The community that became known as “Polytechnic Heights” (just plain ol’ “Poly” to you and me) boomed during the 1890s with the coming of the college and the cotton mill (see East Side Story (Part 1): The Mill and the Methodists). The new college built a fine church on its campus in 1891. In 1892 a post office was built near the mill, and Samuel Selkirk Dillow opened a grocery store across Avenue F (renamed “Rosedale” about 1938) from the college.
In 1894 Richard L. Vickery, George Tandy, and others formed a streetcar company and laid tracks from the college along Nashville Avenue and Vickery Boulevard to Boaz Street southeast of downtown Fort Worth. The cars were pulled by mules. But first the streetcar line, as had the T&P railroad in 1876, had to bridge “the Sycamore.”
Communication, like transportation, advanced: The college had a telephone by at least 1893.
In 1902 the interurban connected Fort Worth and Dallas, with stops in Poly near the creek, the college, and Tandy Lake. A sign from the Tandy Lake stop—located between today’s Collard and Ayers streets—has remained in the Tandy family. (Bottom photo from Bert Tandy.)
By 1905 lots in Polytechnic Heights addition were selling for as little as $25 ($677 today). The college, the ad crowed, was located “on a slight eminence 75 feet above Fort Worth . . . it is one of the most healthy locations in the State, and has all the advantages of a city without its disadvantages.” The ad shows the streetcar line ending at the college. (Plat from Pete Charlton’s “The Lost Antique Maps of Texas: Fort Worth & Tarrant County, Volume 2” CD.)
The first Polytechnic school was built in 1907 on Nashville Avenue at Avenue C, about where William James Middle School stands today. James, a past grand master of Texas Masons, was marshal of ceremonies when the cornerstone was laid.
This sketch of the 1907 building appears in the first Poly High yearbook.
Meet the 1911-1912 faculty of Poly public Schools. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Library.)
The 1921 yearbook shows the Polytechnic district school board members, including Samuel Selkirk Dillow and Lewis Tandy, son of George and grandson of Roger.
Here is how the Telegram defined the boundaries of Poly in 1908.
In 1908 the population of Polytechnic was seven hundred.
Early in 1909 Polytechnic, now with a population of two thousand, hoped to reach five thousand in 1910. Clip is from the February 12 Star-Telegram.
Polytechnic didn’t have five thousand residents in 1910, but on November 5, 1910 the residents of Polytechnic did vote to incorporate. The new city, with a population of three thousand, formed a volunteer fire department in 1911. As with the first streetcars, mules pulled the fire wagon. Firemen walked along behind. In 1918 the city furnished firemen with trousers and boots. Clip is from the November 6, 1910 Star-Telegram.
By 1912 Polytechnic High School had added an eleventh grade and graduated its first senior class. Thus, the high school celebrated its centennial in October 2012.
The second Poly High School building (Clarkson) was built in 1922 on Nashville Avenue just south of the first Poly High School building.
These Fort Worth Record photos of 1922 show the first and second Poly High School buildings. The first high school was also called the “Dillow School.”
In 1938 the second high school building was replaced by the current Poly High School building on Conner Street and became Poly Elementary School. A handsome building, the Poly Elementary School was torn down in the 1970s to make way for a vacant lot. That vacant lot still stands.
The cornerstone of the second Poly High School building now resides in the third Poly High School building.
Lewis Tandy, son of George Tandy, developed part of the family land as “Tandy Addition.” This ad from 1913 shows the county orphanage, the home of George Tandy, Tandy Lake, the Tandy Lake stop on the interurban, and the streetcar line to the college down Vickery Boulevard and Nashville Avenue. In the Tandy subdivision were streets with the names of seven Tandy siblings and the Tandy surname: “Ben,” “Giles,” “Jeanette,” “Rachel,” “Marguerite,” “Annie,” “Lewis,” and “Tandy.” Today only Ben, Lewis, and Tandy streets survive with their original names.
In 1914, just south of the college on Vaughn Boulevard behind Dillow’s grocery, Polytechnic built a building that would house a fire station, city hall, and water department office.
Cornerstone of Polytechnic’s city hall.
The new city grew quickly. By 1919 its population reached five thousand. In 1920 Poly was given postal carrier delivery service. Residents increasingly realized that their city needed more such public services—services it could not provide for itself.
In 1921 residents of Poly began debating the idea of Polytechnic being annexed by Fort Worth. Petitions were circulated. Meetings were held. Finally, on January 31, 1922 Fort Worth annexed Polytechnic. Clips are from the January 31 Star-Telegram.
But apparently there was some uncertainty about the legality of the January 31 annexation. On July 22 voters approved annexation of Polytechnic Heights, Arlington Heights, Washington Heights, and Mistletoe Heights, among other suburbs. “Greater Fort Worth” was born as Cowtown exploded in area and population, adding an estimated forty thousand to fifty thousand people. With the expansion Fort Worth had to rename hundreds of streets to avoid duplication. Arlington Heights Boulevard was renamed “Camp Bowie Boulevard.” Clip is from the July 23 Star-Telegram.
How compact and self-contained was Polytechnic? In the area of less than a square mile shown in this aerial photo you could attend (1) Poly Elementary, (2) William James Junior, and (3) Poly Senior High School, go to college at (4) TWU, get married in (5) Poly Methodist Church, be healed by (6) Dr. John W. Hewatt, have your funeral at (7) Meissner Funeral Home if Dr. Hewatt failed, and be buried in (8) Polytechnic Cemetery.
The roots that those early East Side settlers—the Lovings, the Ayreses, the Tandys and Halls—had put down in the prairie sod seventy years earlier with no plans of community had nonetheless grown into a community, then a suburb, then a town, and now a part of the big city to the west.