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#109253 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 07 March 2018 - 11:25 AM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

Thanks, John. Just yesterday afternoon, a neighbor down the street informed me that a property owner (in the 1000 Samuels  block)  there had sold two of his properties in January and had two others under contract. Another individual who owns a popular downtown convenience store and gas station stopped by and spoke with me as well yesterday. He openly wondered why Samuels Avenue has no retail component.  (pre-development it had two convenience stores and a restaurant) That indicated to me he was thinking about some type of retail venture on the available land in this small neighborhood. He thanked me for the information and said he knew how to contact me. We are not too concerned because as the S-T article indicated, we've been low key marketing our property for (over) a decade. When and if a sale happens, we will deal with the situation then. Not so long ago, old house properties on Samuels were for all practical purposes unmarketable. I have to wonder how many more new apartments will the downtown market require before market saturation occurs? Many of these new downtown apartments have rents equivalent to the mortgage payments in the suburbs so the number of prospective tenants is finite in my opinion. I especially wonder about the new Condo tower near Henderson-conventional wisdom is that the upscale market for downtown condos is fairly small. But that is a topic for another thread so I'll leave that for now. Should further developments take place on Samuels I'll be sure to post updates on this thread.

#109234 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 06 March 2018 - 02:47 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

Forum member and Samuels Avenue resident/advocate, John S., always gets his licks in whenever he can. smile.gif



Mr. Burton, I hope you don't mind the quote because I'm back here to get a few more "licks in" before the old neighborhood and our presence in it disappear. As I sit here typing, the sounds of nail guns and heavy equipment reverberate off the bedroom walls. The S-T article seemed fair and balanced overall. The die for Samuels Avenue/Rock Island neighborhood change was cast when the late Marion Burda sold his 27 rental properties to developers back in 2003.  Now, there's no remaining vestige of those 40 or so small cottages and medium size homes that once stood there. At least the distinctive Charles E. Nash Elementary School remains as a historical reference point and reminder of the neighborhood's past. Today, development continues southward with one project by Carleton Properties (to be called "Rocklyn") underway as well as Embrey Development's 353 unit "community" getting close to the halfway mark.


I regret that the decision was made to leave us out but hopefully the last wagon out of town hasn't left us forever stranded and alone as the sole homeowners remaining on our block. City planners and Council people would be wise to take into consideration the welfare of longtime homeowners when evaluating future development projects. We had almost no say in the approval process and much of what has occurred since the project broke ground wasn't readily apparent from the documents I've read. On the balance, though, our experience hasn't been too unpleasant although we continue to wish that promised and approved infrastructural work would be completed in a timely manner. The renovation and re-purposing of the Garvey House for offices has nearly reached completion with the new stone retaining wall incorporating large Limestone blocks saved from the original retaining wall. The re-landscaped "Great lawn" seen in early renderings is now beginning to take shape as well. Sometime next year, the Embrey built apartments should be ready for leasing. The smaller "Rocklyn" apartment  project is supposed to be completed around the same time. I would encourage developers now looking around the Samuels neighborhood to consider taking Embrey's innovative approach of adaptive re-use and moving significant historic homes as a model to be followed. If done properly, Samuels Avenue should not fear becoming one monolithic mass of apartments from one end to the other. 


I've recently been in contact with the new owner of the Talbott-Wall house and applaud his appreciation for the neighborhood's history and architectural legacy. His goal appears to be to make the Talbott-Wall house as period correct as he can while working on a budget and making the house function as his new home. A shame it took someone coming all the way from Illinois to buy this unique property, but the market for saved and moved historic dwellings in Fort Worth appears to be relatively small. The 1904 turreted Queen Anne Greathouse near the Fairmount-Southside District was quietly lost to demolition for new development several months ago because there were no takers despite a fair amount of media coverage as well as several available financial incentives.

