The Final Days of the KSCS Arlington Studios

   Radio Station 96.3 KSCS moved from Broadcast Hill in Fort Worth, Tx to Arlington in 1994. From 1994 till 2011, the radio station broadcast from studios in Arlington (2221 E. Lamar, Suite 300 to be exact). Originally, the studios were on the 4th floor and the business offices for KSCS were on the third. 

   When the owners started ESPN Radio 103.3, KSCS built new studios on the third floor. They were perhaps the finest studios of their time. During the 17 years that KSCS occupied the Arlington space, they featured the morning duo of Terry Dorsey and Hawkeye. The morning team often featured live performances from some of country music's biggest names. A stage was built to accommodate the acts and even had a separate mike mixer for the performances. The facility was also large enough to host a studio audience of around 20 people.

   Over the years the names of performers who visited Terry and Hawkeye read like a Who's Who of the Country Music and the Texas Music industry. They include Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Brooks and Dunn, Martina, McBride, Travis Tritt, Don Henley, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, The Randy Rogers Band and the Eli Young Band. 

   The office also featured The Red Room, a seperate perfomance area for hosting the KSCS Private Performance Series. They even had a small TV studio complete with green screen for video production. 

   I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fine work of Clay Steely, Neal Peden, Roger Helling and Duane Sedge in creating and maintaining the facility. 

   When KSCS was acquired by Cumulus, the station moved to modern studios in Dallas' Victory Park. This is a video I did depicting the final days of KSCS' Arlington Studios.  






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The Ruins of the Metroplex - Fort Worth's Meadowbrook Drive In

   One of the few remaining drive in theatre screens in Fort Worth can be seen just north of I-30 on Riverside Drive, east of downtown. The former Meadowbook Drive In has been closed over 30 years, but I have always been intrigued to see if anything other than the screen remains.  
   On a whim, I decided to stop and do a little snooping. One of my first surprises was the old marquee that was still intact, although in disrepair. The sign was meant to be seen from Riverside Drive, but trees and brush had long since blocked it from the street. 
   Notice the bicycle on top of the marque


  In the late 1980s after the theater closed, it became home to Cowtown BMX. The marquee was repainted and the bike was added to the top. You can till see a faded portion of the BMX repainting job.


   While I was walking toward the sign I was approached by Bradley, a homeless gentleman who lives in the woods behind the screen. Bradley went to Fort Worth's Poly High School in the early 70's and remembers going to the Meadowbrook Drive In when it cost $1.50 a carload. He informed me that the motorists once drove underneath the marquee and stopped at a now demolished booth to pay admission.


   The grounds are now used as a storage area for dumpsters. The screen remains, and can be seen from I-30. However,  trees have since grown quite high in front of it.



   Bradley showed me where the concession stand used to be. You can see tile from the old bathrooms in the lower part of the photo.


   You have to search for them, but you can still find a few remnants of the speaker posts.



Downtown Fort Worth's Hidden Subterranean Gem

Note:  I wrote this post a while ago when downtown Fort Worth's TCC River East Campus opened. I am constantly surprised how many people are completely unaware of this place. Most confuse it with the large TCC Campus a few blocks away located in the old Radio Shack Headquarters, itself a striking set of buildings

One reason this architectural gem goes unnoticed is that it is below street level. Although it is a block from the Tarrant County Courthouse, thousands of cars pass it everyday and have no idea it is there. I thought this might be a good time to revisit this beautiful and virtually unknown downtown Fort Worth oasis.

I ask you, how could you put a waterfall in the middle of Fort Worth and have no one notice?




A view of the subterranean campus at night, looking south toward Sundance Square



Downtown Fort Worth's New Hidden Subterranean Gem



From the street level, it's hard to tell what treasures are a level below

   This month, Tarrant County College's new downtown Trinity River East Campus opened for the 2011 fall semester. The new campus comes with a lot of public relations baggage; massive cost overruns, design changes, levee problems and civic protests.

