The following is a reproduction of the article which appeared in the
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sunday, February 4, 1990, about Weston Gardens.
FORT WORTH – Peggy Bandy’s areas of expertise seem to have included art, sculpture, horticulture and entertaining. Friends remember her as a short, wispy woman, tanned and sinewy even in winter.
Her husband, Leon, had an architectural bent and an eye for landscaping as well as a fascination for machines and gadgets. He made wind chimes and elaborate birdhouses. To his buddies, he was flamboyant and generous. To his hired hands, he had a mean side.
Together, beginning about 1929, Leon and Peggy Bandy moved from a house at 1024 College Ave, in South Fort Worth, to 10 idyllic acres of about 100 acres they owned along what later would be called Anglin Drive, a north-south artery south of Fort Worth in an unincorporated area between Kennedale and Forest Hill.
In the early ‘30s, Leon Bandy named his first little parcel of paradise Dripping Springs because of tiny rivulets that issued from a lichen-encrusted outcropping into the listless creek.
Yet other facts about the Bandys – where they were born, how they were educated, when they were married and where, what they built when at Dripping Springs – are unclear, although everyone interviewed for this story who knew the Bandys assumed they were Tarrant County natives.
The interviews, as well as a perusal of city directories, give an interesting but somewhat incomplete picture.
Directories show that during the 1920s, Leon Bandy worked for Majestic Reproduction Co., which was at 1103 Commerce St. next door to the old Majestic Theatre. The first listing of Bandy’s own business, Bandy Reproduction Co., was in 1929. The initial address was 611 Throckmorton St., but by 1940, Bandy moved his company into the Flat Iron Building, Houston and West Ninth streets.
When the couple moved to Dripping Springs is not totally clear, but beginning in 1929, their residential address is listed as Rural Delivery 2, Kennedale (The property at that time was between Everman and Kennedale). The designation Dripping Springs as the Bandy’s address appears first in the 1935 directory.
Whether Leon Bandy bought the land or inherited it is something the current owners of the estate, Randy and Sue Weston can’t pin down. Because he was so impulsive - and so enterprising – most acquaintances believe Bandy bought the land he owned.
“Leon’s business had been good to him, “ recalled former Fort Worth Mayor R. M. “Sharkey” Stovall, who bought Bandy’s company after Bandy retired. “He did all the reproduction work for the Austin Company, which built consolidated Vultee [now General Dynamics].
“I remember when he got that job and another one for an aircraft assembly plant up in Oklahoma City or Tulsa, Leon went out and bought himself a big Cadillac.”
In his heyday, Bandy was a baron, in his own mind, tallish and blond with a general’s carriage, a draftsman by training and a reproduction artist by trade.
“Leon was a Dapper Dan, a little fellow with a wax mustache,” said Stovall. “5-10 or 5-11 and very handsome. Peggy was very attractive, too, very tiny and fit-looking. They made a nice couple.”
“At one time, Leon owned over 100 acres on both sides of the road out there. Leon could build anything.”
“The thing that intrigued me was how they enjoyed working outside all the time,” said a woman who knew the Bandys but did not want to be identified. “Here we were in a Depression, then the war, and these people just kind of did what they liked, did their own thing, as we say now.”
“I remember one of the black men who worked for them saying that this was their heaven on earth,” the woman said. “What he was saying was that because of the way Mr. Bandy treated the help, this would be the only heaven he’d get.”
“But both of them stayed in that yard. And Mr. Bandy kept coming up with more odd ideas. That’s why the place has four or five different themes.”
Does it ever.
And even if they were not widely traveled, Leon and Peggy Bandy developed a proclivity for finer things.
“I remember when they had the ground floor and the basement of the Flat Iron Building,” Stovall recalled. “He sold engineering supplies and did blueprints and reproductions on the ground floor. In the basement, she had antiques, art and knick-knacks, most of it very fine.
“When my wife [Amelia] and I got married in ’39, Leon and Peggy gave us some hand-painted Dresden china. Peggy knew a lot about china and things like that. Leon was the same way. He’d get interested in something, the he’d make himself an authority on it.”
To wit, the rock ship at Dripping Springs.
