FORT WORTH -- With high gas prices keeping some families closer to home this spring break, local history buffs are offering an alternative to fighting crowds at the zoo or simply hanging around the house.
Historic Fort Worth Inc. has come up with a stained-glass tour that can serve as a scavenger hunt for schoolchildren ages 6 to 13.
The tour consists of 14 locations across Fort Worth, from churches and the Ashton Depot downtown to Thistle Hill and McFarland House, Historic Fort Worth's home. It runs today through Friday.
"If the response is what we think it's going to be, it could become an annual event," said Stephanie Montero, Historic Fort Worth's special projects coordinator.
The hope is that the tour will help inspire another generation to take an interest in local historical structures.
"We have people who go into Thistle Hill who say they went there on a school tour as a child and have never forgotten it," Montero said. "They may not take it very seriously at the time, but it does plant a seed."
Building in a building
A $10 booklet is required to take the tour and includes a questionnaire that can be used as a scavenger hunt for children. If they make it to 10 of the 14 sites, they will receive a small prize at McFarland House, which should be the last stop of the tour.
The Stained Glass Tour booklet can be purchased for $5 with a Star-Telegram Press Pass and will allow admission to all 14 sites. But not all locations will be open every day. For example, Beth-El Congregation will be open only on Wednesday.
Some highlights include a chance to see "a secret building" in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.
Inside the structure that houses the Gardens restaurant is the first building erected in the Botanic Garden in 1935.
"It is virtually a building within a building," Montero said. "Walk inside the door and you're looking at the facade of this very tiny, older building. It's like an enchanted cottage that no one knows is there, and it looks out over the fragrance garden."
The small building includes a stained-glass window that contains "opalescent purples and greens of the wisteria." A second window of red roses depicts vines as well as thorns.
Another interesting tidbit involves Ashton Depot, which was built as Union Station in 1899, a former passenger train station.
When Shirlee and Taylor Gandy bought the building in 1997, the original windows were missing.
Local architect Bob Adams told the Gandys that Aggie Pate had removed the windows in 1969 when the train station was slated for demolition. The Gandys restored the windows and returned them to their original location after 34 years.
If the tour proves successful, Historic Fort Worth might consider a tour of gates, towers or perhaps murals. For this first tour, stained glass was chosen because it presents different styles and details to pique people's curiosity.
Booklets can be purchased at Historic Fort Worth's McFarland House, 110 Penn St., or Miss Molly's Toy and Candy Shop at 4804 Camp Bowie Blvd. For more information, call 817-336-2344, ext. 100.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698