   At one point during construction, Tarrant County College decided it would be cheaper to buy the Radio Shack Headquarters rather than continue with a plan that included a bridge over the Trinity River to another part of the campus. Even though the bridge and north campus were scrapped, the architect decided to keep the campus mainly below street level. At one point Ed Bass passionately argued for the design to have more interaction at street level and paid for another architect to offer a redesign.
   Bass' idea was rejected and the campus was built mostly below street level, even though the river bridge it was to connect to, was no longer needed.

   Like a lot of people who have been following the construction soap opera, I had my doubts about this new campus. Especially when looking from the Tarrant County Courthouse, you can see very little of the facility.

Looking north at Belknap Street, this is all that is visible of the campus.
      It is a shame that the campus is so hidden from the street, because it really is a gem. Sadly, most people who work in downtown or drive by on Belknap Street will probably never realize the stunning buildings that rest below.


   The campus tries to compensate for its subterranean design with an entry plaza on Weatherford Street which includes a waterfall that continues into a stream flowing throughout the campus.

The Waterfall at street level continues through the campus and ends with a second waterfall (below)

   As you walk closer to the Trinity River, you begin to realize just how big these buildings are. Since you see very little from the street level, it's hard to imagine that the campus consists of 5 and 6 story buildings


   The buildings design takes full advantage of natural light which creates an open and desirable learning environment.

The Allied Health Building features a glassed in concourse and a lecture hall that overlooks the river.
      But because of the many levels below the street, the campus needs a variety of staircases, walkways, bridges and elevators that create a Rube Goldberg effect. Lost students wandering around trying to find their classes seem to be a distinct possibility.

One of the myriad of stairs, bridges and elevators that connect the facility.
   That being said, the Trinity River East Campus is quite beautiful and is truly a gem in downtown Fort Worth. It's an urban oasis that links downtown to the Trinity River. Sadly, as Ed Bass warned, the subterranean design insures that most people will never know it's there.

The view from Belknap Street looking toward the river.
 
The contoured cement walkways gives the campus a cozy feel.

The Welcome Center features a coffee shop that opens on street level and overlooks the entry water feature.

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Behind This Wall - The Hidden Section of Fort Worth's Water Garden




What's behind this wall on Lancaster Avenue and why should we tear it down?

   In 2001, The Highway Department removed the outdated portion of Interstate 30 over Lancaster Avenue, rebuilding it on the south side of the old T&P Terminal. 

The east bound lanes of Lancaster Avenue, in the shadow of the old freeway. 


   With the removal of the freeway and the acquisition of 4 additional acres of right of way,  the city pounced on an opportunity to revitalize Lancaster into a grand avenue. Sidewalks were widened and landscaped. A series of dramatic sculptures adorned the median. Condos and apartments popped up and future developments are actively being pursued. 

Lancaster Avenue during the early days of revitalization.

   Even though the city worked passionately to remove any sign of the interstate, one relic remained. A wall on the north side of Lancaster between Main and Houston Streets. At one time the wall butted up against the street, keeping what was on the other side separate from the traffic outside.
   

The wall between Houston and Main on Lancaster Ave.
What I saw when I peeked over the wall.

   I decided to climb the small ledge and peek over the wall. Behind it laid one of the few, if only, green spaces in downtown Fort Worth, an overlooked area of the Water Gardens called The Stage. I asked a bicycle cop patrolling the area if many people used this lawn. He replied that a few people come here at lunch, but he couldn't remember any organized activity ever using the lawn or the stage. 



   At one time, walling off this area made sense. Lancaster Avenue was a pedestrians nightmare, noisy, dark and filled with the fumes trapped by the overhead freeway. The Water Gardens were designed to be the antithesis to the noise and exhaust.
   But the southern end of downtown has changed immensely sense the Gardens were designed. Not only has the freeway been moved, but apartments, hotels, condos, landscaped sidewalks and a law school are now neighbors with the park. It might be time to examine tearing down the wall on the Lancaster and altering the area.

