Leonard Brothers Department Store 1918 - 1967 - Historical Marker
This large historical commemorates brothers John and Obadiah "Obie" Leonard who, in 1918, founded what would become one of the largest department stores in Fort Worth. It was so large, in fact, that by the 1960s it occupied six city blocks here in downtown Fort Worth. The store was so successful because the customers could buy almost anything they wanted, from fresh produce to auto supplies, and the brothers treated their employees and customers well. Other draws to the store were the first escalators built in the South and, remarkably, the store's subway line. Called the M&O Subway Express, the subway ferried customers from a large parking lot to the store for free. In effect, the subway was a small-scale mass transit system, encouraging people to not only shop at Leonard's but other businesses as well. As a result, the entire downtown benefitted. The store no longer exists but the tunnel is still there although it is sealed off from the public.
Backstory and Context
The store was sold to the Tandy Corporation in 1967, which retained the Leonard name. However, the new owners opened stores in the suburbs and began to only sell products with a high turnover rate (vs. the variety that the store had always sold). As a result, profits declined, leading to the store's closure in 1974.
Dickson, Gordon. "Cowtown underground: M&O Subway gone, but spooky tunnel remains." April 1, 2015. https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article17124035.html.
"Leonard Brothers Department Store 1918 - 1967." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed July 22, 2019. https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=52790.
Photos: The Historical Marker Database