When Ada Shivers Griffin drives past the land west of Fry Road near I-10, memories call up a simpler time of milk cows and vegetable gardens—well before the first foundation was laid for the houses in Nottingham Country.
"A lot of changes have occurred on those original 400 acres my parents purchased," Griffin said. "It's always strange to me to drive by and see the development."
The land used to be rice and dairy farm country. For Ada's parents, William and Martha Shivers, it was an antidote to the city life of Houston—a quieter existence.
The Shivers bought the acreage in 1948 and made the move from Houston with their four children the next year.
"We had milk cows, a couple of horses, pigs and chickens, and we raised the hay and corn to feed the cattle," said Griffin, who now lives in nearby Fulshear. "We basically raised everything we ate. If we needed meat, we killed a cow. Everything was fresh."
The family also had a large garden full of vegetables and Griffin's mother canned fruits and vegetables and sewed all the family's clothes.
Since then roads have crisscrossed the area. The land is now hemmed in on the east by Houghton Road and along the south by Kingsland Boulevard. To the north the I-10 service road—formerly Hwy. 90—runs right through it.
The area began to change in the early 1960s when the state declared eminent domain on 24 acres of the Shivers property to build I-10. The state paid fair market value, which was under what the property was worth, Griffin said.
"Our property was right in the middle of where I-10 is now," she said. "Our house was literally right next to the north service road."
The Shivers built a new brick home farther back from the construction. Griffin's father built the house by himself, with the help of some contractors. He was a plumber and had installed plumbing for many schools in the Houston ISD. The family moved into the home in 1965.
As the I-10 construction continued, the state needed to build overpasses at Fry and Mason roads near the Shivers' property, so William Shivers sold the state dirt from his land to help with that project.
"My dad only had an eighth grade education, but he was very business oriented," Griffin said. "He sold them dirt from two locations on our property. He was pretty smart. The state may have paid him fair market value for our property, but he got them back when he sold them the dirt for the overpasses."
Then in 1971, William Shivers made a business decision that continues its legacy today. Developer Vincent Kickerillo asked to purchase the land for a housing development. That year Shivers sold 380 acres to Kickerillo, who later built what is now Nottingham Country development, one of the first large residential developments in the Katy area.
"My dad was in his early 80s and there was no way he could farm anymore—he just wasn't capable of doing that—and neither was my mother," Griffin said. "Taxes were also starting to go up, so it was to his advantage to sell it. Vincent Kickerillo came in, and we were there at the right time and the right place."
The development and the former Shivers property is now home to two schools—Nottingham Country Elementary School and Taylor High School.