The Imagined Arch

The War to End All Wars ended with the Armistice on 11 November 1918 inside a railway car in a glade of Compiègne, north of Paris. Far away in Fort Worth, Texas, Mary Pearl Hardy Trammell envisioned a triumphal and memorial arch with a keystone shaped like a panther, spanning and curving over Camp Bowie Boulevard. It would bear the name of every soldier from the Panther (36th) Division, American Expeditionary Forces, who had perished in service during World War I. Even as new houses were going up in the Arlington Heights neighborhood that had hosted their military training cantonment for two years, she focused on remembrance.

Along with fellow civic committee members of the local Federation of Women’s Clubs, Mrs. Trammell had already presented to city commissioners a choice of new names for Arlington Heights Boulevard in January of 1919, and had committed to caring for donated trees to be planted along the thoroughfare. She took the commemorative project a step further with her arch proposal. Suggested locations included the western terminus of the Seventh Street bridge or the beginning of the renamed boulevard at what is now the University Drive intersection.

As reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on February 9 of that year, “W.E. Connell of the Park Board has given the idea his indorsement [sic] and efforts will be made to interest all of the members of the Park Department as well as the City Commission in the endeavor.” The reporter noted that “It is likely that when the promoters of the scheme having gotten a little further along and have computed the expense attached to the proposition that the City Commission will be called on to make an appropriation for the structure. . . . . it is believed such a plan would give every taxpayer in Fort Worth the opportunity of having a hand in the undertaking that will not only be a matter of civic pride, but will be a lasting monument to the men that trained at Camp Bowie.”

Mrs. Trammell was no stranger to civic projects and city governance. Her father had served as mayor of San Marcos, and her husband – Jefferson Davis Trammell – was a prominent municipal engineer. In addition to membership in a dance club and frequent mentions in society columns, she was affiliated with the Texas Woman’s Press Association, wrote poetry, and painted. Before the war, Ula le Hentz Bass profiled her as a “Belle of Texas” in an essay,”Types of Texas Beauties,” published in the World’s Fair edition of Fort Worth’s The Bohemian magazine. Bass stated that she was “essentially domestic, and her home has always been of paramount interest to her. . . “ The Trammells often entertained at their “Dixie Lodge” residence along the Dallas Interurban route; by 1922, they had moved to 104 Penn Street.

Evidently, the arch was never built.