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Texas | Columns | "Texas Tales"

Ever Heard of Dalworth?

by Mike Cox
Mike Cox

Naturally, 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, Holland's Magazine.

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. Nearby Grand 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.

© Mike Cox
"Texas Tales" November 30, 2017 column

TX - Dallas County 1920s map
1920s map showing Dalworth/Dalworth Park (east of Grand Prairie)
in Dallas County near Tarrant County line

Courtesy Texas General Land Office

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