By Todd Camp
Nestled in Fort Worth’s Near Southside on the eastern edge of the Fairmount neighborhood is a small block of homes on a shady, quiet private drive called Chase Court.
Bordered by Hemphill on the east, Jefferson on the south, Lipscomb on the west, and Allen on the north, the tiny, park-like neighborhood’s atmosphere sits serenely in contrast to the busy traffic on Hemphill and the din of Fort Worth’s downtown just minutes away.
Setting Chase Court apart from nearby homes are ornate cement pillars built in 1906 narrowing the east and west entryways with black, ornamental metal fences. The columns once boasted large, brass orbs which are said to have been donated for the scrap drive efforts for World War II. Six-feet-wide esplanades run at intervals through the center of the Court, filled with cedar trees and crepe myrtle.
The houses sit back from the center drive in post-Victorian splendor with many of these stately old edifices built in the early 1920s previously serving as showplace homes for captains of industry — doctors, aviators, preachers, lawyers and judges (including a former Texas Supreme Court judge). The current residents include former military, financial workers, writers, business folk, retirees and families.
The area predates the 1920s, of course, going as far back as 1890 when the entire neighborhood served as the estate of Edwin Elisha Chase, an entrepreneur, banker and investor (as well as the neighborhood’s namesake). The focal point of the Chase estate was an extravagantly designed Victorian home called Bellevue Hall, a three-story palace possessing an elegance unheard of in its day. There was also a two-story barn and stone stable as well as a huge windmill described at the time as “the most ornamented of all windmill installations in America.”
The house burned down in 1893 and a far less ostentatious version was rebuilt in 1900. It was then rotated and relocated into one of the newly platted 14 lots when the Court became Fort Worth’s earliest planned subdivision. Sadly, the home once again burned to the ground in the mid-1960s and is an open lot to this day.
All that remains of the old Chase estate is the original rock from his barn currently lining the walls of the carriage house at No. 9 Chase Court, which has been my home since 1995. Having lived in the Court for more than a quarter of a century, I’m the neighborhood’s longest resident, and I’ve watched the surrounding area change from a dicey, criminally adjacent concern to a thriving, highly desirable part of town. Documenting its history started as a personal passion that quickly evolved into an obsession.
Today, Chase Court continues to attract fans of old architecture who regularly stroll down its sidewalks and admire the nine remaining homes, pausing to read the state historical markers at the front of the neighborhood and outside the Dr. Clay S. Johnson House at No. 3.
When the neighborhood first appeared on Historic Fort Worth’s Most Endangered Places list in 2005, it was described as “an unspoiled pocket of urban charm in an area long commercialized … It is harmonious and dignified, and its restful milieu has endeared it to the hearts of city planners … as a spot uniquely worth preserving as a ‘traditional area’ in the city’s future plans for preservation of the past.”
But to those of us who reside here, we simply think of Chase Court as home.
Todd Camp is a former journalist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He’s currently working on books about the history of his 125-year-old neighborhood, as well as the history of Fort Worth’s LGBTQIA+ community.
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Total population: 3,547
Female: 50% | Male: 50%
80 and older: 3%
No degree: 12%
High school: 22%
Some college: 18%
Bachelor’s degree: 30%
White: 40% | Asian: 1% | Hispanic: 44% | Black: 14% | Two or more: 1%
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