Grand Central Park: From Camp to Master-planned Community
From beloved Boy Scout camp to breathtaking master-planned community, the story of the 2,046-acre piece of pristine wilderness that would become Grand Central Park is one
intertwined with that of a wildcatter, marshmallows roasted over campfires and a developer dedicated to creating a place that honors the property’s grand legacy and where homeowners and nature could co-exist in perfect harmony.
Grand Central Park sits on the former site of Camp Strake, known for more than 70 years as the flagship camp for one of the nation’s largest Boy Scout councils, the Sam Houston Area Council.
The history of the camp is bound up in the greater history of the Scouting movement in Texas and the formation of the first troops in the Houston area.
The Houston Council overseeing Scouting in Houston was organized in 1913. In 1938, the name was changed to the Sam Houston Area Council Boy Scouts of America, which now encompasses 16 counties in southeast Texas serving more than 50,000 coed youth.
In the 1940s, the Council made the decision to create a special camp for the boys under its jurisdiction. Finding a pristine area for boys to experience the excitement of camping wasn’t difficult; paying for it was a challenge.
Help came from a member of the Council’s executive board,
George Strake. Strake was a wildcatter who discovered the Conroe oil field, which was then the country's third largest. In 1943, he donated the funds to the Council to purchase the more than 2,000 acres of land 35 miles north of Houston and the new camp was dedicated to him in 1944. Strake’s son George Strake, Jr., and his grandson, Steve, have served on the Council’s executive board and Steve continues to serve on it.
Camp Strake went on to become one of the largest camps in the United States, and generations of young boys spent fondly-remembered summers camping, fishing, earning badges and telling ghost stories around a flickering campfire.
Time marches on, however, and Camp Strake went from a pristine oasis to an island surrounded by homes, bright lights and honking horns. Eventually, the Council concluded
that in order for a new generation of scouts to experience the serenity of nature, a new site for Camp Strake needed to be found.
The Council put the historic property up for sale and Johnson Development Corp. saw the potential for a master-planned community where residents could live, shop and dine in a beautiful wooded environment. The company purchased Camp Strake in 2013.
Today, Grand Central Park is a growing, thriving community, attracting residents with a wide variety of upscale home choices surrounded by the same, naturally wooded beauty that has attracted legions of young nature lovers for more than 70 years. Only about 800 acres of the property will be developed, with approximately 1,200 acres of woodlands, 100 acres of lakes and miles of existing trails remaining — just as Scouts and their families remember them.