I'm tempted to assume that the stigma against the old Victorian styles of architecture commonly held from the 20th century hasn't completely gone away. Let's hope our few remaining examples from this long ago era will be kept standing because compared to other cities our size, we've lost nearly everything from the 19th century.  I'm old enough to remember when most folks looked at old Victorians and disdainfully called them monstrosities, albatrosses, white elephants and the always favorite: "eyesores". It makes me wonder whether the architecture being built today will suffer from the same level of disrespect as it ages. But most modern architecture is built on the planned obsolescence model. No one expect these apartments now under construction to still be around a century or even 50 years from now. That philosophic stand is one of the major differences between the buildings and homes of the past and today's rapidly built structures. There's no point I'm trying to make except to help understand why things are changing in our oldest of Fort Worth neighborhoods. Let's hope others will give it some thought before its all gone forever. 

#107445 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 22 November 2017 - 02:01 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation


Well as someone who grew up in "Rock Island" My parents bought a home in 1960......Me and my brothers mockingly say we grew up in the "The Bluffs" Witch was a name a developer used in the area about ten years ago. 


 The neighborhood could legitimately be coined "Old Town".


With the flood of new apartments under construction or coming in the months ahead, the historical identify of the neighborhood is being diluted. At least its good that some of the more prominent historic homes are being saved and given a chance to survive into the future.

#107444 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 22 November 2017 - 01:58 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

The Talbott-Wall House is now featured on the national old house website Old House Dreams: https://www.oldhouse...-fort-worth-tx/

One can see in the comments on Old House Dreams website below the house post that Mr. Bailey, the new owner, alluded to a pending sale about two weeks ago. I congratulate the new owners on their excellent choice of properties. Prior to choosing the Talbott-Wall House, the Baileys had looked at a Second Empire style house in Fulton, Mo., and recently a Queen Anne style house in Lebanon KY before deciding to settle here. I wish them many happy years ahead in this beautiful turn of the last century Samuels Avenue home, They will be only the second family to own it since it was built in 1903. One reason the house remained so intact is because it stayed in that one family for 115 years. Not many houses in Fort Worth can make such a claim. We look forward to meeting the Baileys in the days ahead and welcome them to our neighborhood.

#106623 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 14 October 2017 - 12:30 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation


I believe it went before ZC last week.






ZC-17-176 Burshears 1102 Samuels D/DUDD to E/DUDD   10/11/17 11/07/17


Thanks for the information. It will be interesting to see what the end use of this historic home is.

#106614 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 13 October 2017 - 08:40 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

You can have it for $300k


Considering that some of the properties located on the opposite side of the street from it are on the market for an asking price of around $45 per square foot, the buyer of this property may have some "instant equity" or at least the potential for value appreciation.

#106613 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 13 October 2017 - 08:33 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

There's a sign for a zoning change request for the Talbott-Wall House posted on the property. Anyone know what that is about? I've always thought it would make for a great Law Office considering that lawyers had come from the family. As Samuels Avenue gradually transitions to predominantly an apartments neighborhood, some hope for the surviving period homes might be found in their adaptive reuse as offices (such as the historic Garvey House now being renovated and adapted as leasing and management offices for the under construction Embrey Development apartments project) ) or, for other commercial uses. The Downtown Design Review guidelines requiring new construction to be at least three stories in height almost precludes new single family private residences. Perhaps individual townhomes would still fit into that category. I expect this neighborhood transition to be gradual and unlikely to accelerate until the TRV-Panther Island project nears completion. On a side note, there's a temporary sign in the yard of the Garvey House indicating the new street just paved to the south of the house is going to be called Garvey Lane. There is already a Garvey Street just off Cold Springs Road across from Arnold Park. The late William Garvey would probably have been pleased to be so honored.

#106378 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 04 October 2017 - 02:00 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

The Talbott-Wall House is now featured on the national old house website Old House Dreams: https://www.oldhouse...-fort-worth-tx/

#104158 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 09 July 2017 - 02:40 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

JohnS, the total list I posted includes 2 properties on the east side of Samuels, one south and one east of the TW House. I think there might also be one in the court that is listed. Others in the court have considered listing their properties but are kind of waiting to see what happens to the others first.


