Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Redemption of The Hill

Sitting almost halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, lies what was the sleepy suburban town of Arlington,Texas, but things have changed there since  three major entertainment venues have moved to town: Six Flags Over Texas (a theme park), Ranger (baseball ) and ATnT stadiums (football). Although, that is not what this post is about.

Over the weekend I went on a tour, in Arlington, on the grounds of a small Baptist College that for years has been hiding it's infamous past. A place that most folks, including me, just drove by without giving it a second glance.

Oh, we may have admired the old rock gates.

You see, before the college opened in the nineteen fifties the Top O'Hill Terrace, as it was called, was in the late twenties, thirties and forties  the most exclusive and notorious underground gambling casino in the country. Here not only the wealthiest millionaires paid a visit, but  Hollywood's finest rubbed elbows with known gangsters.
The list of patrons and or entertainers included some very well known names of the time. Here is a partial list of  a few others that I didn't snap a photo of:  Frank Sinatra, Robert Young, John Wayne, Benny Goodman, Bob Hope, Mary Martin, Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Jack Dempsey, W.C. Fields, Jack Ruby, Gene Autry, Al Capone..and a host of others.

Your trip to Arlington, at that time, might include nearby horse racing, and ultimately ending up here where there was illegal drinking, gambling, flashy stage shows and yes even a brothel... all  on and under this hill.
You could thank this one time plumber who purchased the hilltop tearoom and restaurant in the late 1920's and transformed it into what some refer to as Vegas before Vegas.
The college whose religion denounces all of the above vices wanted, and almost did, wipe the place clean of any remaining clues of what was once here.
That is until about sixteen years ago, when of all people the college president's wife Vicki Bryant decided to uncover it's past, and share it with the world. Vickie conducts a tour and shows you an
underground room,
 escape tunnels, and numerous artifacts.
Click on image to enlarge

She also explains how the help could turn this place into a seemingly harmless docile restaurant and tearoom on at moments notice if the Texas Rangers made their way through the gates.
The tour also included walk through the tea garden on a very cold day I might add,
and a visit to the large swimming pool that at that time was outdoors.
Discarded in the corner, the dusty remains of some of the gambling tables
and a piano in dire need of restoration. Lord knows the famous fingers that tickled it's keys

So, by all means, don't miss this tour, by the very lady who has single handily uncovered this hill's past.. A job that at times must seem like a jigsaw puzzle as she collects and even buys back paraphernalia that was once here.

 I will let her tell you the story of the fiery Baptist Minister who made it his life's mission to shut down what he deemed "hell on earth".....and did in 1947.

To be continued: The profile of a local showgirl that danced here, and the stable of it's once famous racehorse.

To view an interesting video on the property go: HERE


  1. Oh what a story this is, like a movie, watched the video, amazing place Janey!

  2. The name Redemption Hill seems to be very appropriate.
    It is surprising how figures at the top of society often seem to associate with the rather more seedy characters amongst our midst.

  3. I think I'd find that tour an interesting one.

  4. Wow! That's some hill! I'm glad to hear Mrs. Bryant is preserving the history of it. It's so important to remember our past, even if it was a little colorful.

  5. What a history Janey 😊 thanks for the link to the video.. goodness me people have always enjoyed getting the better of the law it seems!

  6. What an interesting place! If only those walls in the underground room could talk. Have a great day, Janey!

  7. Dearest Janey,
    That revealed quite some history... Stories with also some dark sides of society revealed.