Ask any Terrell Heights about their fondest memories growing up in the well-manicured, tree-lined tight-knit community and many will recall the juxtaposition of quaint hole-in-the-wall clubs with steepled red brick centennial churches off Rosedale. It's apparent that this first middle-class Black community in Fort Worth holds special significance to all who know its beautifully quilted history.
Terrell Heights residents were exclusively white until around 1900, when well-to-do African Americans began purchasing properties and moving in. Among the handful that helped usher in the new wave of African American homeownership was politician turned entrepreneur William “Gooseneck Bill” McDonald. Shortly after 1906, McDonald was able to help increase landownership primarily due to his prominence and leadership at the Fraternal Bank and Trust Company. The bank would extend lines of credit to many African Americans who up until then did not have access to purchase homes with electricity, running water and sewer lines and telephone services.
The once bourgeoisie neighborhood that consisted mostly of doctors, lawyers and professors soon moved to suburban residences, leaving blue-collar workers and other working classes to inhabit the once-thriving area. Nightclubs that once occupied the area, such as the contemporary two-story Aquarium Club or The Zanzibar, were replaced by restaurants and other mom-and-pop businesses over time. Long-time resident Damon Evans grew up on Glen Garden Drive, north of Evans Plaza. He vividly recalls attending Morningside Elementary, riding his bicycle with friends along busy streets, and spending sweltering summer evenings playing basketball at Hillside Recreational Center. He also fondly remembers frequenting popular hot spot Drake’s Cafeteria for delicious soul food.
Today Historical landmarks like Evans Avenue Plaza and the Lenora Rolla Heritage Center Museum help to preserve the African American historical contributions of Tarrant County. Although Drake’s closed years ago, not far from its busy Rosedale Ave location is a restaurant that’s quickly gaining just as much popularity as the former did in its heyday – Smoke-A-Holics BBQ at 1417 Evans Ave. Mama E’s BBQ and Homestyle Cooking located at the corner of Rosedale and South Freeway. More restaurants and businesses border the streets of what now is considered a part of “Historic Southside” and even more are being developed with upcoming plans to revitalize the area. In 2019, a Texas State Historical Marker was unveiled in the neighborhood.
In 2019, Hoque Global was selected by the City of Fort Worth as the master developer of several vacant lots in the area. The firm prides itself on making positive impacts in the communities they work with. Hoque's website touts that the development “will add to and honor the rich cultural history of the neighborhood while serving as a beacon to uplift the community and bring opportunities for all.” Exciting things are in the works for this beloved historic area. Follow along with the progress at Hoque Global’s real estate page.