he Panther Fountain sits between the historic Flatiron and Park Central Inn, both owned by Dr. Cravens, in Old Hyde Park. This triangular piece of property was genesis of Fort Worth’s first park. Sarah Gray Jennings donated the land to the City in honor of her parents, John Hansford Hyde and Sally Strother Gray Hyde in 1873. As part of Dr. Cravens’ renovation, the plaque commemorating the gift was restored.
This parcel of Old Hyde park has been carefully reconstructed to accommodate the new fountain andsculpture, including new sidewalks, landscaping and general beautification. Existing elements of the park such as specimen trees and fences were maintained. All work was coordinated with the Park and Recreation Department of the City of Fort Worth as part of a master plan to create a pedestrian area. Other partners in the overall project include the U.S. General Services Administration and the T.
History of the Hyde Park from the City of Fort Worth Parks and Community Services department’s Open Space Master Plan:
An influx of Civil War veterans, numerous cattle drives and the eventual arrival of the railway in 1876 served as the economic engines that drove Fort Worth’s early growth. Public minded citizens contributed time and resources to the long term development of the Fort Worth Park system since the call to form a Park League occurred in 1908. Philanthropic citizens such as Sarah Jennings recognized the value of parks and open space prior to the incorporation of the City of Fort Worth. Parks and Community Service records indicate that the first land used as a City Park was named Hyde Park and was donated by Mrs. Thomas J. Jennings (Sarah) circa 1873. The park is named for Sarah Jennings’ parents Mr. and Mrs. John Hansford Hyde.
Department records also indicate a small but significant foundation of parks was assembled prior to the first park planning effort in 1909. Park sites which include Trinity Park (1892), Haynes Triangle (1893), Marine Park (1894), Will Rogers Memorial (1900), Peter Smith Park (1903), and Maddox Park (1905) were established during this era to meet the needs of a growing city and recognize the significant contributions of early city leaders. In the case of Trinity Park the first parcel of land was acquired in 1892 to address the needs of the City water works and to provide a cool shaded open space retreat for the citizens of the City.
“A start had been made on a park system in 1892, when City Park was created with thirty-one acres that were part of the tract bought from McCart and Capps for the Holly Water Plant.” Oliver Knight, 1953, Fort Worth Outpost on the Trinity
Although Hyde Park was used as the first public urban space of the newly incorporated and rapidly developing downtown area of the city, Trinity Park was considered the first and “only park”. Knight described Trinity Park in the early years as “… a beautiful one , with tall and ancient oaks and shaded glades that drew picnickers on Sunday. On summer nights the streetcar company presented free minstrel shows there. “Oliver Knight, 1953, Fort Worth Outpost on the Trinity
As with many cities during this era, the streetcar and railroad systems were primary determinants in the acquisition and development of parks. Parks were used as anchors at the ends of transit lines to insure ridership of the transit system.