it had to have been a developer from Dallas
who in the early 1900s came up with an unusual name for his planned
utopian community halfway between Big
D and Fort Worth.
Dalworth, Texas, he thought, had a nice ring to it.
Either because "D" comes before "F," or because Dallas
has always been larger than Fort
Worth, or because the movers and shakers of Dallas have always
been bullish on their city over Cow
Town, Dallas seems
to have always prevailed in any joint mention of the two cities.
So, in the mind of editor-publisher turned developer Frank P. Holland,
taking the first three letters of Dallas
and attaching them to the second part of Cow Town's righteous name
made perfect sense.
Holland wanted Dalworth to be truly Dal-worthy of its name. His
Dalworth Realty and Improvement Co., capitalized at $500,000, would
build a model city at the heavily traveled midpoint between Dallas
and Fort Worth.
In the spring of 1910, men using mule- and steam-powered machinery
broke the black soil on an expanse of open prairie 15 miles west
of Dallas and 15 miles
east of Fort Worth.
The realty company would build Dalworth's water and sewage system,
pave its streets, lay its sidewalks, extend gas mains and even throw
in a 100-acre park.
The man behind all this was born in Galveston
in 1852, the son of a German immigrant and a woman originally from
Louisiana. After schooling in Connecticut, Holland returned to Texas
to work as a sewing machine and farm equipment salesman in Austin.
Transitioning from retail to journalism, he became editor of Texas
Siftings, a popular humor publication in the capital city.
Moving to Dallas, Holland
started Texas Farm and Ranch Magazine and turned to local politics.
Elected as a city alderman in 1891, he became mayor four years later.
In that position, he played a role in starting the State Fair of
Texas and in 1905 launched a second publication he named after himself,
Well understanding the power of advertising, Holland placed ads
touting Dalworth in newspapers across the nation and in selected
general circulation magazines. The back cover of the April 1913
issue of The Texas Magazine featured a full-page, two-color ad for
Dalworth Park ("Park" had to be added when the community
got a post office), where "Generous Homesites" could be had for
$1 down with "[the] balance in small sums monthly."
The ad featured a photo of the already impressive Dallas
skyline that showed the city's recently completed viaduct, a concrete
bridge across the Trinity River connecting with what was then known
as the Dallas-Fort Worth Pike. That thoroughfare, the ad continued,
led straight to Dalworth Park.
Like just about everything connected to Dallas
in those days (and still, to some extent) the ad did not lack for
superlatives. Dalworth lay in "...the Garden Spot of Texas--[on]
beautiful, high, rolling land, black and fertile as the Valley of
the Nile." Owning property there offering "city conveniences combined
with country comfort" was an "OPPORTUNITY THAT YOU MUST NOT MISS."
The new community rose west of the small town of Grand
Prairie. In addition to its residences, Dalworth soon had two
churches, a military academy, a broom and mop-making plant, a business
college and one of the first motels in Texas, the Dalworth Inn.
Split by the railroad and electric interurban tracks connecting
Dallas and Fort
Worth, the development covered 1,200 acres. Lots on the north
side of the tracks cost from $450 to $1,200, while lots on the south
side went for only $200 to $400 each. The pricier lots came with
deed restrictions, the less expensive lots did not.
It may have been only so much advertising hype, but the Texas Magazine
ad said the Dalworth Park developers guaranteed "that everything
is exactly as we represent it, and if any purchaser should find,
on personal inspection, within one year, that we have made any misstatements
or misrepresentations" the company wound refund their money plus
six percent interest.
Though Holland died in 1928, his planned community and the corporate
successor of the Dalworth Co. survived the Great Depression. The
1940 U.S. Census showed Dalworth with 542 residents and seven businesses.
Prairie had a population of only 1,600, but that was about to
change. Farsighted as they were, Holland and his two partners had
underestimated the future of Dalworth's close neighbor.
Shortly after the beginning of World
War II, the opening of a large airplane plant at Grand
Prairie kick started a boom. On March 15, 1943, Grand
Prairie annexed Dalworth Park and purchased its water system
and other infrastructure. What Holland had envisioned as a future
great city had become just another neighborhood in Grand
Prairie, which by 1950 had grown into a city of 18,000.
Any chance that the manufactured word Dalworth would be paired with
"area" as a descriptor for the region faded with the planned community.
"The Dallas-Fort Worth area" continued as the common term until
another manufactured word came into vogue. These days, what had
been envisioned as a utopian community is just another neighborhood
in the Metroplex.
"Texas Tales" November
30, 2017 column