PROS:


1:  The park has entrances on every side but the Lancaster Avenue side. With the freeway gone and the addition of new development, it make sense to open up the remaining side.

2: There is a lack of green space in downtown. One can argue that this space already exists and this wouldn't add any additional space. But this beautiful area is hidden. Even if you're in the Water Gardens, you could easily over look it,  being that it is on the other side of a large feature called The Mountain.
    Removing the wall would not only create an inviting public space, it would also create more access to the park.
Most Water Garden visitors never find lawn, unless they follow these steps behind The Mountain
CONS:


1. The Water Gardens were designed by noted architect Phillip Johnson and it would be wrong to alter his original design. An interesting argument but not a valid one. The Water Gardens have already been altered for safety issues. And it had a major alteration when the Convention Center was expanded on the west side, creating a new entrance into the Gardens.

2: Altering the Water Gardens would create added cost to an already stretched city budget. True, the city budget is a bit tight, but the park was created with funds from the Amon Carter Foundation. Plus downtown as TIF funds that can be used for the project. There are ways to acquire funding.

   It's a simple project that could yield beautiful results.

The newest entrance to the Water Garden, created after the Convention Center expanded.

The Water Garden's Quiet Pool

The Aerating Pool, which was also altered for safety concerns.


The signature Active Pool. 



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Dallas' Hidden Oasis; aka 'The Redneck Country Club'

At the end of this overgrown, bumpy road in east Dallas, you'll find the 'Redneck Country Club"

   Let me start by saying that I love to swim. I carry trunks in my car, just in case the opportunity arises, lest I be unprepared. Not having my own swimming pool though leaves me few options.
   I could go to the public pool in Lakewood. But an unaccompanied adult male hanging at the public pool, that looks a little weird.

  Being new to East Dallas,  a neighbor suggested I try the 'Redneck Country Club'. The RCC is the nickname given to the Eagles Lodge 3108 which graciously allows their east Dallas neighbors to use their pool for a mere $7.00. The only problem, even though it's really close to the Dallas Arboretum, you'd only find it if you had really good directions.

Follow this obscure road and look for the sign below

When you see this, you know you've found it. 
  Once you do find it, you may balk at the $7.00 entrance fee. But it's well worth it when you consider that the Eagles Lodge has a liquor license. This is a really big deal in east Dallas, which had been dry for over 50 years. Not only can you buy a beer and lay out by the pool, but you can also buy mixed drinks! And you don't have to show your unicard, like you did at the only other bar in East Dallas, Chili's.

The Oasis of East Dallas

   Be prepared for a scene unlike any in Dallas. First, you must walk through the Eagles Lodge Bar to pay and get your adult wrist band. Be prepared to feel as if you walked back to 1971. The photos of past Eagles presidents look down upon you and proudly proclaim that the city's smoking ordinance isn't enforced here.

   Out by the pool you'll notice perhaps the most unusual mix of people in Dallas. Families with young kids, retired Eagles Lodge member and tattooed hipsters who found the last place in North Texas to smoke. (warning, there is a lot of smoking here, just like in 1971). But who cares; the weather's hot and the pool and the beer are cold. Come on over and enjoy a swim. 

   To find the Eagles Lodge, turn east onto Lakeland Drive from Garland Road (across for the Dallas  Arboretum). Cross the train tracks and then right on Arturo Road. Take Arturo past the overgrown vacant lots, the home with the horse pen and abandoned house, to the dirt road into the Lodge grounds.  Or follow this map. Park anywhere.

   For more information on Eagle Lodge 3108, click here



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Downtown Fort Worth's Forgotten Gem


   (Note: This Friday I will be participating in Over the Edge, a fundraiser for Downtown Fort Worth Inc. The rehabilitation on this forgotten downtown park is one of the project DFWI is working on. This story was originally published in January 2011)


   Can you have a city park designed by a prominent landscape architect and have nobody notice when it closes?  The answer is yes, which is easy to understand when you consider that few people have ever noticed that the park even existed. What makes this story so unbelievable is that the park is on a busy downtown corner across the street from the Tarrant County Courthouse.



