• Plano African American Historian

Early History of the Plano, Texas and the Formation of the Douglass Community

Did you know the Douglass Area is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Plano?


In 1847-48, Joseph Clepper and his family settled into Plano which used to be called Peters Colony, and with that, the family established a 640-acre headright that is now known as the Douglass Area.


In 1874, the Clepper's deeded the land of Avenue H to the Methodist Church and they gave and sold the land for cemetery plots. Even though the church moved from the area in 1894, the cemetery remained and continued to be used. This cemetery is now known as the Old City or Pioneer Cemetery.


In 1884, the Shiloh Baptist Church was founded by two preachers on the east side of Avenue I, south of 14th Street. The church was later rebuilt in 1918 and again in 1964 in the original site.


In 1890, five structures were seen in the Douglass Area on the Sanborn Fire Insurance map as "negro tenants". After the church moved in 1894, the area transformed from a white to a black neighborhood. In 1896, a segregated school for blacks was located on the west side of Avenue I, south of 12th Street. Later in the 1950s, the Douglass Elementary School was constructed and named after Fredrick Douglass, a 19th-century abolitionist.


In 1907, the Texas Traction Company got approval from Plano City Council to build the Interurban Railroad through Plano. This railroad was built over Church Street or Avenue I through the Douglass Area and served as the eastern boundary of the neighborhood until it stopped operating in 1948. There were many different businesses that operated in the Douglass area from the 1920s to the 1950s such as restaurants, a barbershop, a gas station, and nightclubs and gambling houses. Most of these businesses are no longer in operation today. Even though there have been some businesses in the area, the Douglass Area is mostly residential in character. In 1956, the Douglass Community was designated as residential. Later in 1971, it was zoned as General Residential as it remains today.







Exhibit Activities & Questions:

  1. When was Plano Founded?

  2. Who are some of the relatives of the Founding Families of Douglass?

  3. During the formation of the Douglass Community, what were the names of some of the residents?



Sources:

Douglass Area Study | Plano Magazine

Heritage Farmstead Museum

Plano Public Library

Remembers: Life of Fred Moses

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