Lone star events

History of Handley

Handley was established in 1876 and named after the founder, Confederate Major James Madison Handley of Georgia.  His plantation was seven miles from the center of Fort Worth heading east.  By 1901 Handley had 12 houses and 80 residents.  The town began to gain popularity when the Northern Texas Traction Company purchased land in the southern part of the community (near present day Pioneer Parkway/Rosedale and 820).  They developed a holiday resort called Lake Erie.  Soon after the lake was expanded and included a roller skate rink, dance hall, restaurant and rides on a pier above the water.  The Dream Palace extended out over the lake.  It had an upper floor where people danced to some of the more popular orchestras of the time.  People came to Lake Erie by way of the plush seated, gilt-interiored, chandeliered Interurban.  They had picnics, played tennis, swam and courted on the shores of Lake Erie.

In 1902, the Northern Texas Traction Company linked the city of Dallas to the east and Fort Worth to the west with it's own electric interurban street car line.  In 1905 the street cars were moving at 8mph, but by 1926 the speed had increased to 65 mph.  By 1915 there were 905 residents and 40 businesses in Handley.  In 1946, much to the dismay of many native Handley residents, their beloved city was annexed by Fort Worth and locals say many changes were made overnight.

The famous Lake Erie was absorbed into the northern part of Lake Arlington, and the Traction Company is now operated by Exelon.  The Handley Historic Development Corporation is in the process of reviving a retro-historic version of Handley.   The Handley Cultural Center, located in the 1928 Handley Masonic Lodge building, recently opened to the public.  There is also an active Handley Neighborhood Association.

Many of the older residents still recall when Handley was it's own town, and still refer to this area of far east Fort Worth as "Handley".  The area is drawing  the attention of young families looking for affordable older homes in need of restoration.  The same builders who constructed houses in Handley in the 1900's-1920's also built many of the homes around TCU and the Fairmont district in Fort Worth.   The charming historic homes are still reasonably priced in Handley,  unlike other areas of Fort Worth.  For this reason the popularity of Handley has risen in the past few years.  

I grew up in North Arlington, and lived in Far East Fort Worth since 1994, so I had heard of Handley. We actually moved here in 2012.  I was fortunate enough to acquire the home of Mather Morrison, conductor of the Interurban.  He built his home in 1924 for his wife and four daughters.  Neighbors came from all over to see his indoor water heater!  When I purchased the house from his daughter, Frances Brewer, it had been vacant for some time.  It was like stepping into a time capsule.  There was even a pristine model T in the garage.  Everything was original, from the kitchen counter to the wallpaper. 

I learned a lot from Frances and her sister, Dot, about the history of Handley. Their father built a bridge across the creek in the back of the property.  The school was on the other side of the creek and this created a shortcut for them.  Frances became a teacher and built her family home next door to her parents.  She used the bridge to get to work when she became a teacher.  The girls reminisced about riding the Interurban with their father on Christmas Eve 1934.  This would be the final historic ride on the Interurban.  Mr. Morrison then went into law enforcement.  Many of the antiques you see around the venue originally belonged to the Morrisons.