A new monument commemorates the history of the Lake Como neighborhood and the man who helped create it.
Wilburn’s granddaughter, Lue Cynthia Wilburn Bethea, remembers her grandfather would wake her in the middle of the night to keep the weekly afloat. “We had to fold them papers. We would go out the next day and then we had to sell them,” she said.
“I just remember so many good things about him. He was a man of the community and a man of the family,“ she added.
The Fort Worth Public Art project was introduced at Lake Como Park on Dec. 4. The artists, Iowa-based duo Matt Niebuhr and David Dahlquist, designed and created the sculpture with feedback from the community.
The sculpture is made of weathered steel and is meant to oxidize and be coated in a vibrant orange rust over time resembling the fragility and aging of newspaper pages. The shape of the sculpture symbolizes a frame looking out into Lake Como, and excerpts from The Lake Como Weekly are etched into the steel. The piece recognizes the establishment of Lake Como Park and the traditions that came with it.
The artists and project team researched and designed the sculpture with the feedback from the community. “Do Something Good For Your Neighbor” is the first project from Fort Worth Public Art’s Lake Como Public Art Master Plan put together by artists Anitra Blayton and Mel Ziegler.
“The first step is establishing a project core team which is essential to each public art project,” Project Manager Michelle Richardson said. “So, part of that master plan is thinking about this place as ‘Commemoration Park,’ a place to honor and recognize pioneers, legends and heroes of the community.”
Fort Worth civic booster and Fort Worth Star-Telegram creator Amon G. Carter donated 70 acres of the property, including the lake, on Oct. 29, 1951, to the City of Fort Worth to be “developed and used as a Negro park.”
In 1985, William H. Wilburn met with the Lake Como Planning Committee to find a way to fix vandalism that was happening in the neighborhood, said John Hudson, who chairs the Lake Como Planning Committee. Hudson is also a lifelong resident of Lake Como.
“He felt like people that were moving into the community didn’t know the history of the community. And so he said we needed to come up with a way to commemorate those who made this community possible. And that way, maybe, he said they will learn to respect the community,” Hudson said.
Hudson was William H. Wilburn’s mentee and has carried his legacy through the years. Hudson is recognized by his community as a pioneer, too.
Chairman of Fort Worth Public Arts and resident of Lake Como Estrus Tucker threw newspapers for William H. Wilburn growing up. Tucker said he threw them for 15 cents; he received 5 cents; his boss received 5 cents and the publisher received 5 cents.
The sculpture features two hand-carved white oak benches that invite people to sit and conversate.
“Art is for all of us. It invites us to these spaces for the chance that we might start looking at each other, and communicating with one another,” Tucker said. “And that can change our city. It can change our world.”
Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.