I wrote this article for the Landmark Preservation Commission and our Historic Preservation Month efforts. It first appeared on the City of Arlington’s website. It was also my first time to be published on their website, which is pretty cool! I wrote another article for them about the Bankhead Highway that I will post soon.
They didn’t use my photos on their website, though, and that’s OK. I must admit that some of theirs were better than mine. I’ll use mine here.
So, here’s a funny story about this. I was working on another blog post and needed more information. I searched the Internet and found an article that I thought might be helpful. I clicked on it, not knowing it was the one I wrote or that they had published it yet. Imagine my surprise — and delight — when I saw that it was my article!
Lastly, I’ve been using the phrase “Historic Preservation Month” on my blog because that’s what someone else used. I found out later that it’s also referred to as “National Preservation Month” and sometimes shortened to “Preservation Month.” I’m sticking with “Historic Preservation Month” for consistency!
Historic Preservation Month: Downtown/UTA
by Jason Sullivan
May is Historic Preservation Month! It’s a month dedicated to preserving places that have historical significance. Let’s visit some of the historical sites in Downtown Arlington. Many have Texas Historical Markers or are City of Arlington Landmarks.
Knapp Heritage Park contains three of the oldest structures in Arlington. It includes two cabins from the mid-1800s and a 1910 schoolhouse.
The First Baptist Church of Arlington began in the 1870s at Johnson Station. When the railroad arrived north of there in 1876, the church moved into the new area. Fire destroyed the original sanctuary, but the church would rebuild.
The First United Methodist Church of Arlington began as a wooden church in 1885. Today, it has over 5,000 members. It’s a United Methodist Historic Site, City Landmark, and it has a Texas Historical Marker.
Arlington has two historic districts. Both are in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Old Town Historic District includes nearly seven blocks of late 19th and early 20th century homes. It’s located at the northern end of the Original Town Plat. Its boundaries generally include Sanford, North, Elm, and Oak Streets.
The South Center Street Historic District includes a row of Craftsman-inspired bungalows. Located in the 500 and 600 blocks of South Center Street, these homes represent the finest group of early 20th century bungalows remaining in Arlington.
One of the oldest remaining commercial structures in Arlington is the historic Vandergriff Building. Built in 1928, it is near the center of the city’s original boundaries. The building is a City Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Worthington National Bank is another City Landmark. Built in 1939, it served as the City of Arlington Post Office until 1964. The building was restored in 2001 and became a bank.
Arlington Music Hall opened in 1950 as a movie theatre and is used as a performance venue today.
On the edge of downtown is the UTA Campus. It may look like a modern college campus, but it has a history of its own. The school itself dates to 1895 when it started as Arlington College, although not a “college” in today’s sense. The school would go through many name changes and evolutions over the years before becoming known as UTA. Some of the buildings on campus are more than 100 years old — Ransom Hall dates to 1919. Arlington’s first high school, in 1922, was located at the corner of Cooper and Abram Streets. The building is now part of the UTA Campus.
Today, there are fewer historical buildings than there used to be. Without preservation efforts, these buildings will slowly (or quickly) begin to fade away. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. More than old buildings, these structures help tell the story of Arlington’s early days and how it evolved. The buildings may be from the past, but they deserve a place in our future.
Want to visit these historic places and see them for yourself? Here are the addresses.
- Knapp Heritage Park – 201 W. Front Street
- First Baptist Church of Arlington – 301 S. Center Street
- First United Methodist Church of Arlington – 313 N. Center Street
- Old Town Historic District – the area of Sanford, North, Elm, and Oak Streets
- South Center Street Historic District – 500 and 600 blocks of S. Center Street
- Vandergriff Building – 255 N. Center Street
- Worthington National Bank – 200 W. Main Street
- Arlington Music Hall – 224 N. Center Street
- University of Texas at Arlington – 701 S. Nedderman Drive
This article first appeared on the City of Arlington’s website on May 3, 2021. It was written for the City of Arlington’s Landmark Preservation Commission.
Some of my content was used on Downtown Arlington’s website on May 5, 2021, in their “Stories” section. Downtown Arlington linked to my article. Good stuff!
Blog and photos by Jason S. Sullivan, 05-20-21