Boys Ranch Park History
Bedford Boys Ranch was opened and operated by the Variety Club of Dallas from 1949 to 1957 to provide housing for boys who were wards of the court. Patterned after Boys Town, Nebraska, the ranch spread over 232 acres. Boys Ranch contained a farm and dairy where food and livestock were raised. The boys had access to a swimming pool, a lighted football field with bleachers built into a berm, a baseball diamond, a gymnasium, and a lake. In addition, two brick dormitories housed up to 200 boys whose ages ranged from 10 to 14. Other facilities included a cafeteria, laundry, water, and sewage system, as well as five cottages for employees.
In fear of being swallowed by the Cities of Euless or Hurst, Bedford voted to incorporate on January 22, 1953. Its population was a little over 400 within a two-square mile area, counting the boys and personnel at Boys Ranch.
In 1973, the City of Bedford optioned the 52.6 acre tract that officially became Bedford Boys Ranch Park on July 6, 1974. After purchasing the community park, the City made improvements over the years, in accordance with the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.
Of the 1949 amenities, the original gymnasium in the Boys Ranch Activity Center was expanded by the City in 1999 to 30,000 square-feet and was utilized until 2020. The original 1949 cafeteria was renovated into the ONSTAGE Performing Arts Theater (4,000 square-feet) and the one remaining dormitory (6,000 square-feet) was renovated into the offices of the Arts Council of Northeast Tarrant County.
The Senior Center (8,000 square-feet) was constructed in 1976, and expanded in 1984. The Outdoor Aquatic Center, “Splash,” was constructed in 2003. In 2009, $3.2 million in improvements were made at the Park included reshaping the detention pond as well as installing new pedestrian bridges, a new playground, disc golf, fishing piers, weir dams, picnic pavilions, trails, and lighting.