The big white house on a hill embarrasses me.
In a block otherwise dotted with small, modest houses it has stood grandly—and patiently—at 1800 East Leuda Street for more than a century, waiting for me to notice it.
According to its deed card, the house was built in 1907.
But there’s more. The big white house on a hill, near the intersection of Riverside Drive and Vickery Boulevard, once had as a back-door neighbor . . .
Tyler’s Lake. Ever heard of Tyler’s Lake? I grew up on the East Side and happily misspent my youth in nearby Sycamore Park and Sycamore Creek, but I had never heard of Tyler’s Lake until I noticed it on this 1895 county map. On this map the lake appears just outside the Fort Worth city limits between the Mansfield wagon road (diagonally hatched line) and the streetcar line (“Electric R.R.”) to Polytechnic. (Map from Pete Charlton’s “The Lost Antique Maps of Texas: Fort Worth & Tarrant County, Volume 2” CD.)
J. L. Tyler was born in Michigan in 1845. By 1880 he was farming in rural Fort Worth. In 1884 he bought Lake Park just southeast of town with plans to enlarge the lake and add amenities. And he did, as clips from the Fort Worth Gazette of the 1880s and 1890s show. Tyler’s Lake and its park became a popular recreational area in Glenwood, an unincorporated community centered about where the big white house on a hill stands today.
J. L. Tyler was one of two dominant forces who shaped Glenwood. The other was R. (Richard) Vickery. By 1887, as Tyler was developing his Tyler’s Addition west of his lake, R. Vickery was beginning to buy and sell land, especially in the Moore survey. And where was the Moore survey?
The Moore survey included Tyler’s Addition, Tyler’s Lake, and much of the future community of Glenwood. This map is from 1890. The lake was fed by a creek from the west. Overflow from the lake’s dam fed Sycamore Creek to the northeast. (From Pete Charlton’s “The Lost Antique Maps of Texas: Fort Worth & Tarrant County, Volume 2” CD.)
R. Vickery was born in England in 1851. By 1880 he was living in Waxahachie and working as a confectioner.
About 1887, while still living in Waxahachie, R. Vickery began developing real estate in Glenwood. By 1895 R. Vickery’s Glenwood had 150 homes, 750-1,000 residents, its own school district, a six-room schoolhouse, three churches, and an artesian well. Vickery Boulevard, the main drag connecting Glenwood to Fort Worth, was “eighty feet wide and well graveled.”
By 1895 a streetcar line on Vickery Boulevard connected Glenwood to downtown Fort Worth and to Polytechnic College (TWU) to the east.
Ad is from the 1907 city directory.
By 1903 Glenwood was a thriving community. Glenwood residents that year voted on incorporation but rejected it, preferring to hold out for annexation by Fort Worth. Clip is from the December 13 Telegram.
As this 1906 Telegram clip shows, Glenwood was a hotbed of horticulture.
Finally, after prolonged negotiations between Glenwood and Fort Worth over annexation, in 1908 Fort Worth sweetened the (chicken) pot.
After the feathers had finally settled and the last souffle had fallen, Fort Worth indeed did annex Glenwood and its school on June 29, 1909. (Clip is from the June 29, 1909 Star-Telegram.)
Later in 1909 the Star-Telegram published a report on the educational facilities of Fort Worth, including the new high school, new ward schools, and the new twelve-room Vickery school. In 1910 Fort Worth built R. Vickery School at a cost of $42,000 ($1 million today) on—where else?—Vickery Boulevard.
By 1910 R. Vickery was a wealthy man, living on Summit Avenue on Quality Hill.
R. Vickery died in 1914. By then he was back on the East Side, living on Conner Avenue in Poly.
He is buried in Waxahachie.
J. L. Tyler sold his lake and park to the Ku Klux Klan, which was very active in Fort Worth in the early 1920s. But in 1923 Fort Worth parks superintendent George C. Clarke announced that the city had bought the lake and park from the KKK to convert into a park for African-Americans. White people in the area protested, and the city backed down.
James London Tyler died in 1924.
The city sold the lake to Joe B. Willis, who in 1925 agreed to drain and fill in the lake as a precaution against mosquitoes. The Star-Telegram article referred to the lake as Fort Worth’s “original pleasure resort” with a pavilion and dance hall (predating Rosedale Pavilion, the first of Fort Worth’s four trolley parks).
By 1927 a Sanborn map labeled Tyler’s Lake as “dry.” By 1929 the lakeless park was again a Fort Worth city property and had become Glenwood Park.
But the nameless creek that fed Tyler’s Lake still flows over the limestone of the park where the lake was, still flows under Vickery Boulevard and past R. Vickery School and into Sycamore golf course, where it merges with Sycamore Creek. That “large grove with plenty of shade” of 1884 still stands. The big white house on a hill of 1907 that waited more than a century for me to notice it still commands the hillside just to the north.
But now R. Vickery School of 1910 sits all blue and abandoned, like a schoolmarm wearing too much eye shadow. And Tyler’s Lake and the town of Glenwood of the 1890s are just ghosts on an old map.
Glenwood’s neighbor to the north:
North Glenwood: Little Island of Anonymity
Other “lost lakes” of Fort Worth:
From Katy to Tandy to Togo: The Lost Lakes of Cowtown