2020: Mans Best Field Dog Park
610 W. Broad Street
Mans Best Field Dog Park is the city's only off-leash dog park, with paddocks featuring lush woods and rolling hills for puppy play.
Mans Best Field Dog Park sits on the homestead of one of the city’s founding fathers, Ralph Man. He built the home for his family between the years 1865-1870. The oldest known building in Mansfield, it stands as an important local landmark. Over a five-year period, Man enlarged and remodeled the home from a one-room frontier log house to a comfortable upper middle-class residence.
Originally, the house only consisted of a one-room log house, built in 1865. In 1867, Man built a second, brick addition on the east side of the cabin containing a parlor and a dining room. An open dogtrot, or breezeway, ran between the two portions of the house. Around 1870, the breezeway was enclosed when Man added a second story to the house to accommodate three bedrooms. The final addition to the house came in 1930 when the porch on the rear of the house was enclosed to create a service porch and bathroom.
The property exchanged hands a few times over the next several decades, until the city purchased the entire 12-acre tract in 2009 for historic preservation. In 2018, the property was selected by Mansfield City Council as the best location for the city’s first dog park. The heavy, established trees and rolling, rocky hills would make for a great playground for pups, but prove difficult and expensive for any other development use. By sharing the property with Historical Services, the two departments could share resources and costs, completing both a park development and historic preservation with more efficient use of time and money.
Mans Best Field Dog Park opened on June 10, 2020 to the delight of tail-waggers across the city.
The two acres containing the homestead and historic barn were fenced off from the dog park and its paddocks, and in 2020, the City of Mansfield undertook the restoration of the house to stabilize the historic structure and remove some modern modifications. A shake shingle roof, like the original, replaced a modern metal roof. A new fieldstone chimney on the west side of the house replaced the original which fell prior to 1968. Work on the interior of the home included painting the rooms in their original colors and exposing the logs from the original log house. Today, the house looks much like it did when the Man family was in residence. The restored home opened as a museum in December 2020.
Development and Improvements
In 2021, the Man House added an Information Center in the space adjacent to both the historic property and the dog park. That building houses public restrooms open to visitors of both sites.
The name, Mans Best Field, came at the suggestion of a resident upon hearing of the property’s historic significance. It is not only a playground for “man's best friend” but also the very best field owned by Mr. Man. And, the best new park in Mans-Field… a triple play on the pun scale and an instant winner!
Of course, the Man in Mans Best Field refers to City founding father, Ralph Man. The son of a brick maker, Ralph spent his youth as an apprentice carpenter. He left Charleston at age 22 to move west. He traveled to Georgia, then Louisiana and finally Harrison Co, TX in around 1850. There he met his future business partner Julian Feild as well as his future in-laws the Boisseau family.
Man and Feild moved to Fort Worth Man around 1854. They lived at Robinson’s Mill on the Clear Fork, 16 miles west of FW. They built a water powered mill along with David Mauch around 1856, the first mill in Fort Worth near the Clear and West Fork of the Trinity. The water mill ground corn and wheat, but was eventually abandoned due to drought.
Man and Feild moved to Walnut Creek where they found the ruins of a horse-powered mill from Charley Turner. The mill and its house were the only structures in what is now Mansfield at that time. In 1859 they built their mill in Mansfield, a brick, 3 story wheat and corn mill powered by a small spring nearby. Mill opened in 1860 and was the first steam-powered mill in Texas.
While Julian Feild eventually left Mansfield, Man lived the rest of his life in the community which became named for him. He was involved in the Cumberland Presbyterian church, giving 3 acres of his land to the church to use as a cemetery. He lived his life as a quiet, well-respected community member and business owner. Ralph Man died November 18, 1906. Man is buried in the local cemetery on the land he gave to the church. His daughter Norma returned to Mansfield in 1898 to manage her father’s home and take care of him until his death. She inherited the house and lived there on and off until 1946.