Downtown Outdoors: Take a Stroll Through History at Knapp Heritage Park

“We love the General Store and Big Daddy Knapp's office!” Geraldine Mills said with a big smile when we recently asked her about Knapp Heritage Park, another great place in Arlington where you can go outside and play. Geraldine is the long-time Executive Director of the Arlington Historical Society, a group dedicated to the preservation of the city’s rich past.

That’s the thing about Knapp Heritage Park, a bona-fide heritage destination located at the northwestern edge of Downtown Arlington. It packs a lot of personality within its acreage. To locals like Geraldine who know its history by heart, it’s a direct reflection of the Knapp, Jopling, Melear and Watson families, the Arlington pioneers whose buildings make up the Knapp experience.

The park itself is a settlement replica which boasts three of the oldest original structures in the city. Visitors to the park can tour the Jopling-Melear and Watson cabins which date to the mid-1800s, along with a one-room schoolhouse which was built in 1910. The Bardin blacksmith barn is also located in the park, just a short stroll away from a general store which is located in James Knapp's law office. 

Knapp was a prominent attorney and land developer who was instrumental in the development of many of North Texas highways, including State Highway 360. In honor of James and his wife Mildred, the heritage center site was donated by their grandchildren. It was dedicated as Knapp Heritage Park in 2004.

Knapp Heritage Park, just one of several venues overseen by the Arlington Historical Society, is open Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. or by appointment. On the last Sunday of every month, visitors are treated to a live demonstration by artist James Ryan in the Bardin blacksmith barn. Group tours are available by appointment. While the park is open-air, be sure to bring your mask to wear as you tour building interiors. Call 817-460-4001 for more information, pricing and to schedule a tour or private event.

Downtown Outdoors Knapp Heritage Park illustration by Lily Williams

Downtown Outdoors  

Downtown Outdoors is a Downtown Arlington platform for discovering and experiencing the great outdoors in the heart of our city. Downtown Outdoors not only helps us see Arlington’s historical and cultural district differently, but creates opportunities to engage with our outdoor spaces through creative new programming that’s open to all. Andthese days especially, there are so many beneficial reasons to regularly step out into the sunshine. Research shows that social distancing in outdoor spaces is much more effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19 as compared to indoors. Spending time and exercising outside also provide all kinds of health benefits.

So let’s go outside and play!  #ExploreDTArlington

What’s your favorite way to play?  

What other ideas do you have for enjoying the great outdoors in the heart of your city? We’d love to hear from you.