TravelTill

History of Fort Worth



aloon), many others found legitimate work and bought homes.

A third change was in the popularity and profitability of the Acre, which was no longer attracting cowboys and out-of-town visitors. Its visible populace was now more likely to be derelicts and the homeless.

By 1900, most of the dance halls and gamblers were gone. Cheap variety shows and prostitution became the chief forms of entertainment. The Progressive Era was similarly making its reformist mark felt in districts like the Acre all over the country.

In 1911, the Reverend J. Frank Norris launched an offensive against racetrack gambling in the Baptist Standard and used the pulpit of the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth to attack vice and prostitution. Norris used the Acre to scourge the leadership of Fort Worth. When he began to link certain Fort Worth businessmen with property in the Acre and announce their names from his pulpit, the battle heated up.

On February 4, 1912, Norris's church was burned to the ground; that evening his enemies tossed a bundle of burning oiled rags onto his porch, but the fire was extinguished and caused minimal damage. A month later the arsonists succeeded in burning down the parsonage.

In a sensational trial lasting a month, Norris was charged with perjury and arson in connection with the two fires. He was acquitted, but his continued attacks on the Acre accomplished little until 1917. A new city administration and the federal government, which was eying Fort Worth as a potential site for a major military training camp, joined forces with the Baptist preacher to bring down the curtain on the Acre finally.

The police department compiled statistics showing that 50% of the violent crime in Fort