Rosedale Village – The Historical Perspective
Rosedale Village is more than just an urban oasis. It is also a testament to the determination of Frank Taylor “F.T.” Ramsey to preserve the natural environment for the enjoyment of future Texans. Five generations of descendants of the pioneering horticulturist have shared his vision, a heritage reflected in the picturesque and relaxing surroundings of the Village.
F.T. was born on June 15, 1861, in Burnet County, Texas, to Alexander Murray and Ellen (Taylor) Ramsey. After becoming a partner at the age of 16 in Alexander’s Burnet County nursery, F.T. and his father scouted the state by horseback and buckboard to identify and collect native plants and trees. They dubbed these specimens “choice wildings” and subsequently placed them in cultivation.
In 1884, F.T. married Annabelle “Belle” Sinclair. The couple had four children: Murray, Jessie, Euphie and Winnie. In 1894, Alexander and F.T. relocated their families to Austin, where they established the Austin Nursery. The venture, renamed Ramsey Nursery, flourished, eventually encompassing 430 acres in the area now known as Rosedale.
F.T. continued to pursue his particular interest in discovering and developing domestic fruit trees. Among those that he identified or originated are the Black nectarine, Leona peach, Haupt berry and Ramsey fig. F.T. also developed several varieties of pecans, bred a Ramsey hybrid shrub and introduced the Chinese jujube tree into the area. Because he generously shared his horticultural triumphs, fellow Austinites soon fondly referred to him as “Fruit Tree” Ramsey and memorialized his contribution to the city by naming Ramsey Park after him.
Winnie, F.T. and Belle’s youngest daughter, and future husband Hilliare Francis Nitschke were inseparable childhood friends. After marrying in 1918 they began purchasing land surrounding the Ramsey Nursery. In 1938 they platted the Rosedale H Subdivision, deriving the name from the Rosedale arbor vitae tree grown by the Ramsey Nursery. Winnie and Hilliare built the first house in the development at 4115 Rosedale Avenue.
For over three decades, the Nitschkes played an integral part in the evolution of the area. In 1940 they constructed buildings at 47th Street and Burnet Road to house Beck’s Rosedale Pharmacy, Harry Wilder Insurance Agency and the Rosedale Beauty and Barber Shops. In the mid-1960’s they built northward along the Burnet Road frontage, adding an emergency clinic, dry cleaning drop-off station, lawn service and nursery, flower shop and car lot. These businesses and a service station built in the 1950’s at 49th Street comprised a commercial hub convenient to the Rosedale neighborhood and was the precursor for today’s Rosedale Village.
Opened in January, 2004, Rosedale Village continues to demonstrate the dedication of the Ramsey family to enhancing the area. The development was conceptualized and built by Diane Wilder Howard with the support of her mother Alice Ann (Nitschke) Wilder. Even the Rosedale Village logo draws on the family tradition. It replicates an etching of a model A Ford on a gold watch fob medallion that Winnie gave to Hillaire when he purchased one of the automobiles around 1930.
Rosedale Village has another unique historical aspect. Old Chicago brick salvaged from the great Chicago fire of 1871 is incorporated into the exterior, adding to the development’s old-fashioned mercantile style and reminding visitors of its root in the past.