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Top O' Hill Terrace, Arlington

4.8
Beulah Adams Marshall bought land here along the Bankhead Highway in the early 1920s and opened a tea room, hosting teas and serving dinners to Dallas and Fort Worth Patrons. In 1926, Fred and Mary Browning purchased the property and shortly began converting the facilities into a casino, adding an escape tunnel and secret room for hiding the gambling paraphernalia during raids. Known as Top O’ Hill Terrace, the popular spot attracted gamblers as well as visitors who were often unaware of the gaming activities. The restaurant, along with the tea garden that exists today, was a legitimate business, operating alongside the casino, which benefited from the nearby Arlington Downs Racetrack. Top O’ Hill Terrace facilities included a horse barn and a private stable for Browning’s prized horse, Royal Ford, purchased from oilman and Arlington Downs owner W. T. Waggoner.

Contemporary to the Top O’ Hill heyday was the outspoken Dr. J. Frank Norris (d. 1952), longtime pastor of First Baptist Church of Fort Worth. The conservative Norris, co-founder of Fundamental Baptist Bible Institute, later known as Bible Baptist Seminary and later as the Arlington Baptist College, was an ardent proponent of prohibition and gambling reform. One of his targets was Top O’ Hill Terrace, which he reportedly vowed one day to own. In 1947, Texas Ranger Captain M. T. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas led a raid on Top O’ Hill, catching the gambling operation in full swing. In late 1956, under the leadership of Earl K. Oldham, the Bible Baptist Seminary bought the property and relocated here, fulfilling Norris’ promise, although neither he nor Browning (d. 1953) had lived to see it. Today, the Arlington Baptist College continues to use the site, which retains many of its original structures and features a statue of Norris by noted Sculptor Pompeo Coppini.
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Top O' Hill Terrace Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5.0
326 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • If visiting Arlington, TX, this is a must-see. The tour does not disappoint. From local history to Hollywood celebrities, it is fun and certainly a treasure for Arlington and surrounding area.  more »
  • Having lived in Arlington for 59 years, I had heard of this place but had never taken the time to visit until yesterday. A group of us decided to visit and see what was so significant about it to the ...  more »
  • What a wealth of information Vickie is in regards to this very interesting place. Her enthusiasm is apparent and makes it so much fun to listen to. It’s so interesting to hear about so many famous peo...  more »
Google
  • Very interesting place with all the mystique and aura of a bygone era.. Nice presentation in which you'll learn all about the secret gambling operation and all the famous people that visited the place to have some "illegal fun".. the place has a long history that is well explained and shown by the guide and you will have the chance to see the secret rooms and passages that were used to thwart and fool the police in case of a raid..very affordable and is a must if you visit Arlington as is considered the #1 spot to visit in the city... Enjoy...
  • “Mystic Gambling” The presentation was most enlightening and incredible to believe the celebrated guests, gangsters, and gamblers that frequented the establishment. The great lengths that were taken to thwart the police and FBI were quite unique. While the presentation is almost 2 hours, there is a short break and it is very interesting information. Then you take a short walking tour outside.
  • It was fun to visit it was also an inexpensive way to spend the day and learned some interesting facts as well

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In Arlington, you'll find the largest selection of accommodations among the national chain hotels surrounding the city's Six Flags amusement parks. A few additional hotels surround the Dallas Cowboys' stadium. Options remain limited downtown, but this isn’t surprising since Six Flags draws much of Arlington's tourism.
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