In the transitioning situation we have at the moment in the Samuels Avenue/Rock Island neighborhood waiting and seeing what comes next is about all we can do. Logically, the east side of Samuels (away from the west side where the bluff overlooks the Trinity River) is less coveted than the bluff side. however, from from a development perspective, the level, regular lots located there are just as suitable for construction as were those on the east side of the street near Nash Elementary School. Only the downtown views are limited and admittedly the frequent trains can be noisy, (they are on the Bluff side too) but as far as location and nearness to the downtown, they are the same as the west (Bluff) side. I expect that once the Bluff side is fully redeveloped-and I won't even hazard a guess as to how long that might take-then the east side of the street between Samuels Avenue and the BNSF railroad tracks will begin to be bought up for development. As stated in my previous post, it took about 15 years for development to reach northward to the 900 block of Samuels (there was also a Recession during that time) so I wouldn't advise anyone to start packing up their things yet. I had once thought that by now we would have sold and moved on, and it could still happen, but it would be foolish for me to try to guesstimate when. Developers aren't known for sharing their plans with the public until a long planned project is almost ready to break ground. Even then, sudden changes in market conditions and other unforeseen changes can alter the timelines or even lead to a project being shelved indefinitely. The best approach in my opinion is to take a cautious wait and see position which includes not making any plans until a property is under contract with a firm closing date. Some of the properties Embrey Development bought were pending under a sales contract for well over a year. That is quite a different buying/selling approach than is customary in the general housing/residential marketplace. Those property owners contemplating selling should also be wary of anyone calling, making them an up front (usually low) phone offer, as well as promising a very quick closing.  We've had a couple of those already. In any case, Andy, good luck if you decide to sell your properties. Otherwise, its nice to have you as a neighbor.

#104118 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 07 July 2017 - 11:23 AM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

This house just got set down in the middle of 13+ acres (at least 10 houses by my count) that are currently up for sale and prime candidates for demolition and redevelopment. I'd say that is moving from the fire into the frying pan.


That is true but there are other factors to consider. First, all of those properties listed together with a commercial broker near the newly relocated Talbott-Wall House are decidedly premium priced compared to the prices received for sold properties on Samuels in the past. Please correct me if I'm wrong but I believe those 10 properties are in the $45 per square foot range, well above the levels paid and sought for other Samuels properties closer to downtown. Put another way, they are not priced for quick sale or could be considered bargains. That alone should keep future development and the prospects of becoming endangered again at bay, at least for a number of years. No matter what levels of development occur in the future on Samuels Avenue and Rock Island, I believe there will always be a number of properties where the risk of future development is low. For now, its appears the relocated Talbott-Wall house may have many useful years ahead, perhaps not always as a private residence but possibly as offices or some other compatible use. The first signs of Samuels/Rock Island redevelopment appeared around 2004 so it has taken well over a decade to reach its current levels. Apartments are being built around the downtown core at a dizzying pace right now with much of the future development to be focused around the TRV Panther Island area. At this point, I don't see the relocation of the Talbott-Wall house as being impermanent. The market for downtown apartments is finite and with everything now in the pipeline under construction amounting to thousands of units I think its probable for the pace to level off in the next few years. I have no crystal ball so we will have to see how everything plays out going forward. I have mixed feelings about the Embrey Development but I also believe it was necessary at some point to connect the redeveloped south end of the neighborhood with the undeveloped northern area and that is now happening.

#104087 1904 Great house House

Posted by John S. on 06 July 2017 - 09:13 AM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

Sad to learn about the loss but not unexpected. I receive a lot of input from various sources about preservation and endangered historic structures nationwide. I can attest that many old structures are currently being lost across the country. Samuels Avenue could be considered transitioning away from its historic character and in coming years will likely only have a small number of historic homes remaining. But on the positive side, the Garvey House at 769 Samuels is being renovated to be adaptively reused as a leasing office for Embrey Development's new 353 unit apartment complex. In the category of a major (and rare) preservation success story is the removal and relocation of the 1903 Talbott-Wall House from 915 Samuels Avenue to the 1000 block. I do hope before the 1904 Greathouse on Washington St. was demolished that whatever valuable historic house parts it contained were salvaged. The two houses on Bennett Street (part of the new Embrey Development Apartments) were salvaged at the last minute and some parts like Shiplap walls/ceilings and old dimensional lumber were lost when time ran out. In my opinion, if they can't be saved, those old houses containing valuable salvage should at least be allowed the removal of historic elements so that the loss is not total. Successful salvaging requires a proactive approach. I'm hoping that the couple of old houses in the path of "Rocklyn" the new apartments project in the 600 block of Samuels  by Carleton Properties (due to break ground in September, according to a Carleton official) will be salvaged before their demolition.

