Explore the timeline below to learn about Lighthouse Fort Worth from the breaking of ground to the successes of Lighthouse today.
Life was extremely hard for Fort Worth citizens during the Great Depression but perhaps even more difficult for individuals who were blind. The biggest challenge was earning a living wage.
The Texas Commission for the Blind sent Willie Fay Lewis to Fort Worth and charged her with the assignment of “finding a handful of blind people and see what she could do to help them.”
Operating in a six-room house at 1710 Washington, a persistent Mrs. Lewis organized a small group of blind workers in the production of pillowcases, rugs, brooms and mops, other hand-sewn items and the caning of chairs. Considered the first Executive Director, Mrs. Lewis’ goal was to encourage and empower members of the blind community to become independent and productive through gainful employment.
In addition to the production workers, blind salesmen canvassed the Fort Worth community,
going door to door in welcoming neighborhoods selling the locally made mops and brooms. A small retail store was also opened.
Thanks to Mrs. Lewis, Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth was the first Lighthouse in the nation to pay their employees a standard hourly rate, making a significant statement about the rights of all employees being entitled to fair treatment and fair wages in any workplace.
In 1952, the organization became officially known as the Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth and moved to its present location at 912 W. Broadway.
The Lighthouse and Blind Children’s Service Center merged in 1966 to become Tarrant County Association for the Blind.
In the early 1970’s, change came to the Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth.
Robert W. Mosteller was named President in 1973 and under his leadership the Lighthouse transformed from a small manufacturer of mops and brooms
to a manufacturer of paper products, shipping containers and military products.
In 1974, Wayne Pound, an advocate for people with all disabilities, joined the Lighthouse team as Vice President of Community Services/Development.
Lewis House, a resident facility for multi-disabled residents including 20 Lighthouse employees, opened on Lipscomb Avenue.
Named for Lighthouse founder, Willie Fay Lewis, it was the first facility of its kind in the state to provide
safe surroundings and a congenial atmosphere for its residents. The Lewis House closed in 2002.
The partnership between the Lighthouse and Southwestern Bell Telephone Pioneers in hosting visually impaired youth at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo began.
Fort Worth Cowtown Roadrunners beep baseball team won the championship title at the World Series of Baseball for the Blind. Team players included Jerry Burns, Oscar Nelson, Leonard Walker, Pete Parra, Scott Hudson, Ben Marin, Steve Marsh, Roy Eubanks, Jerry Cockrell and Ivory Walker.
More room was needed for operations and in 1988, 27,000 square feet was added for manufacturing operations, bringing the size of the total facility to 80,000 square feet.
A new era began at the Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth in October 2008 when Platt Allen, III became President/CEO.
With the goal of continuing the legacy of Willie Fay Lewis, Allen’s priority was and continues to be working with the board and the Lighthouse team to be the number one Tarrant County employer
of individuals who are blind and to be a world class resource for people who are blind and their families.
Lighthouse was recognized as the AbilityOne Vendor of the Year by DLA for its support of troops during the Afghanistan and Iraq deployments by supplying Energy Dissipating Pads for tactical airdrops.
Whether it is a retired teacher on the west side who is dealing with Macular Degeneration or a young boy in Arlington who has been diagnosed with Juvenile Batten disease or a 37 year old husband and father recently diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa who wants to return to the workforce earning a
competitive income for his family or one of their very own employees who has been blind since birth, the Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth stands ready to provide quality vocational, social and rehabilitation services at no cost to anyone whose life has been affected by vision loss.