J. Tyler, R. Vickery, and the Ghosts of Glenwood Past

The big white house on a hill embarrasses me.

In the 1800 block of East Leuda Street—a block otherwise dotted with small, modest houses—this house has stood grandly—and patiently—for more than a century, waiting for me to notice it.

According to its deed card, the house was built in 1907.

For most of the twentieth century the house was owned by the Keeton family.

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 1895 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.)

glenwood panelJ. 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.

glenwood tyler and vickery 87J. 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?

glenwood 1890

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.)

glenwoord vickery 1880R. Vickery was born in England in 1851. By 1880 he was living in Waxahachie and working as a confectioner.

But 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.

glenwood 1907 cdAd is from the 1907 city directory.

glenwood headlines 12-13-03 teleBy 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. 

Also in 1903 Glenwood became the home of International & Great Northern railroad’s  local facility, located on Luxton Street just north of Vickery Boulevard. On the other side of Luxton Street was the Hub furniture factory.

As this 1906 Telegram clip shows, suburban 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: It offered to withdraw “the chicken ordinance” if Glenwood would become part of Fort Worth.  

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.

glenwood schools 1909 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.

glenwoord vickery 1910By 1910 R. Vickery was a wealthy man, living on Summit Avenue on Quality Hill.

glenwood vickery obitR. Vickery died in 1914. By then he was back on the East Side, living on Conner Avenue in Poly.

He is buried in Waxahachie.

glenwood kkk park 23J. 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.

glenwood tyler obitJames 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).

tyler's lake 1927 sanbornBy 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 the R. Vickery School of 1910 sits all blue and abandoned. 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

More on Glenwood:
Cowtown Yoostabes, Glenwood Edition: From Furniture to Forgings
Kansas, Quantrill, and the Not-So-Vacant Lot on Stella Street
All Aboard the I&GN for Everman, Venus, Maypearl, Waco, and Points South

Other “lost lakes” of Fort Worth:
From Katy to Tandy to Togo: The Lost Lakes of Cowtown

Fort Worth’s Street Gang

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33 Responses to J. Tyler, R. Vickery, and the Ghosts of Glenwood Past

  1. Elaine (Arnold) Thompson says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for making this history available. My grandparents, Joseph R. and Lilly Virginia (Maxey) Gurley lived in the 1700 block of East Vickery in the 1910 census.
    A few years later they purchased 2 1/2 lots on the north side of E. Vickery, 1601 & 1615 E. Vickery Blvd.
    My granddaddy’s business Gurley Feed & Fuel was built on 1601 & their 5-bedroom, living room, dining room & kitchen home was built by him.
    My mother, Esther Ruth, was born there in 1913. She was the last of 9 children. Sadly infant twins passed away. A son Maxey passed away in 1906. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery on the North Side.

    TAD.org mistakenly lists the year their home was built as 1921. That is impossible because Granddaddy passed away in November, 1917 as a result of an accident involving his favorite horse Jake. The Gurley family owned & occupied their home until 1995. Only 2 other families have owned
    the home from then until the present day.

    I know for certain that Mother and 3 of her
    older siblings attended R. Vickery Elementary.
    Bother Mother & her brother Lee graduated from
    Polytechnic High School.
    My father Melvin Clyde Arnold, son of Henry Allen & Elizabeth Jane (Shaw) Arnold also attended R. Vickery. As did I for grades 1-4 (1947-1951)

    Like Mother and her brother Lee, I also graduated from William James Junior High School and Poly High (1958). Mother and I dearly loved those schools.
    She was, as am I, deeply saddened by the closing
    of R. Vickery, my all time favorite school, and it’s deterioration. What a waste of a building that had wonderful teachers who provided us with
    a great foundation for our future education. I
    continuously hope for someone to buy and restore
    R. Vickery and put it to good use for the community.
    As to the white house on the hill – on the corner
    of Riverside Dr. – the Keeton family owned it from the early 1900’s until probably the 1970’s. They and Mother’s family were very good friends all those years. Mr. Keeton established a mattress
    factory and wholesale fabric business on E. Vickery in the red brick warehouse area immediately east of I35. The Keeton name is
    still there.
    Their youngest son started R. Vickery just a year ahead of me so that we both graduated from William James & Poly High.

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