In summary, I'm not sure what lessons can be learned from the loss of the 1904 Greathouse except that with each structural loss Fort Worth loses a piece of its past forever.

#103345 Trinity Bluffs Urban Residences

Posted by John S. on 28 May 2017 - 01:18 PM in Residential

Just curious, is there a separate message thread on the recently re-announced Carleton Properties apartments project titled "Rocklyn" in the 600 block of Samuels Avenue? The prior project was announced in October 2013 but was ultimately cancelled or shelved a year or two ago. An informal neighborhood meeting with a Carleton representative a couple of weeks ago revealed a new design with more units planned than were in the previous project. The ground breaking is supposed to happen by September with completion coinciding around the same time as the Embrey Development project (variously called The Garvey House Apartments; The Kelley, and The Domain)  which begins at 761 Samuels and continues to the 900 block on the west side of Samuels.  I will be happy to scan and send or try to upload the "Rocklyn" conceptual drawing if it hasn't already been linked to. When asked why the name "Rocklyn" was selected for the project the Carelton official said it was based on the "Rock Island" name (part of the neighborhood has been informally called Rock Island for decades because of the former Rock Island railroad tracks that run through the neighborhood. However, I'm not sure the west side of the 600 block of Samuels was ever considered part of the traditional Rock Island area. Still, I'm Ok with the new name and I like the new design better than the cancelled version from 2013.

#103310 Domain at the Bluff (10.8 Acres/353 Unit Multi-family)

Posted by John S. on 25 May 2017 - 03:50 PM in Residential

Did the name change on this project? I've seen some articles calling this The Kelley at Samuels? Maybe the thread title needs to be updated. If I recall correctly, the Kelleys were the last owners of the Garvey-Viehl house.

 I too wondered about the name change when I read the article. The late Gordon and Brenda Kelley were early preservationists on Samuels Avenue with them buying the Garvey House in 1972, if I recall correctly. Mr. Kelley was instrumental in the first historic resources survey of Samuels Avenue in the late 1970's. (many of the houses in this rare survey are no longer extant; they provide an idea about the magnitude of losses since the 1970's) The two Kelley sons/brothers resided on the Garvey House property until they sold to an investor several years ago. I'm sure the Kelleys would be pleased to have their names memorialized in this manner. They saw potential in the Garvey House and the surrounding neighborhood at a time when few others did. Brenda Kelley was a spirited, colorful character and her enthusiasm about the preservation of the old homes on Samuels Avenue was helpful in convincing my spouse and I to buy our 1889 home on Samuels in 1989.  When she asked me to engage in historic research about the Garvey House I did not hesitate to consent. It was a preservation high point when the RTHL (Registered Texas Historic Landmark) dedication occurred with former House Speaker Jim Wright and Judge Tom Vandergriff were present. In summary, either The Garvey House Apartments, or The Kelley would both be appropriate.  I would expect to see some kind of official sign soon on the newly cleared land announcing the upcoming apartments. (maybe the intended name will be revealed as well)

#103303 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 25 May 2017 - 01:37 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

In the many years I've been involved in historic preservation issues, moving the Talbott-Wall House is one of the most gratifying victories and saves to date. I too would like to add my personal thanks to the many individuals who helped take the Talbott-Wall House rescue plan to fruition. (By the way, John, I was told a potential buyer for the Talbott-Wall house is available but I'll PM you on that) John is correct in that back in the early 1990's the Texas Historical Commission's architectural historian, Tory Laughlin-Taylor, visited Samuels Avenue and she concluded there were too few surviving and contributing historic structures for a contiguous historic district on Samuels. Instead, she proposed there could have been individual property nominations for inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places. On the other hand, a number of prominent and long time neighborhood property owners were downright hostile towards any suggestion or plan made to preserve the historic character of Samuels Avenue. From this group of anti-preservation minded property owners, came the initial land sales to developers around 2003-2004. With that action, the present and future redevelopment path was established. The Recession years of the last decade merely provided a short reprieve, but now development city-wide is again in full swing. At this point, its unlikely that any plan, except a piecemeal approach, can guaranty the survival of the remaining historic homes on the west side of Samuels. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 but from my personal observations two things presently stand out from which future lessons can be learned.


