PRESS RELEASE – The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is pleased to announce an exciting and significant addition to its collection—a wealth of artifacts and historical treasures from the renowned Leonard’s Department Store. This extraordinary transition marks a momentous occasion in the preservation of Fort Worth’s rich history and retail heritage.
Leonard’s Department Store, founded in 1918 by brothers Marvin and Obadiah Leonard, transformed the shopping experience in Fort Worth and became a beloved icon of the city. With a humble beginning as Leonard Brothers Dry Goods Company along Houston Street, it rapidly evolved into a mega-complex that covered seven city blocks in downtown Fort Worth. Leonard’s was more than just a department store; it was a one-stop shopping center that offered everything from farm and ranch equipment to clothing, furniture, and even a wide range of house-branded products.
Some of the standout features of Leonard’s Department Store included:
- Unique promotions such as sending birthday cards and baby shoes to new parents, creating a strong bond with the community.
- The first escalator south of the Mason Dixon line and the world’s only privately owned and operated subway, the M&O subway, which carried customers directly to the store’s doors.
- Extensive store-brand offerings, including Leonard’s brand cigars, lawn mowers, motor oil, and much more.
- Exceptional Christmas window displays, attracting visitors from all around the region and a Santa visit that has continued to this day!
Leonard’s Department Store was sold to the Tandy Corporation in 1967. Tandy sold to Dillard’s Department Stores in 1974 and eventually the Leonard’s name was lost, but its legacy continued to live on in the memories of generations of Fort Worth residents.
The Leonard’s Department Store Museum, created by Marty Leonard, daughter of Marvin Leonard, began with a 1936 Leonard’s Speedster wagon and expanded into a remarkable collection of memorabilia and regalia that tells the story of Leonard’s and its impact on Fort Worth. The museum is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, and community engagement that defined the Leonard brothers and their iconic store.
The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is honored to be entrusted with the care and preservation of this unique collection. By transitioning these artifacts to our collection, we aim to ensure that the legacy of Leonard’s Department Store continues to inspire and educate future generations. Thanks to a generous endowment from Marty Leonard, the Leonard’s collection will be cared for by a part time collections coordinator. Visitors will soon have the opportunity to explore the rich history of Leonard’s and its integral role in the life of Fort Worth throughout the 20th century.
In honor of its storied history, the Leonard’s Department Store Museum will host the last Santa at the Museum this holiday season. Visit the Leonard’s Museum to take your photo with Santa on Saturday, December 9th and Saturday, December 16th. Learn more about Santa at the Leonard’s Museum.