One of the most famous casinos in the country, known here in North Texas as the “Vegas before Vegas,” could disappear if something isn’t done to save it.
The 95-year-old casino and showroom is one of the most visited historical landmarks in Arlington, but it’s literally crumbling down a hillside.
Top O’ Hill Terrace is a fascinating piece of history in Arlington, which is now the site of Arlington Baptist College. Years of erosion has left the historic gem in bad shape, and the college is trying to raise money to save it before it’s gone.
We were lucky enough to get a rare glimpse of the hidden escape tunnel many never knew existed. There’s was also a secret room built to hide gambling paraphernalia during raids.
A lot of the old casino has already been lost because of erosion. Back in its heyday, in the 1930’s and 40’s, we’re told celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and John Wayne spent time at the casino, as well as the infamous criminals, Bonnie and Clyde.
The hope now is to save the structures so the story of the old casino can be told to future generations.
“We’re concerned that this place doesn’t fall down, and that we get these repairs done before the next rain storm takes the rest of it off down the hill,” said Ellen Timberlake-Volz, Tarrant County Historical Commission.
“Number two on TripAdvisor shocks a lot of people, but it really does show the significance and the value, how important this place is,” said Decima Mullen, Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau. “When you have a historical site like this it would be a shame to see it disappear.”
A preservation architect estimates it has less than five years before a good chunk of it is lost — unless repairs are made soon.
They need about $30,000 to hire an architect and begin making repairs.
First on the list is the historic Tea Garden, right outside the casino.
For more information on this rare piece of North Texas history and how you could help preserve it, go to www.topohillterrace.com.