In 1960, shortly before he sold the Dripping Springs spread and moved into their Oriental house south on Anglin drive, Leon Bandy told roving Star-Telegram reporter Jim Jones that he finished the ship in 1942 – and that he never had been on a ship at sea.
Yet, while Leon Bandy was liked by his peers, his employees – from his farm hands to the stone masons he paid 50 cents a day to during the Depression – only tolerated his impulsive and demanding ways.
“Me and him was good friends, but if you were a worker, sometimes he’d try to run over you, get something from you for nothing,” said B. A. King of Rendon, who mended fences and did odd jobs for Bandy for several years. “Still, I liked Mr. Leon a lot. I think the only reason he treated us that way was he was so tight.”
“I’d put in a days work for him and he wouldn’t let me go. Once, I quit for a month because he was doing me that way. I do know he was pretty durn stingy. He was rich, but he got that way by being stingy.”
“Once, after Miss Peggy died and Mr. Leon had a widow-woman cooking for him, the widow-woman wanted to give me a piece of pie. Mr. Leon stopped her, told her, ‘Hell, no, let him bring his own pie.’”
King said the Bandys “might have made one or two big trips, seems to me like it was England.” However, the Dripping Springs Spread, and later the Oriental-style home they built in the early 1960s on the opposite side of Anglin Drive, kept the couple working at home most of the time."
The extravagant parties, which the Bandys hosted for business clients such as Consolidated Vultee (now General Dynamics) or the Moslah Shrine Temple, “were all legitimate and wholesome and good,” King said.
“Course, I was never invited, but I heard a lot about the parties,” he said. “There wasn’t any fighting or nothin’ like that. They’d drink and dance and listen to music. If you got invited to Mr. Bandy’s party, it was always a good-un.”
King described Peggy Bandy as “real nice, a little woman, a Dutch-looking woman…She liked me more than he did. She’d give me things. You couldn’t get ol’ Leon to give a hired hand nothin.”
Bill Northern of the Moslah Temple Shrine said Leon Bandy was president of the Shrine’s Patrol Unit in 1947 and “had two parties a year just for us…but we were not to go to the house…We just had access to the lower part of the property."
“By July, both of them had suntans like you’ve never seen,” said Northern. “The place was their whole life. They didn’t have kids, they retired early. Leon played golf some at Glen Garden, but that place was their baby.”
It wasn’t until the early 1960s, when Bandy advertised the Dripping Springs property for $85,000 and sold it to a family named Handley.
Why he sold is unclear – and particularly fascinating since Leon Bandy left behind a blueprint for a lighthouse that he ostensibly intended to erect at Dripping Springs as a companion piece to the ship.
Becky Vitek Shields, whose parents bought Dripping Springs in 1969, said she was told that Bandy sold the estate because he was upset that small cities in the Tarrant and Johnson counties were dumping sewage into Village Creek feeder system, of which Chambers Creek is a part.
“The water quality was bad and you supposedly couldn’t swim in there anymore, but we kids did after we moved in,” Shields said.
Yet Shields’ father, retired Col. Richard S. Vitek, said Bandy built the exquisite, if somewhat garish, Oriental-style home across Anglin Drive and to the south because the small cities weren’t dumping enough sewage into the creek.
“Bandy had that big sprinkler system and it pulled water out of the creek’” said Vitek, from whom the Westons bought the property two years ago. “As long as the sewer plant in Everman was pumping sewage into the creek, the water level in the creek stayed up. I think it was about this time that Everman tied into the Fort Worth [sewer] system, which meant that the creek would go dry in summer.
We moved to Dripping springs in September 1969, and we were strictly interested in the acreage,” he said.. “We thought about bulldozing the house because it only had one bedroom. What we decided to do was take out all the interior walls and make it bigger.”
“But I was afraid to have parties out there,” said Vitek. “I didn’t want any drunks falling off that bridge.”
Shields said the Bandys both died in the middle 1970s.
“She died of some kind of cancer that started in her arm, and he lived about a year after she died,” said Shields. “Mr. Bandy had emphysema read bad, died at the Forest Hill Nursing Home.”
By CHRISTOPHER EVANS
FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM
Sunday, February 4, 1990
Mystery surrounds house's first owners
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