First, I believe that once the scope of a development project has been identified, those historic structures in the path of development should be proactively and thoroughly salvaged if moving them is not feasible. Workers removing historic/period elements were busy right up until sunset late yesterday trying to get salvage materials taken out of the two cottages near the intersection of Bennett and Locust streets. Some useful additional materials should have been salvaged prior to hazmat remediation such as posts/columns, period windows, doors, and period door hardware. Unpainted door and window casings/trim were removed by the hazmat workers and placed in a pile next to the white cottage, However,  later, before they could be reclaimed, they were scooped up and disappeared into dump trucks. I managed to salvage a few of these trim pieces but a better timed and carefully coordinated salvage plan should have been put into place. Certainly its a moot point now as both cottages were disintegrated within 30 minutes early this morning. Now their remains are on their way to a permanent home in the landfill.


Second, the last and largest (Post?) Oak tree was brought down a few minutes ago near the northwest corner of Samuels and Locust streets. A trench was excavated next to the large tree and after some of the larger limbs were dismembered, pressure by the huge excavator was put on the main trunk causing the century old Oak (probably older as it was larger than some of our trees which were growing when a circa 1910 photo was taken of our 1889 home. )  to topple to the ground with a loud crash. Some Cedar-Elm trees of dubious merit were marked and saved but both Live and Post/Pin Oaks trees were destroyed. I still maintain that if such mature trees must go, at the very least they should have been harvested for their hardwood lumber. (for firewood if nothing else) Quarter-sawn Oak boards cost a fortune these days if you can find any. But now that the largest Oak is down (a few other damaged Oak tree trunks have been pushed off to the sides) that too is no longer a relevant topic for discussion. Happily, the ancient Heritage Oak near Bennett street is being preserved and integrated into the apartment complex design.

Overall, I can't complain much because Embrey Development has more than met local requests to save what could be saved. The Garvey House is shrouded in plastic sheeting right now but like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, the refreshed exterior should soon be a sight to see. 


Speaking of inspiring sights, the newly cleared views of downtown from the rise where Bennett and Morrison streets meet are nothing short of stunning. One can view the entire downtown skyline with the panoramic view ending on the northwest with the channel of the Trinity River. In the many years we've lived in the Samuels Avenue-Rock Island neighborhood, I wasn't aware such beautiful vistas existed.

Thanks again for everyone's efforts to help save one of our neighborhood's architectural gems. I also applaud Embrey Development for demonstrating that the goals of development and historic preservation are not always mutually exclusive.

#103134 Domain at the Bluff (10.8 Acres/353 Unit Multi-family)

Posted by John S. on 17 May 2017 - 03:48 PM in Residential

There appears to be some movement on this project as it looks like some demolition and or salvage operation has begun at the house at the intersection of Locust and Samuels. John S probably has a better idea of the extent.


As for the possible relocation of the  Talbott-Wall House, the lot where it might be relocated to was surveyed a few weeks ago and the sale was completed to the new owner on March 17th. At around 1:30 today the buried utilities marked with paint and pinflags. It looks like this house might actually be saved.


