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Fort Worth Flashback: City’s elite partied at Lake Como resort

Posted July 13, 2012

lake como

Lake Como, about five miles west of Fort Worth’s Central Business District, provided a refreshing break from summer temperatures for many Fort Worth families in the latter part of the 1800s.

Fort Worth Realtor Wini Klein researched the history of the lake and provided this information:

H.B. Chamberlain Investment Co of Denver built the Lake Como dam in 1889. The area included a beautiful recreation resort with pavilion, casino and amusement rides and was named for Como, Italy.

A power plant was also constructed on the lake to furnish power for the streetcar line that provided transportation between the lake and Ye Arlington Inn, on the present corner of Merrick and Crestline.

In 1894, the inn burned down and Chamberlain Investment Co. failed in the financial panic of 1893, forcing the company to sell the resort.

The lake was a center of young peoples’ festivities with pageants, water carnivals and fish bakes. Lillian Russell, an actress and singer popular in the Gay Nineties, visited the lake and was impressed by the large body of water.

After the sale of the resort, the lake continued to be the center of events, such as the 1906 “A Night in Venice,” which featured boats decorated with lights and named for the belles of the city. Miss Imogene Sanguinet’s boat won first prize, and a dance followed with 250 people attending.

As a result of the financial panic and resort sale, lots in the Como area sold for very little money. With the land to the west of the lake so cheap, the domestic servants who worked in affluent Arlington Heights and River Crest homes took advantage of the opportunity to own property near their employment, buying and developing the area beginning around 1906. They were far enough out of town to enable them to have gardens and some livestock. A real sense of community developed.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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