National Register Historic District
City of Fort Worth Historic District
This collection of twelve buildings was originally built over a period of years during a time when Handley was an important transportation connection for the Interurban light rail system and the Texas and Pacific Railroad, which had a passenger depot directly across the street. The Handley businesses served commuters in addition to local customers. On the weekends from 1910 through late 1920s, the Handley business district benefitted from the patrons of the Interurban trolley park on nearby Lake Erie, which was a very popular destination.
The majority of the buildings are typical early 20th century American architecture with pressed tin ceilings, transoms over the doors, and similar features. Although they appear as a contiguous façade, they were built over seven different construction periods between 1910 and 1933. The District also includes the Handley Feed Store across the street (described as National Folk style), and a two-story Folk Victorian house and two Handley post offices along Handley Drive.
The building at 6523 E Lancaster Avenue (on the corner with Handley Drive) is the newest of the group, constructed in 1933. The exterior façade is sandstone with a petrified wood band along the parapet and on the side of the building, reportedly brought to the site from Glen Rose, Texas. It was divided into three bays and served for many years as a drug store, a restaurant, and a barber shop. Its owner was a pharmacist named O.D. Stevens, a notorious criminal who masterminded a mail train robbery in Fort Worth, netting seven mail pouches with the equivalent of $1.2 million today. The building is known today as the O.D. Stevens Commercial Building. Stevens later had a falling out with two of the men and a brother of one of the men who conducted the heist. He murdered the three and served time in Alcatraz as a result of his murder conviction.
The buildings today are used for a variety of products and services related to planning a wedding, and have collectively become known as the Wedding District. In 2002, an application was made to Department of the Interior to declare the Central Handley business district as a National Historic District, which was approved and will serve to protect the historic integrity of the group of buildings.
Text provided by Daniel Haase.
Early 20th Century American
Business District/Commercial Buildings