The Domain apartment project has prompted a group of residents to put list their houses as a group effort. The listing is at https://www.austinco...09-samuels-ave/


Frankly, I'm astounded by the asking price for the 13 acres...$1,960,200.00 per acre! But that may have been the plan all along to price the land so high that only a major developer with a big budget would consider spending such a large sum. I could envision such land values in the downtown core or perhaps in some high market demand areas of Dallas or its northern suburbs. The highest price I'm aware of that has been paid (for a .46 acre lot) so far is $800K or $40 per square foot but the average price for land purchased is less than $30 per square foot. (based on information shared by the sellers) When Tom Struhs was buying land in the neighborhood over a decade ago, he paid $35 per square foot for a few choice properties. (information shared with me by the sellers) Other lots were bargain priced so all in all it was a pretty good deal from a developer's standpoint. Land prices for projects of this kind vary depending on the eagerness of the seller and the buyer. One only has to look in the Hillside neighborhood off East 4th to find properties that either were not made available for purchase or were priced too high to make their redevelopment economically feasible. I sincerely wish those folks on the northern end of Samuels Avenue good luck. Should they find a buyer at that price point, then we may have to raise our selling price but our present goal is to sell our corner lot for a fair price and, during our lifetime.

#103131 Domain at the Bluff (10.8 Acres/353 Unit Multi-family)

Posted by John S. on 17 May 2017 - 02:14 PM in Residential

Thanks Andy for creating this separate message topic.


The next time I see you I may ask for your assistance in linking to Flickr photos for display here that I've taken over the past couple of weeks. As you noted, the Rominger House, at 905 Samuels is completely gone and is now returned to raw land. A small c. 1960 Crackerbox type cottage in the middle (west side) of Bennett Street is gone and it's lot now smoothed over. Adjacent to the Garvey House (769 Samuels Ave.) on the west, the two garage apartments are gone. I winced a bit to see thousands of antique bricks set in soft lime mortar (easily scraped clean with a putty knife and ready for re-use) loaded up with an excavator bucket and sent off yesterday to the landfill. I personally believe that garage apartment to the north was older, maybe from the Garvey era. (1915 or earlier) The bottom floor walls were constructed of red bricks four or five courses thick, and it may have originally been used as a carriage house. Anyhow, it and all the bricks are now gone so any discussion about the matter is a moot point. The two small cottages near the corner of Bennett and Locust sit partial deconstructed. The white house of this pair dates from the early 1900's and features shiplap boards for walls and ceilings (Joanna Gaines of HGTV's Fixer Upper fame would swoon over this house full of shiplap) It also had six turned posts that I wanted four of them to reuse for our front porch but the hazmat remediation crew removed them and put them in a closed and padlocked container/dumpster headed for a hazmat disposal site. I tried to persuade one of the Embrey Development site managers to recover the posts but was told his hands were tied in the matter. If any of these posts had any lead paint residue it would have been minimal because I recall a neighborhood handyman scraped them down to bare wood and repainted them a couple of times in recent years. Again, yet another moot point. The small previously painted and sided red cottage due south has rare plank wall construction under a layer of vinyl siding and under an older layer of Cypress clapboards. (undoubtedly they were painted with lead based paint)  However, the vertical planks which support the roof are unpainted, rough sawn nominally 1" thick Southern Yellow Pine 12 inches wide, and were nailed to the roof and foundation framing with square cut nails. (almost for certain dating from earlier than 1900) The Stick Style front gable ornamental window hood was destroyed by the crew as has been part of the porch ornamental work which matches the pattern of the ornamental work on the window hood. Both were heavily encrusted with thick old paint but they could be heat stripped with an infrared heat plate and repainted. It's my understanding that these two cottages will be gone by May 24th. Given that the protected Heritage Live Oak is directly behind the plank wall cottage, it makes sense to me to not use heavy equipment but rather to have a crew dismantle the house and salvage the plank ("barnwood") walls which might sell in an architectural boutique setting for $50 a plank or more. Some beefy dimensional floor joists (nailed together with square nails) could probably be salvaged as well but the Developers are decidedly not in the architectural salvage business. The owner of a southside business which sells old house parts came by earlier today but not sure if there's anything left that makes economic sense to salvage. A lot of hard physical labor and time go into deconstructing an old house so few are so disposed of. 


