A Letter from Pam Minick

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Friends keep asking me why I’m so excited about the Hickman family partnership with Majestic Realty on Stockyards Heritage. Some of them have read and even believed negative comments regarding the project, many of which were sensationalized speculation with no truth or fact.


I’ve been in and around the Fort Worth Stockyards nearly every day of the last 33 years. I first came here at the invitation of Steve Murrin to announce an All-Girl Rodeo at Cowtown Coliseum in 1982. Billy Bob’s Texas had just been open a year. There was no Maverick Fine Western Wear clothing store… no Lonesome Dove restaurant… no Cadillac Cantina… the Livestock Exchange Building was in poor repair… and no one walked East on E. Exchange Avenue.

Why? There was nothing but vacant, deteriorating buildings like the Mule Barns. The Sheep and Hog Pens were vacant and filthy. At the top of the hill was the Spaghetti Warehouse, but folks didn’t feel safe to walk between the Coliseum and that area. On the west side of Exchange was the still popular Star Café … there was a restaurant where Pearl’s is now… and lots of bars. In front of Billy Bob’s was a parking lot and to the north – where Cooper’s Barbecue is now – was dimly-lit parking.

The cattle pens were deteriorating. There were homeless people that lived in two metal shacks near Billy Bob’s, who often used the decaying wood from the pens to build fires to keep warm in the winter.

In 1985, Billy Bob’s Texas owner Billy Bob Barnett began to turn the entire Stockyards area into a western-themed entertainment facility. Long-time local property owners were thrilled with the thought of more business. Unfortunately, Barnett’s vision was not realized because he was unable to raise the millions of dollars necessary for development. The honkytonk closed in 1988 – and the dream of more business in the Stockyards appeared to be dying.

Later that year, Holt Hickman provided the major funding to reopen Billy Bob’s Texas – and that’s where I went to work alongside my husband, Billy. I spent the next 23 years working day and night in our Stockyards. In addition to my role at Billy Bob’s, I volunteered on committees, helped raise money for the Fort Worth Police Mounted Patrol barns and became president of Friends of the Fort Worth Herd.

During this time, I learned from Holt Hickman of his fond memories of the Stockyards and watched how he purposefully began his quest to preserve the area. His first acquisition was the Livestock Exchange Building, where he began expensive restoration. The Hog and Sheep Pens came next, turning what was a stale, smelly and dangerous assembly of deteriorating pens into Stockyards Station. Small shops and local restaurants were added, while the charm of the building was preserved for all to enjoy.

Next, Holt recognized that the Horse and Mule Barns needed major attention, so he brought the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame from Hico and the Sterquell Wagon Collection from Amarillo to the Stockyards. Millions of dollars were spent just to bring their building up to code with structural changes, fire prevention sprinklers, new electrical and water supply.

Holt knew the other Mule Barn was also in dire need of repair, but sadly, his health began to fail. Throughout his decline, he remained passionate about his work on for preservation and restoration of the Stockyards, always sharing his vision with his wife Jo, son Brad, and daughter Brenda, as well as several close friends and neighboring business owners.

Billy and I reminded the Hickman family that Holt’s vision for the future of the Stockyards could be realized through our friends at Majestic Realty, who had expressed a deep interest in the Stockyards for nearly two decades. While Majestic is a California-based company, owner and founder Ed Roski is from Oklahoma and is truly a country boy at heart. Like Holt, Ed is a man whose handshake is his bond – the cowboy way.

In honor of Holt and his faith in Majestic being able to help realize his vision, Billy and I are proud to support Stockyards Heritage for the following reasons.

PRESERVE – Stockyards Heritage will continue the dream that Holt had to preserve the Stockyards. Some say “leave the Stockyards alone.” Have you seen what has happened to the charming buildings in the Stockyards that have been left alone? They crumble. Anyone who has a wooden fence knows that 10 to 20 years is about the lifespan of wood left the rain, wind and sun.  Preservation takes money, and Majestic-Hickman is willing to make that investment.

PROTECT – The change of zoning from K1 (heavy industrial) to MU2 (mixed use) will keep more warehouses from being built in the area. I still cringe when I’m at the back of Stockyards Station and you can only hear the sound of heavy machinery at the nearby warehouse. The strict guidelines set by the Historic Stockyards Design Standard Task Force will ensure that area structures keep their original charm.

ENHANCE – As a board member of the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau for eight years, I’ve seen how much visitors love the western heritage and charm they find in the Stockyards. But I’ve also learned is that visitors often check the Stockyards off their “bucket list” and don’t find enough reasons to return. To sustain businesses in the Stockyards, we must give visitors more shopping, more dining and more family-friendly activities.

ENGAGE – The Stockyards Heritage vision includes more open spaces that are people-friendly, more educational activities and a horse arena with demonstrations and displays, where locals and visitors alike can become educated, entertained and engaged.

I ask you to please look at the facts. Before you believe and spread sensationalized statements or rumors, ask some questions. If you truly want the history of the Stockyards to be preserved for generations, there has to be a significant investment.

Billy and I strongly believe that the Hickman family partnership with their Majestic friends are the answer for the future of the Stockyards. Many have fond memories of what the Stockyards once was…we know the heart of what it can be.


Pam Minick

Protecting the Stockyards: Five Things You Need to Know

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Exciting things are happening in the historic Stockyards of Fort Worth, Texas. Local family business – Hickman Companies – has partnered with Majestic Realty Co. to preserve, protect, enhance and engage one of the largest tourist destinations in Texas. As one of the most talked about projects in DFW, five key points stand out.

  1. The primary focus: Hickman Companies’ overall goal is to preserve, protect, enhance and engage the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District that our city is proud to call the “soul” of Fort Worth. Above all things, the primary focus is to keep the Stockyards an authentic and beautiful part of our city’s heritage, and a safe place for families to learn about Texas history and the western lifestyle. Hickman Companies, with the partnership of Majestic Realty Co., plans to accomplish this through strategic enhancements and targeted preservation of buildings that have deteriorated over the course of time, while staying true to the character and history that is the essence of the Stockyards.
  2. Positive changes: From day one, Majestic-Hickman has taken measures to restrict the types of buildings that can be added to the Stockyards District. Prior to this effort, there were extremely limited regulations governing what could be built. Anything from high rises to used car lots could have been built on the Stockyards District grounds. However, through the initial effort of this project, the City and Majestic-Hickman took important steps to add protections to the Stockyards district with more protections on the way.
  3. The project perimeters: While the project will focus on several key areas of the Stockyards, certain elements in the district will not be included in the Heritage project. The Stockyards Coliseum, the iconic Stock Yards gateway sign at the corner of Main Street and Exchange Avenue and other iconic buildings will not be touched. Majestic/Hickman’s key focus will be expanding on the unoccupied lots toward the east of the district and adaptively reusing the Mule Barns and other iconic structures within their property. Efforts will also be geared toward bringing appropriate shops, unique local restaurants, hotels and office tenants to the area.
  4. With preservation comes education: For years, local schools have visited the Fort Worth Stockyards to learn about Texas history, and to see a glimpse of what life was like in decades ago when the Stockyards were a center of western and ranching commerce. While the Herd Cow Camp Program is still running smoothly, some buildings that house numerous field trips throughout the school year are starting to crumble. It will not be long before these buildings age to the point where it is no longer safe for our children to experience certain aspects of the Stockyards history. Majestic-Hickman plan to restore the damage and ensure that these important structures stay intact and safe for years to come.
  5. This isn’t the first Stockyard project for Hickman: Holt Hickman’s heart and soul lives in our city’s Stockyards National Historic District. From housing the Fort Worth Herd on his Stockyard properties at no cost, to investing $1,000,000 in the Livestock Exchange Building renovations, Hickman loved the district just as much as anyone in the community. Hickman Companies chose to take on this project in order to preserve the authenticity that Holt Hickman loved dearly. This is Holt Hickman’s legacy.

Letter from Jo Hickman

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We were driving in the car 30 years ago when my husband looked me in the eye and said, “Honey, we are going to invest in the Stockyards and help save it.”

Holt Hickman did exactly what he said he would do; he worked every day the rest of his life to preserve and honor Fort Worth’s Stockyards – the place he fondly referred to as “the center of the universe.”

image1His love and passion for the Stockyards began in the 1940s when he accompanied his dad there, where they bought and sold livestock. Holt treated every trip as an adventure and explored every inch of the place.

He met businessmen, cowboys and characters. When asked about those childhood trips decades later, he replied to a reporter by saying, “I just loved it. I loved the smells and everything about it.”

Rescuing and preserving the Stockyards meant more than a purchase of some buildings and land.

Holt worked to bring Billy Bob’s back to life after it closed. He purchased the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and moved it from Central Texas to a permanent home in the Stockyards, followed by his purchase of the Sterquell Wagon Collection.

When Jim Lane, our city councilman, championed The Herd – a daily cattle drive in the Stockyards – Holt volunteered to house the Longhorns and ensure their wellbeing free of charge, which is still going on today.

He remained forever grateful to Mr. Lane for this important contribution.

The slow revival of the Stockyards brought such joy to Holt because he loved Fort Worth, and he wanted his grandchildren’s children to know the wonderful Stockyards he experienced as a child.

But with progress and rebirth came the realization that time and weather had taken a cruel toll on “the center of the universe.”

It broke his heart to know that more wear and tear was inevitable and without significant attention and deep investment in preservation and reuse… he just didn’t like to talk about what might happen as rain, wind and sun continued to attack his love.

Enter Mr. Ed Roski in 1997 – Oklahoma native, successful business owner of Majestic Realty, decorated veteran, father, grandfather, and his word and handshake, like Holt’s, never ever to be doubted.

Over many years, their friendship grew until one day my husband said, “Jo, Ed looked me in the eye and said he is willing to partner with us to preserve and enhance the Stockyards.”

Holt was elated. This was the opportunity for his grandchildren’s children to eventually experience the Stockyards as he had. This is the opportunity he desperately sought.

The project he believed in. A partner he trusted. It was another of his gifts to Fort Worth.

About 15 months ago, Holt Hickman appeared before the Fort Worth City Council as it was deliberating the Stockyards opportunity he had brought forward. He had deep respect for those serving our city and felt they deserved to hear from him directly.

As was my husband’s habit for all of his 82 years, he looked them in the eye and committed to each that the Stockyards Heritage Project would preserve and protect the “center of the universe.”

His family and all involved share and own his commitment, and we extend it to every Fort Worth resident, especially to future sons and daughters who will spend time in the Stockyards with their dad or mom, just like Holt did decades ago.

—Mrs. Jo Hickman

Jo and Holt Hickman were married for 60 years, before Holt passed away in 2014. She, her son, daughter and seven grandchildren are partnering with Majestic Realty on several projects across Fort Worth.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram – September 13, 2015 – Page 15B