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Top o' Hill Terrace

Updated: Nov 2, 2023


Tunnel
The tunnel that led revelers out of the casino when raids took place at Top o' Hill Terrace.

Before the interstates, Abraham Road, then Division Street, in Arlington were the original roads that linked Dallas and Fort Worth (DFW). In Dallas, this road is Commere Street; in Fort Worth, it becomes Lancaster Boulevard. In numerical terms, Division Street is TX 180 (a remnant of old US 80).


This sounds boring, but it's not. Pockets of the road are still graced by mid-century motor courts and nightclubs, and there were once drive-in movie theaters, "pig stands," (BBQ restaurants), and race tracks (horses and cars) along this thirty mile stretch.


Old DFW still remains visible, too, on the campus of Arlington Baptist College. The college is housed in what used to be one of the biggest gambling halls, bordellos, and speakeasies in the Southwest called Top o' Hill Terrace.


Built in the 1920s out of native sandstone, it was first used as a tea garden. Under new owners, the complex served illegal booze and hosted a casino during Prohibition. Patrons, who allegedly included Bonnie and Clyde, used a tunnel to escape during raids. A Baptist minister named Frank Norris, one of the first "star pastors" who emerged after World War I and who also built the area's first mega-church, vowed to shut down the sinful operation, and in the 1950s, he got his wish: Arlington Baptist College was opened on the site of this former den of decadence.


The College is still in existence (now, it's Arlington Baptist University) and its picturesque campus welcomes the respectfully curious tourist.


Building
A guard stationed in this little tower would keep watch and alert patrons at Top o' Hill Terrace when "the laws" were a-coming'.

Stone
Some ruins can behind the stone walls of this fantastic campus.

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