[This is a five part story that explains the Rosedale Renaissance project in various stages. Please read all the stories to fully understand this process.]

Like many parts of the country, integration brought a change to the Polytechnic Heights community.

Graffic laden wall representing the downfall of the once affluent Polytechnic Heights community.

Graffic laden wall representing the downfall of the once affluent Polytechnic Heights community.

Dr. Sara Horsfall, associate professor of sociology, has a book of collected articles she edited with her students. The book A Neighborhood Portrait: Polytechnic Heights of Inner City Fort Worth is located in the West Library.

“Suburbia development happened in Polytechnic Heights and across the country in the ‘50s,” Horsfall said.

In her article, she describes the area as being a “respectable and prosperous middle class neighborhood” for most of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the 1980s that it became “an area of high crime, high poverty, racial tensions and general decay and decline,” she said in the article.

“In the mid 1980’s Polytechnic Heights was one of the worst inner city areas in the nation, according to the 2000 census,” Horsfall said.

Currently, the Polytechnic area is much safer despite how it looks. Horsfall said she would walk down any street in the neighborhood during the day. She also points out that current statistics show much less crime happening in the community.

“People have the idea that it’s a crime-ridden area, but it’s not,” Horsfall said.

“My student’s work shows that women are not afraid to live here,” Horsfall said. “If [crime] was an issue women would be afraid.”

Dunson said Wesleyan has always had an important part in the Polytechnic community.

“Texas Wesleyan, although it has changed in appearance over the years, always played a vital role in the neighborhood,” Dunson said.

Originally farmland in the 1850s, the family that cultivated the land made way for a college named after the area called Polytechnic College. The college eventually paired with Wesleyan because of hardships after the Depression. As the neighborhood grew, more businesses were erected, according to the article.

The Dillow home has been a recent topic regarding a demolition project proposed by Wesleyan. The Star-Telegram has released articles describing the Dillow house situation. A student article describing this in more detail is scheduled to be released in the Rambler.

Dillow made other contributions to the community in addition to the historic Dillow house as outlined in the City Council meeting report.

One block west of the Dillow house is Burge Hardware. It has been there since the Polytechnic area was built. Paul Meadows, the current owner, says he think they have managed to stay in business because they belong in the area.

“We have a particular niche of just the neighborhood in general,” Meadows said. “We own the building and everything in it so we make all the decisions.”

Dunson said he remembers going to the hardware store with his dad.

“I would visit the hardware store with my dad,” Dunson said. “I recall sitting around an old cast iron wood stove on cold days listening to the old timers tell stories.”

Burge Hardware has been on Rosedale, across from Wesleyan, since 1913. Currently the windows are boarded up and “yes we are open” is spray painted on the outside of them.

Meadows said after repeated complaints to the owners of the other properties about their windows being broken out and after vandals broke one of his, he boarded his entire storefront.

“I wrote the president of Wesleyan and the mayor about the broken windows on all the other properties but there was no response,” Meadows said. “After one of my $400 windows was broken, I went and bought $1500 worth of wood and spent an entire weekend boarding them all up.”

Meadows said after he boarded the windows, the fire department, health department, mayor and other city officials and government departments came out the get him to take them down. He said he refused to do so.

Meadows said took full ownership of the store after Paul Burge, the last generation of Burge family owners, died about two years ago.

“Paul Burge and my parents were friends,” Meadows said. “I was told that I was named after him.” “I came in the store a couple times, he told me he had an offer I can’t refuse and said I could have the store if he ever left.”

Meadows remembers businesses that once surrounded the hardware store. He said there was a bank, Ashburn’s ice cream, Mott’s, and a dry cleaners (currently where the Boy’s and Girl’s club is). He also remembers when the neighborhood changed.

“I think the demise of the neighborhood happened when there was white flight,” Meadows said. “Which I thought was ridiculous because my first girlfriend was black.” “I think both races [white and black] could’ve worked together to keep the area alive.”

Meadows said he would take the boards down if more businesses come to Rosedale alongside his. He would feel like his store is not a target forvandalism because the storefront wouldn’t look so abandoned.

Meadows says he look forward to the plans of rebuilding Rosedale and would like to see the roundabout in front of Wesleyan. He says the plans to rebuild the areas have been initiated many times and hopes they follow through with this one.

“I went to see a roundabout in north Texas and thought it was a pretty amazing sight,” Meadows said. “It looked like people were going to run into each other.” ‘But I have seen these plans to rebuild the area come and go many times.”

Previous post

History of Rosedale, Polytechnic community

Next post

Catalyst for Change

Candace Johnson

Candace Johnson

4 Comments

  1. Eff
    May 20, 2013 at 11:56 pm — Reply

    I would love to see Polytechnic Heights prosper and become what it used to be or better!!

    The change is in us!
    We have to help make that happen
    I would love to get a group of youth or adults, help clean vandalism and trash
    It’s time to wake poly up!

  2. December 15, 2013 at 1:50 pm — Reply

    I grew up in Poly, lived on East Crenshaw from 1964 to 1973. We were one of the white families who “flew”. I was just a child so didn’t really understand much of the racial talk. But I do remember that my mother didn’t want me bussed Dee Mac Rae Elementary in 2nd grade to Sunrise Elementary. I tried it, spent a week riding the bus to Sunrise. It was awful. I had to remember which bus was mine and wake up earlier in the mornings. I wanted to go to school close to home again. So my parents made a financial sacrifice and enrolled me at Holy Name Catholic School on Birchhill Road. One of the best decisions they ever made. The school was multiracial, and I have many fond memories of the two years I spent there. Unfortunately the school closed in the ’80s. The story of Polytechnic Heights is all too common in our country.

  3. A. Venegas
    November 30, 2016 at 10:56 am — Reply

    Glad someone wrote a book touching on this subject. My father moved us to Poly in 83 because we couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. Several of our neighbors were the original post-WW2 families that built houses here in the boom – all were empty nesters as their kids moved off to suburbs far away. Needless to say, bussing chased off any remaining young white families. Unfortunately, my family didn’t have money to send my sister and I to fancy private schools, so I got bussed to the crappy schools like Mitchell Blvd, M.I. Logan, M.M. Walton and got in fights with the black boys every week because I was different. I finally got a break when my mom put me in a Montessori, then Magent, school – which I call “paper integration”. Bus a bunch of white kids to a crappy school with black kids so it looks like integration, but segregate the whites into special (better) classes as soon as they walk in the door. Ridiculous.
    Politicians helped destroy Poly and then sat back and watched as failed policies kept destroying the schools and the community.

  4. Chado
    August 4, 2017 at 6:12 am — Reply

    I was driving around Fort Worth in I think 2004 while visiting my daughter, and came across a street with a big “Pollywood” sign stretching over it. I moved here in 2012,and have been looking for it with no luck. Is the polytechnic area the place to look?

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *