Born and raised in North Dallas, Phil McNally remembers when everything up to the Red River was nothing but farms and ranches.
Initially, he and his Thomas Jefferson High School friends went drag racing off Forrest Lane which at the time was the edge of the world. They moved to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Freeway (Interstate 635) once it was finished.
“Everybody back then said, ‘why would anyone want to put this big old freeway that far out of town,’ ” said McNally, who has lived with wife Angie in Lewisville for 40+ years. “Then places like Addison, Richardson and Farmers Branch all blew up. It was ‘what’s next?’
“Turned out it was (state highway) 121 which back then was basically a four-laner and in some parts a dirt road. That was really far out. Who would want to build that far north?”
Once 121 expanded, Plano started to grow and after the Dallas North Tollway came to be, Frisco took off. To the west of Plano and south of 121 was farmland McNally first saw when he got his driver’s license and first car in the 1970s.
“None of this looked like it was connected,” he said. “You’d have one farm here and go down the road and another farm there but never saw any kind of interconnection. That’s the way Castle Hills was back then. You could get lost on those roads. It led who knows where. Except for those who lived there.”
McNally recalled streets, sewage and water being installed in the early 1990s but no homes until later in the decade. That’s when former Dallas Cowboys owner H.R. (Bum) Bright, owner of that land back to 1952, created what now is a 2,900-acre master-planned residential community developed by Bright Realty. After welcoming its first residents in 1998, last year it was annexed to Lewisville.
“I saw all this stuff happening but didn’t have the money to invest in it. I wish I did,” McNally said. “I would be a millionaire like the Brights.
“Castle Hills to me was a continuing growth of everything around it. As those things slowly grew like The Colony and areas around it, Castle Hills became a treasure trove of land.”
After earning a computer science degree at the University of Texas-Dallas, McNally, 67, worked 40 years as a software engineer before retiring in 2019. Since then, he has spent his time painting most recently focusing on landscape artwork that can be found at thetexasartist.com.