Few towns in the Southwest can boast having two universities in the same zip code, but Denton, Texas, can. The location of two major
educational venues in a town so close to
Dallas and Fort Worth helped to grow not only Denton, but the entire North Texas region.

Reason to Build
Denton was founded because no one liked Alton. Alton, a stagecoach stop in southern Denton county, replaced Pickneyville as county
seat in 1848, but Denton county residents voted to build a new town because of either Alton's putrid water, or because Alton was not
really centrally located (the story differs). Thus, Denton became the county seat, but it wasn't until 1896 when the  courthouse that stands
now was built from native stone, replacing an older one that  was falling apart.

Denton struggled for a bit as it didn't have an east-west railroad, which meant it could not compete with other commercial centers. The
KATY (Missouri-Kansas- Texas) did make it to Denton, as did the Santa Fe and the electric Interurban in the early part of the 20th century.

Denton's prominence as a college town began in 1890, when North Texas Normal College opened. The private John B. Denton College
opened a few years later. In 1905, the College of Industrial Arts (for women) formed. Though the private college was closed, the two
remaining institutions grew and still have a huge impact on Denton to this day - the students of the University of North Texas and Texas
Woman's University make up a quarter of the city's population.

Life and Death of Namesake
Denton - both the county and city - was named after John B. Denton from Tennessee. A Methodist preacher turned attorney, Denton died
during an Indian battle in Tarrant county. His comrades buried him by Oliver Creek, but twenty years later the son of cattle man John
Chisum dug him up and reburied him in his front yard in Bolivar, a town northwest of Denton. In 1901, John Denton saw the light of day yet
again, when he was re-interred on the courthouse lawn.

The Quakertown Story
One of the most interesting neighborhoods in Denton doesn't even exist anymore. Quakertown, a freedman's community nestled at the
bottom of Texas Woman's University, was once a vibrant enclave with schools, stores, and doctor's offices, all catering to Denton's sizable
African American population.

In the 1920s, the city of Denton decided to level the neighborhood and create a city park in its place. The idea was supposed to be an
effort to "beautify" the city, but the decision was racially motivated. After all, a black community sandwiched between the woman's college
and downtown was just a little too close for comfort.

The African American homeowners were subjected to eminent domain. A lawsuit filed by residents of Quakertown led nowhere, and by
1930 the small streets of Quakertown, save for Bell Avenue, had been obliterated by a new city park, civic center, and library. Many black
Dentonians either left the city in disgust or moved to the neighborhoods making up Southeast Denton.

Over the years, the story of Quakertown could have been forgotten, but Denton has a strong  attachment to its past. Instead of "burying"
this racist history, Denton seeks to atone for it. The Denton County Historical Park Foundation is currently renovating a house that came
from Quakertown, in which the Denton County African American Museum will be housed.

Things to See and Do
Modern day Denton is a great city. And I'm not saying that just because I live close by! Because of its proximity to Dallas/Fort Worth, the
airport, and its universities, Denton has become the area's cultural magnet.

downtown area, with the restored courthouse glistening in the middle, is home to several unique shops, taverns, restaurants,
bakeries, theaters, and furniture stores. Don't miss the
Recycled Books and CD store, located in the restored, purple opera house. Inside
the courthouse, visit the
Courthouse Museum with its many displays (call 940-565-5667).  Southwest of the square is the Victorian
Bayless-Selby Mansion, open for tours (call 940-349-2865 to find out more).

Denton's two universities have given the city a small-town feel, with great neighborhoods to prove it. Bungalows and Craftsman houses
mix with cottages, Italianate mansions, and plenty of green space in most areas of town. The
Hickory Street Historic District provides a
great overview of Denton's beautiful houses. The
University of North Texas also provides plenty of culture, such as a planetarium. And
Texas Woman's University's campus is beautiful. Its Little Chapel in the Woods was dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt. Nearby is Lake Ray
Roberts State Park, a beautiful place to go hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, and horseback riding.

For more information about Denton - especially about the many festivals that go on each year, such as the
Jazz Fest and Storyteller's
 - visit City of Denton  or call the Chamber of Commerce at 888-381-1818.
Cool neon on Campus Theater, downtown Denton. This theater hosted the Texas premier of the movie Bonnie & Clyde!
The much-moved John B. Denton's current resting place, on the courthouse lawn, in downtown Denton.
Denton lies 30 miles from Dallas and 30 miles from Fort Worth - north - at the
convergence of Interstates 35 East and 35 West. The town's about 60 miles south of the
river. Click on the map to get a better picture.
The restored 1896 courthouse, built by W.C. Dodson, is one of the most photographed in Texas.
See Keep Denton Local for information on Denton preservation efforts.

Read up on the great blog,
We Denton Do It
Denton, Texas: My University
is Better than Your University
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
How to get there
The Texas & Pacific Depot, which sat down the hill on the east side of downtown Denton, was razed in either the 1950s or 1960s.
Denton's Union Depot before its demolition shows the wear and tear on this once venerable building.
The old Denton County jail was turned into a parking lot in the 1980s. However, I did find a unit of its cells in a field just east of town. Click on
the image above to see what the cells - which were installed in the 1940 and were considered state-of-the-art at the time - looked like.
Generations of Dentonites have been married in the Little Chapel in the Woods, located on the Texas Woman's University campus. It was
dedicated in the 1930s by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.