finished in the 1950s, it was an aggressive estimate to say the least.

By 1980, however, city leaders must have known that an average annual increase of over 3,000 people for 15 years wasn’t feasible. The 1980-2000 Comprehensive Plan used a completely different formula to estimate population growth. Using then-unpublished census data, the city arrived at a much more modest prediction of 38,325 for 1990. Other sources also varied widely on their predictions. (See right.)

The population of Lewisville in 1990 turned out to be 46,521. That’s 23,004 less than the 1976 plan predicted and 8,196 more than the 1980 plan predicted. This raises two important questions: What caused everyone to change the predictions so drastically? and If the city still expected rapid growth, why did it lower the population estimate?

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