Some East Side microhistory: Ninety-nine years ago this week—April 19-26, 1914—the developer of Turner’s Subdivision in the Beacon Hill Addition east of the Fort Worth city limits ran a series of newspaper ads promoting a big sale of “suburban” lots.
In this ad of April 26 the developer boasted of cement sidewalks, “pure artesian water,” and no city sweltering.
The “Fort Worth, Handley, and Dallas paved boulevard” through the subdivision (“finest paved boulevard in state”) is now Lancaster Street. And the “Fort Worth and Dallas Highway” is now Panola Street.
Beacon Hill was “the beauty spot on the interurban,” the developer boasted: No lot was more than seven hundred feet from the double-track interurban line. Fifty-eight interurban cars a day would whisk homeowners to Fort Worth or Dallas.
(Note that the sales manager was Will L. Sargent and that one of the streets in the subdivision is Sargent Street—one of the perks of the job.)
Indeed, as this 1920 Rogers map shows, the Virginia Place interurban stop was at Mount View Avenue. (Map from Pete Charlton’s “The Lost Antique Maps of Texas: Fort Worth & Tarrant County, Volume 2” CD.)
See the blue dot on the ad’s plat? Today at that intersection of Mount Vernon and Newark streets (labeled “New York” on the plat) stands the lone surviving column of a pair that once flanked the formal entrance to the north half of Beacon Hill.
Alas, a search of Tarrant Appraisal District’s database shows that no pre-1920 homes in Beacon Hill have survived.
In another ad Turner boasted “no city taxes, no typhoid fever, no city evil influences.” The “no city taxes” boast didn’t last long. By 1920, as the Rogers map shows, Beacon Hill was in the city limits. And why was “no typhoid fever” such a selling point in 1914?
Because, as the Star-Telegram had reported on April 7, 1914, a recent typhoid epidemic had been blamed on polluted water from the Trinity River distributed by the Holly Street waterworks. The city pumped both artesian water and river water. Artesian water was thought to be safer.
That little area shown in the 1920 Rogers map was busy in 1914. See the circle on the map labeled “Tandy Lake Stop”? That squiggle just to the right of “Stop” is Tandy Lake. This is the only map I have seen that shows Tandy Lake, which had been a popular recreation destination since the late nineteenth century but was greatly reduced in area by 1920.
And see the Tarrant County Orphans Home in the upper-left corner at Collard and Lancaster?
Just a few weeks before the Turner’s ads ran, that orphanage, built in 1908, had burned. There were no fatalities. Firemen laid 2,200 feet of hose from Tandy Lake to fight the fire.
And see “Texas Woman’s College” on the Rogers map? A few weeks after the Turner’s ads ran, on June 1, Polytechnic College, founded in 1890, would confer its last degree under that name.
Later in June 1914 the school would become Texas Woman’s College. In 1934 Texas Woman’s College would become Texas Wesleyan College, which in 1989 would become Texas Wesleyan University.
Look again at the 1920 Rogers map. See that oval? That was the race track on the farm of William Bailey Fishburn. Fishburn bought those twenty acres in 1917 and built a “fine new home” and a stable for thirty-six horses. “Short Ship” apparently refers to the distance horses were transported to races by rail. The Star-Telegram clip is from 1919.
Remember the Fishburn chain of dry cleaners? Same guy.
Fishburn had been in the dyeing and cleaning business in Fort Worth since 1901.
That’s enough squinting for one day.