If you’ve heard of Weatherford, TX, you’re probably a small town junkie (guilty as charged) or an adoring fan of Douglas Chandor’s art (again, guilty). If the name sounds as familiar as the word “coddiwomple”, that’s perfectly all right too. After all, Weatherford’s population crests at 40,000. But for a city that isn’t even 15,000 acres, it has mastered the art of packing a lot into a little. I assure you, today’s tour around town will be all the proof you need.
Where to Stay in Weatherford?
On the surface, it appears we will be spending the night at a Marriott or a Motel 8 – a decently priced brand name without too much to offer. Search for hotels in Weatherford and those results take the top mark. Yes, you could stay in Fort Worth, but Weatherford has some of the most charming bed and breakfasts in the DFW region.
The Rose Garden Cottage is a private bungalow that captures the beauty of Weatherford in both its unparalleled hospitality and picturesque landscape. This homey getaway is all we need to escape the big city life. If we are looking for a more romantic option (hello, darling), there is always the Angel’s Nest Bed and Breakfast, complete with lover’s quarters in an Adam’s Family style Victorian Home. One of their rooms apparently has a full-sized Sarcophagus and is decorated in early 20th century antiques and furniture…I’m sure Gomez and Morticia would approve.
Rose Garden Cottage: 212 East Lee Avenue, Website
Angel’s Nest: 1105 Palo Pinto St, Website
What to See in Weatherford?
Okay, now that we’ve set our accommodations for the night, we can begin our drive down to Weatherford. Settle back into the seat as I tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a dapper English gentleman by the name of Douglas Chandor. Chandor had the trim look of a businessman – slicked hair, snug suits, and a pipe poised above the curl of his lower lip. But unlike any stereotypical merchant, Chandor’s eyes were wholesome, inquisitive, curious, and soul-seeking, all at once, like the artist that he was. Perhaps, you’ve heard of him? While his name is not on par with Van Gogh and Rembrandt, by the early-20th century, he had harnessed a reigning recognition of his own amongst portrait-seekers. After all, Chandor was the kind of artist who was commissioned to paint President Hoover and President Franklin and Lady Roosevelt and Winston Churchill with not only aplomb but also a dictated elegance.
“Then, why are we going to Weatherford?” you ask, as I’m driving down past Fort Worth. “Shouldn’t we be visiting the National Portrait Gallery? That’s where some of his work is, after all.”
I shake my head. I’m not going to show you his canvas work. Today, I want you to bear witness to the one of the greatest odes to lasting love. Imagine every romantic film you can, right now. What comes to mind? The Titanic? The Notebook? Pride and Prejudice? Well, this tale has an element from every romantic drama possible. And it starts with a small town girl.
Her name was Ina Kuteman. Kuteman was a Weatherford native and the wife of Douglas Chandor. And when Kuteman married Chandor, she persuaded him to settle down in Weatherford and build their home right there, in that small town. It was then that Chandor struck the idea of constructing a piece of living, breathing, growing piece of artwork. The Chandor home had approximately four acres of garden space. Over the next 16 years, Chandor obsessed over what was originally White Shadows, an English garden with Asian motifs. Chandor wanted to inspire a love of artwork, but moreover gardening. He painted a picture as alive as any portrait, with new meaning at every twist and turn.
White Shadows remained Douglas’s passion until his death (I apologize if I ever led you to believe this love story was about Douglas and his wife). And Ina Kuteman, in fond memory of her husband, renamed the gardens Chandor Gardens. The gardens were kept open to the public until her death.
Then, they were closed and left neglected. Picture overgrown weeds, branches desperate for trimming, murky waters, and lonely beds of flowers. That was Chandor Gardens for the next sixteen years until the Bradfords, a young Texan couple, purchased the gardens and drove every effort into their restoration. They brought back the beauty, the elegance, and the detail that was Chandor Gardens. Now, the City of Weatherford owns the property, but I’m sure you still want to see the gardens that inspired such an intensity of love.
Chandor’s beauty lies in the details. You have to look – everywhere. The experience forces you to breathe in the moment. It forces you to escape and concentrate. There might be a carving etched into the cobbled path or a statue hidden high amongst the branches of the old-growth trees. If we simply walked through, we’d be finished in a few minutes. But if we search, we will fall in love with the beauty of the landscape.
We spend hours strolling through the two acre expanse, marvelling at the fusion of Asian and English gardening styles. It really is quite a fairytale pocket.
Weatherford is also home to more expansive Clark Gardens (I’m starting to think this town has a gardening obsession). It’s a pretty stroll, but slightly underwhelming after visiting Chandor. If you’re looking for more gardens (okay, gardening obsession officially confirmed), there are the Majestic Gardens in Capernaum Village, a complete recreation of a 1st century Biblical Village. Occasionally, there are multiple Holy Land (the one in Florida, by the way) style events with reenacted scenes from the Bible, carrying the experience beyond the architecture.
Chandor Gardens: 711 W Lee Ave, Website
Clark Gardens: 567 Maddux Rd, Weatherford, TX 76088, Website
Capernaum Village: 10700 FM 920, Weatherford, TX 76088, Website
Where to Shop in Weatherford?
Since we’re in Weatherford, we naturally have to go antique store shopping in downtown. Of course, the best antique shops are right across from the eye-catching courthouse (if all local courthouses had the same colour scheme, people might not be so scared to walk in). Back to Yesterday has a medley of vintage and modern items and much of the selection changes seasonally. There are several other stores that round the blocks and side-streets, so we casually flit and out, eyeing the items.
Our second shopping option is First Market Trade Day. The market is large, but nowhere are grand as Canton’s market. We look through the tents for an hour and chat with the locals (as a note, Weatherford residents are in small town denial. Just tell them it’s a lovely big city and they will be more than happy).
We start to feel a little hungry as it nears late afternoon, but I have one more stop to take you to before supper. Weatherford is in Parker County, the one Texas county known for its peaches. We stop by at the Farmer’s Market for some fresh peach jam and preserves to cross off this bucket list item.
Back to Yesterday: 112 E Church St
First Market Trade Day: 119 Palo Pinto St
Farmer’s Market: 217 Fort Worth Hwy
Where to Eat in Weatherford?
Of course, peaches won’t satisfy our Texas-sized appetites. The most unique restaurant in Weatherford has to be the Shed. I must admit that fresh baked bread and mouth-watering salads may sound like an everyday phenomenon, but the Shed takes these plain-named dishes and transforms them into artisan treats fit for any foodie. The Shed is set in the corner of David’s Stove Shop, a large store selling everything from gardening supplies to iron art. So yes, we will have to wind our way through the odds and ends to find it, but that just adds to the experience. As a warning, parking and backing out is mildly difficult as the store is set right off the highway.
Now that we’ve satisfied our appetite, it is time for dessert. Weatherford is home to a darling malt shop, simply titled Malt Shop, within the city. The establishment is small and decently priced but its pink exterior and minimalist logo draws us right in.
The Shed (in David’s Stove Shop): 4019 Fort Worth Hwy
Malt Shop: 2028 Fort Worth Hwy
Did you enjoy this guide to Weatherford TX? Have you ever visited? Let me know in the comments below!