A sign welcoming motorists to Southeast Denton sits at the intersection of Bell Avenue and Robertson Street.

With Denton growing by leaps and bounds, particularly to the south and east, the confusion is understandable.

The neighborhood's name of Southeast Denton is tied to the forced exodus of Quakertown, Denton’s prosperous free black community, from the center of town to the southeastern edge in the early 1920s.

According to a thesis that University of North Texas graduate student Barry Humphries wrote for his 1971 master’s degree in public administration, Southeast Denton: a city’s attempt to correct blighted conditions, Denton received a federal grant to identify blight and draft a plan for public improvements to address it. (Previous city plans from the 1930s to 1950s had addressed only street construction, according to Humphries.)

Planners tallied the substandard homes across the city and noted concentrations in two sectors — the same sectors where black families had been forced to move in the 1920s and where they continued to be segregated. Humphries noted the boundaries in his thesis, including Dallas Highway (now Bell Avenue and Dallas Drive) to the west with vacant land to the south; McKinney Street to the north; and agricultural land to the east, with the city’s former (and smelly) sewer treatment plant on Pecan Creek at that eastern edge.

Modern boundaries for Southeast Denton shared on some real estate websites recognize those same sectors, marking the eastern boundary along Woodrow Lane.

The city of Denton maps the area covered by the Southeast Denton Neighborhood Association with a southern boundary at Dallas and Shady Oaks drives, McKinney Street to the north, Bell Avenue to the west and Woodrow Lane to the east. The neighborhood group meets at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 1300 Wilson St.

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