When you pass through the Carthage stone and marble gates onto Elizabeth Boulevard, you are surrounded by a neighborhood of historic grandeur that began in 1911 as the vision of developer John C. Ryan. On what was then a spread of grassland three miles south of the courthouse, Ryan envisioned a neighborhood with scale and distinction sufficient to rival the Victorian mansions along the Trinity River and Summit Avenue, and the cattle-baron's mansions on Pennsylvania.
With homes ranging from Mediterranean to Georgian brick, by 1926 stately Ryan Place was at the height of its glory. Many of Fort Worth's most prominent families lived in the landscaped brick and stone mansions that featured the most luxurious amenities - balustrade verandahs, beveled-glass doors, Palladian windows, imported marble columns, even underground ballrooms and futuristic gas dryers.
Ryan Place and Ryan himself were hit hard by the depression. Many of the mansions were left empty and deteriorating. Construction ceased, and did not regain momentum until after World War II.
Though by the early 60's, Ryan Place stretched south to Berry Street, neglect and steady growth in the suburbs left many of the homes in a state of ill repair. It was not until 1969, when 150 residents came together to oppose the city's plan to widen Fifth and Sixth Avenues to provide arterial access to downtown, and formed the Ryan Place Improvement Association, that the neighborhood began its return to Ryan's early vision. The group won their battle, and in 1979, residents' efforts were again rewarded when Elizabeth Boulevard was entered into the National Register of Historic Places, making Ryan Place Fort Worth's only residential historic district.
When residents gathered in 1983 to explore the possibility of raising funds to rebuild the gates at Elizabeth Blvd. and Eighth Avenue, torn down in 1955 because they were considered traffic hazards, A Candlelight Christmas in Ryan Place was born. The beautifully restored gates and homes have a significant place in Fort Worth's history. Their restoration represents the pride and commitment of Ryan Place residents today, in their continued quest to fulfill the vision of the neighborhood's founders.