Sanguinet & Staats designed the original building, which was only 50 feet wide. This building is 11 stories and is one of Fort Worth's early skyscrapers. It was originally designed for the First National Bank of Fort Worth and featured a colonnade entrance on Houston Street. William Miller Sons and Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania built the original structure for the First National Bank of Fort Worth. Wyatt C. Hedrick designed the addition in 1926 that doubled its facade along Houston Street, but at the rear, was only four stories tall. Harry B. Friedman constructed the expansion. As the bank grew, there was a need for a larger building. The First National Bank moved to their new headquarters at 500 W. 7th in 1961. In 1965, the property was sold to investor E.L. Baker. Baker then chose to rename the building after himself. The building is a classical Beaux Arts design; however, in 1967 the entire base of the building was removed and pre-cast concrete panels were installed. The four story section had seven more floors constructed on top of it, bringing the tower to a full quarter block. The original three story banking hall was also destroyed at this time by adding a floor between the mezzanine and the floor above. The architects for the renovation were Hueppelsheuser & White of Fort Worth and Butcher & Sweeney were the General Contractors. This was a good example of how not to renovate an historic skyscraper. In 2003, the building was sold to XTO Energy, owners of the W.T. Waggoner Building. In 2004, work began to remodel the interior. Uncovered behind a 1980's bank renovation, were remnants of the original banking lobby. Portions of decorative beams were uncovered along with the original mezzanine. The three story lobby space is not intact, since that intermediate floor was constructed above the mezzanine. The mezzanine was then used for mechanical equipment and ducts. Very little detailing remains from the original interior with only some of the plaster remaining on the columns and some of the ceilings and beams under the mezzanine. As of October 2, 2004, the interior work has spilled over to the exterior. The 1967 remodeled base has been removed leaving the building's structure exposed in the area that held the original banking lobby. Since October of 2004, a slow and steady construction project has revealed a new base that is very similar to the original one on the building. The restored building was rededicated and renamed the Bob R. Simpson Building on November 3, 2005.
Historic Photographs from the Jack White Collection:
Drug Store on Site Purchased by First National Bank