Ridglea Village/ Ridglea Theater/ Luther Apartments – Camp Bowie

Arlie Clayton Luther, who had constructed a number of houses in Westover Hills during the 1930s (5631 Byers Avenue/5630 Collinwood Avenue), in 1940 turned to the Ridglea area of the West Side. Luther, vice-president of the building firm of Byrne & Luther, Inc., began his extended project to develop a commercial shopping center along both sides of Camp Bowie Boulevard and a planned residential community immediately adjacent to the north.
An early example of a commercial strip designed to accommodate the automobile, Ridglea Village No. 1 is a complex of structures housing retail shops on the north side of Camp Bowie Boulevard, erected in stages in 1940, 1942 and 1947. Ridglea Village No.2, to the south, was Luther’s next project. Constructed in 1947, the primary tenant here was Ridglea State Bank for many years. Both complexes of commercial structures are united by their Mediterranean style, featuring red tile roofs, two-story brick walls with denticulated sill courses, and cantilevered balconies of heavy timber. The contracting firms of Byrne & Luther, Inc. and Loffland and Luther are cited in building records as responsible for construction; Vowell was the architect of the structures to the north. Adjoining Ridglea Village No.2, Ridglea Theater opened December 1, 1950; it again repeats the Mediterranean imagery, clad in tan stone veneer. The prominent tower acts as a sign for the entire development. Inside the lobby features terrazzo floors and a mural depicting the arrival of Spanish explorers in America.
In 1949, Luther continued his large project with the construction of a planned community of ten luxury apartments fronting on Curzon Avenue and backing up to Ridglea Village No. 1. The two apartment structures, of one and two stories, are arranged along the curving landscaped block. The Mediterranean style of the shopping village is again carried out by the use of brick walls painted pink, Mission tile roofs, and balconies of wrought iron and heavy timber. Luther enlisted the following consulting architects for the design: Carlos B. Schoeppl, J. H. Jamison, Victor Marr Curtis, A. C. Webb and Patterson and Teague; planners were Hare and Hare and Bartholomew and Sons. The Luther Apartments, the only Ridglea Village property still owned by a Luther family member, have been occupied by a number of prominent Fort Worth citizens, including A. C. and Nelle Luther and Wyatt C. Hedrick. The retail shops, bank, theater, nearby churches and country club inspired the promotional slogan “Ridglea Has Everything.” A number of other apartment projects and a hotel were planned by Luther and his Ridglea Housing Corporation; Luther was later honored by the community and given the title “Mr. Ridglea.” Further research is needed to assess his impact on the development of the West Side.

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