Arts / Museums

5 City-Changing Fort Worth Institutions Celebrate Major Milestones — Inside a Historic Party Year Like No Other

From Lavish Gardens to a Groundbreaking Museum to a Women's Club Like No Other

BY // 10.31.23

Historic Fort Worth has an awful lot to celebrate this year. As the year 2023 winds down, a number of the city’s most beloved venues and institutions will be celebrating major milestones. Let’s take a look at these important anniversaries and what’s still coming:

The Japanese Gardens Turn 50

The Fort Worth Botanic Garden and its centrally located 120-acre oasis, will be celebrating the 50 year anniversary of its Japanese Gardens. The Gardens will be hosting a small ceremony this Thursday, November 2 from 5 to 7 pm.

Two significant guests will be on hand for the ceremony, including former Fort Worth Botanic Garden director Henry Painer, who was at the helm when the Japanese Garden opened, and Al Komatsu. who helped with the design of the transporting space. Both men can recall the lush Japanese-inspired gardens from their earliest planning stages.

One of Fort Worth’s true hidden gems, the Japanese Gardens were designed by Albert Komatsu and Associates (which later became Komatsu Architecture) in 1973. Some plantings even have been donated by Fort Worth’s sister city of Nagaoka, Japan. The shady garden is now filled with koi ponds, Japanese maples, raked rock gardens, a tea house and its recently installed arched bridge.

Then, Fort Worth Botanic Garden’s annual Fall Festival is planned for this Saturday, November 4 and Sunday, November 5. Meanwhile, the current Florigami In the Garden exhibit remains on display through Valentine’s Day of 2024.

Milestone – The Japanese Garden’s new arched bridge reflects in the water during Lightscape. (Photo by Courtney Dabney).
The Japanese Garden’s new arched bridge reflects in the water during Lightscape. (Photo by Courtney Dabney).

Fort Worth Country Day School Turns 60

The oldest co-ed college-preparatory school in Fort Worth, Fort Worth Country Day (FWCD), is celebrating its 60th year in 2023. As part of the anniversary celebration, Country Day has unveiled the largest fundraising initiative in school history. It’s dubbed the Forward Together Comprehensive Campaign.

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Countless Fort Worth leaders have passed through its hallowed halls ever since Fort Worth County Day opened in 1963 starting out with 210 students and 17 teachers. Its then 10-acre campus has changed dramatically over the decades, with three original buildings still in use. One housing classrooms, one housing administration and one housing the cafeteria.

The vision for the school expanded eightfold just one year after it opened, when an additional 80 acres of land were purchased and FWCD opened the doors to its brand-new Annie Richardson Bass Lower School.

“Sixty years later, FWCD is the proud home of 1,097 students and 159 full-time faculty members across 13 buildings throughout its 104-acre wooded campus in southwest Fort Worth,” a release notes.

The Forward Together campaign has raised $31 million so far. Fort Worth Country Day plans to break ground on the building of a new Lower School in January, with completion slated for spring 2025. One of Fort Worth most prestigious private schools rolls on and continues to build at age 60.

Milestones – Country Day’s campus is now an expansive arts, athletics and academics complex.
Fort Worth Country Day’s campus is now an expansive arts, athletics and academics complex.

The Amon Carter Celebrates Its Muse

Ruth Carter Stevenson would have been 100 this year (October 19), and The Amon Carter Museum of American Art (The Carter) is celebrating her life and vision. Under Ruth Carter’s leadership, the Phillip Johnson-designed museum opened to the public in 1961. She expanded its collection, setting it apart for its internationally recognized collection of American art.

In celebration, the inaugural Re/Framed rotation spotlights a selection of artworks acquired during Ruth Carter’s lifetime. The exhibition is currently on view through March 31. The Carter will also be celebrating the life and legacy of Ruth Carter on Thursday, December 14 during Second Thursdays at the Carter: Art & Advocacy. This free monthly event that includes a tour led by Carter executive director Andrew J. Walker. You’ll get cocktails and artifacts.

Ruth Carter collected contemporary art for her time and recognized the pioneering visions of artists such as Stuart Davis, Louise Nevelson and Georgia O’Keeffe. She also championed educational initiatives and fulfilled her father Amon Carter’s wishes to ensure free access to the museum for all.

Milestones – The Fort Worth Woman’s Club hits the century mark. (Photo by Rene Gomez)
The Fort Worth Woman’s Club hits the century mark. (Photo by Rene Gomez)

The Woman’s Club of Fort Worth Hits the Century Mark

We’d be remiss for not noting that Fort Worth’s oldest, most important and philanthropic women’s clubs is celebrating its centennial. The Woman’s Club of Fort Worth began empowering women at its founding in 1923, when a group of enterprising women brought some 11 local clubs together under one roof.

Over the past century, it has grown to include many clubs and departments ranging from social and service to artistic and educational. There’s something for everyone.

“We currently have 38 clubs and 17 departments,” Pam Poteet, vice president of membership, tells PaperCity Fort Worth. “The largest is the Junior Woman’s Club for those aged 21 to 40.”

The 2.2-acre women’s club complex is striking and comprises eight historic buildings in all. Three of its buildings are designated landmarks on both the Texas and National Register of Historic Places. With homes and structures in the Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Italian Renaissance Revival and Craftsman styles, The Woman’s Club of Fort Worth is located in what was once known as Quality Hill neighborhood. All the buildings were painted Spanish antique white and many have arched windows and green tile roofs.

At the century mark, The Woman’s Club of Fort Worth provides its members with opportunities to network, socialize and lead community efforts. Along with personal and professional development, the historic club located along Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Fort Worth, supports an educational environment through its services and its library, along with planned lectures, discussions and meetings.

TCU Downtown mural revealed in downtown to celebrate the school’s 150th year. Designed by alum Trevor Scott
TCU Downtown mural revealed in downtown to celebrate the school’s 150th year. It is designed by alum Trevor Scott.

TCU Wraps Up Its Epic 150th Year Party

Founded in 1873, TCU is celebrating its 150th anniversary in style. What began with drone displays and immersive experiences, ended with one final flourish. One that will stick around. Texas Christian University capped off its 150th year celebration by unveiling its plans for a massive new mural in downtown Fort Worth.

TCU’s newest large-scale mural, measuring at least 96 feet in height and 90 feet in width, is located on the southeast corner of Throckmorton and 5th Streets.

Designed by Trevor Scott, a 2022 graduate of the graphic design program at TCU, the massive mural reads: “Fort Worth, Home of the Horned Frogs.” Several campus icons are showcased including Frog Fountain and campus mascot SuperFrog, alongside hallmark Fort Worth locations such as Bass Performance Hall, the West 7th Street bridge and the downtown skyline. The mural will be on display there for at least five years.

TCU’s 150th year was certainly one for its students, alumni and hometown fans to Riff Ram Bah and Zoo about. The football team made it all the way to the national championship game for the first time since the 1930s. TCU baseball made the College World Series in Omaha. And TCU basketball was just four points away from making the Sweet 16.

It’s been a robust year for these hometown frogs off the playing fields too. With its medical school on the rise, a multi-million-dollar Van Cliburn Concert Hall and plenty of new residence halls adding to the campus, TCU continues to follow its motto of “Dream Big. Be Bold. Lead on.”

Yes, it’s been a big year for milestones in Fort Worth. Amid these milestone celebrations these local institutions continue to grow, from education to the arts. They are all an important part of what makes Fort Worth such a unique place to call home.

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