Last, the back two rooms on the Garvey House were demo'ed yesterday. The 1886 Bird's-eye map of Fort Worth with a sub-section showing Samuels Avenue shows a small two room cottage on the Garvey House site at that time. It had an open porch with turned posts facing south. The much larger Queen Anne style residence was added in the late 1890's with a mix of stylistic details including Classical/Colonial Revival that was very popular at that time. It showed up in one of the Swartz Bros.'  Fort Worth "Souvenir" photo booklets in 1901 along with other fine Fort Worth residences of that time. Mr. (William B.) Garvey had his grocery business at 214 Main during this period but later sold the grocery business and became an agent for fire insurance policies. That makes me wonder if there had been a fire in the Garvey House at one time because when I helped a former owner make roof repairs on the now demolished back portion, some of the attic rafters were scorched in places. It always seemed a little odd to me that the Garveys, who had no children, went from a 600-700 square foot cottage in the early 1880's to a 3,000 sq, foot Queen Anne in the late 1890's.  (Mrs. Garvey received a gift of land from her parents, Isaac and Mary Cornelia Foster in 1883) Perhaps a larger house was built sometime in-between the early 1880's and late 1890's but was lost to fire? The Fosters resided in the large Italianate style house next door to the south at 761 Samuels. (in poor condition, it was demolished around 2003) It is my understanding that Embrey intends to add on to the back of the Garvey House and have a three story wall of windows facing west. Since its at the back, the new addition shouldn't compromise the historic front facade of the state and city landmarked home.  Today, a 1960's duplex to the north of 915 Samuesl is being demo'ed. The Talbott-Wall house now sits several feet above the ground on steel beams awaiting its move which is dependent on the concrete piers and foundation being ready two blocks to the north at the northeast corner of Samuels and Pavilion.  By the end of May, the demolition/moving phase of this apartments project should be completed. I look forward to the new apartment construction although the demolition activity has generated a lot of dust. Both my spouse and I have had dust cold symptoms over the past several days but the demo work immediately near us is thankfully completed.

#103032 Gem on Samuels Ave. - The Garvey House

Posted by John S. on 11 May 2017 - 11:02 AM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

The c. 1910 Rominger House at 905 Samuels is no more. Demolition of the house began right after 7 AM  (its just feet away from our bedroom window)    and now, nearing 11:30 AM, only the chimney remains standing. I and several of my neighbors as well as stopping-by onlookers have taken photos of the demolition but if you've seen one house reduced to rubble by huge pieces of equipment then you've seen them all. I've nicknamed the large excavator with a vicious biting bucket "Jaws" as observing it in action makes it easy to understand why. In just a couple of hours, this 3,000 foot Foursquare type house was rapidly reduced to fine rubble. There are still about 4 houses to go for demolition then two garage apartments await the same behind the Garvey House. Changes to the Garvey House include removal of a back portion to be replaced with a wall of glass on the back side facing west. In the meantime, H.D. Snow and crew are preparing the 1903 Talbott-Wall house for its move. The latest I've heard is that the move is being scheduled for early next week but I also noticed that no concrete work has occurred at the home's new site at the corner of Samuels and Pavilion Streets. A cured out concrete foundation must be ready before the house can be moved and placed down on it. Or, perhaps the house is moved over the foundation framework and then the concrete work is done? It's my understanding about the Garvey House (769 Samuels) that all of the Cypress clapboard siding will be removed and replaced with Hardie synthetic boards having matching clapboard profiles. I believe that the Kelley family tried to scrape all of the old paint off the house after they bought it in 1972 but lead based paint was still available then so it could still have lead paint contamination. When "Jaws" was using its heavy bucket to pound and break out the concrete in the bottom of the swimming pool at 905 Samuels yesterday, every time the bucket hit the bottom, our house shook. I hope no damage has occurred to our 125+ year old fragile foundation. Otherwise, the momentum seems to be picking up with this large apartment project.

#102917 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 09 May 2017 - 12:17 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

Many thanks to JBB for posting the two photos I wanted to share regarding 915 Samuels, the Talbott-Wall House. Is there any Q & A section of the Forum which clearly explains how to link to photos so they will be displayed on these pages?