   Heritage Park was opened on the corner of Belknap and Main in downtown Fort Worth to commemorate the founding of the original military post in 1849. The park, designed by noted architect Lawrence Halprin, opened in 1976. It featured numerous water features intermingled with shaded paths and a cantilevered walkway built over the bluff overlooking the Trinity River.

  But even though the park was located on a busy intersection, it was one with little foot traffic. Few people noticed Heritage Park. And even fewer noticed in 2007 when the park fell into disrepair and was closed.


   It's been three years since the park has closed. But there is little public uproar to reopen the grounds. I contacted the city of Fort Worth and received a reply from Fernando Costa, the Assistant City Manager.  He wrote that the city is working with Downtown Fort Worth Inc. to raise funds to repair and upgrade the park. But in the past three years, little has been done. Meanwhile, the park is slowly being taking over by nature.

The cantilevered walkway can still be seen on the bluff above the Trinity, even though the trees  have begun to block the view. 

The Water Wall behind chain link.

An ironic caption 'The Vision Endures" on the sign outside the park

A Water Wall that includes the map of the original settlement sits behind chain link.

An urban oasis on the other side of the fence.

A diminished view of the park from the Main Street Street Bridge.

The Forgotten Mansions of Fair Park



   That's right, I said Fair Park.

   Fair Park, as in Corny Dogs, Big Tex and 'Oh my God, is my car going to be here when I get back?"

   Many feel that Fair Park is not the safest part of Dallas. But did you know that some of the most beautiful homes in Dallas are neighbors to the Fair Grounds?



   If you take I-45 and exit Martin Luther King Boulevard to get to Fair Park, you might have noticed some rather large older homes on MLK that have been converted to businesses.
   This was my first clue to take a left and see if there might be any other large homes in the area. Much to my surprise, I found a hidden gem, the Park Row - South Boulevard Historic District.


   These two streets were once home to the most prominent Jewish families in Dallas during the first part of the twentieth century. Anchoring this neighborhood was the Temple Emanu-el at the corner of Harwood and South Blvd. A few blocks away sat Forest Avenue High School, the finest and best equipped high school in the city.


   The community was home to some of Dallas' most prominent citizens, like the Sanger Brothers (Sanger - Harris Department Stores) and Linz family (Linz Jewelers). Many of the homes were designed by the most noted architects of the era.


   After World War II, the neighborhood declined rapidly. US - 175 was built, splitting Park Row and South Boulevard in two. Temple Emanu-el moved to a new location in North Dallas. One by one, the Jewish families left for Highland Park and North Dallas.


   Some of the homes were bought by distinguished members of the black community, others became boarding houses, and some were torn down or simply fell into disrepair.


   In the 1970's the city of Dallas designated Park Row - South Boulevard as a historic district. Many of the homes have been restored to their prior elegance. Others have either decayed due to neglect or have simply vanished.

Not all of the homes have been restored.  (below) The lonely front steps to no where are the only clue that a house once sat here.

     Each year, hundreds of thousands visit Fair Park via I-45 , but few realize that these historic homes are just blocks away from the Cotton Bowl exit. (Sadly, the vacant Neo- Classical Temple Emanu-el was torn down in 1972 when I-45 was built) But there are still a few clues that this once was one of Dallas most exclusive neighborhoods.


   The majestic campus of Forest Avenue High School still sits today on Martin Luther King Boulevard, renamed James Madison High. The Linz Mansion on the corner of Ervay and South Boulevard is still there, but operates today as a funeral home and many of the fine homes of Park Row and South Boulevard have survived. Next time you head out to the Fair, take a few minutes to drive through the district and discover a part of Dallas that few State Fair goers have ever seen.







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