John, perhaps only a few here truly realize how much time (sitting in on many meetings between the Developer, the City, and the Corps of Engineers) and effort have been put into trying to save as many historic homes and resources as possible in the path of new development on Samuels Avenue, the oldest of Fort Worth neighborhoods. Saving the Talbott-Wall House (and giving it a promising future of being fully restored) as well as the Garvey House are the high points of this unlikely cooperative effort between a Developer and a local historic preservation organization. Such mutually beneficial alliances between developers and historic preservation organizations are quite rare from my experience.


Portland, Oregon, for example, is in the midst of an unprecedented development boom that has put severe pressure on the town's limited collection of historic homes. It was not unusual in recent years for late 19th or early 20th century cottages to be bought up and summarily demolished to clear the way for new development. This development driven tear-down phenomenon became so prevalent that the City of Portland enacted an ordinance requiring dismantlement and salvage of any structure dating from 1910 or earlier. (not sure it is still in place or not)


The former Rominger House at 905 Samuels-a Foursquare type house from the early 1900s-has been largely gutted by the former owners who were aware that demolition is its eventual fate. It's my understanding that the fine staircase was either sold or donated to an entity in the Stockyards. The small vinyl clad cottage (called the Stephen Terry House in the resources survey book) west of/or behind the Rominger House has been stripped bare inside as part of the hazardous materials remediation. The freshly revealed walls and ceilings are of shiplap boards (Joanna Gaines of HGTV's Fixer Upper show would love them) but the unpainted reclaimed door and window casings/trim are removed and sitting in a pile outside (they should be moved to a dry storage facility, ASAP)

Now, the small red vinyl clad cottage next door on Bennett Street is also bare inside. 2 x 4" Framing remains in place where the ceiling heights had been lowered from the original 12 feet height. (I need to share a photo I took but I won't post yet another Flickr link) However,  the original 6" wide beaded board ceilings remain. Also remaining are vertical full one inch thick by 12 or more inches wide dimensional rough sawn Southern Yellow pine planks. (unpainted) In this most economical of 19th century construction methods, (commonly called "Plank wall" construction) the vertical planks themselves function as the framing with full dimensional 2"x  Pine framing used only for the roof and foundation framework. From the square cut nails used to attach them, I expect that the structure has to date to 1890 or perhaps a decade earlier. I think this now safe from hazardous materials house should be or rather should have been dismantled rather than soon smashed into splinters but I'm keenly aware that the developer has demanding deadlines and timetables to be met. I expect that an experienced crew could dismantle the small house within a week or less and could reclaim scores of these very old wide Yellow Pine planks with exquisite old growth grain patterns. The foundation sills and joists are also of old growth Southern Yellow Pine all in full dimensional sizes. (Where's Brent Hull when you need him?) The house sits on Bois d'arc blocks in contact with the ground.  Bois d'arc blocks were commonly used in early Texas houses for foundation support due to that particular species being impervious to fungal rot and insect damage.


In any case, I feel that the salvaging part of this project could have been somewhat better coordinated but I would also expect that any additional work causing further delay would now be unacceptable. Time is money for projects of this kind; the funding for such multi-million dollar projects accrues interest daily so even one day's delay can amount to a substantial interest amount owed. All in all, I think that the developer for this project (Embrey Development) has been nearly exemplary in the way they have handled these sensitive on-site issues. My spouse and I appreciate the courteous and informative discussions they have shared with us in recent weeks. One of our biggest concerns was how would this project right next door to us impact our daily lives but I now feel less of a concern because of the consideration shown by the developer's reps and their contractors. (special thanks are due to Jason Partain, Embrey's project engineer) Thanks as well again goes to Historic Fort Worth, Inc. for taking quick action to save the historic resources that could be saved on these privately owned properties. "Win-Win" is an overused term but I think it is applicable here.

#102902 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 08 May 2017 - 04:43 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

Today, H.D, Snow moving company people showed up on the site of 915 Samuels I'll try to link to a couple of photos: (link upload feature is not working, sorry) https://www.flickr.c...57615591961865/   and 


 They brought to the site some enormous steel beams and began putting them in place under the Talbott-Wall house. I asked one workman about the rusticated man-made concrete foundation blocks being taken out from the foundation and he said it was his understanding they were going with the house to be reused in the restoration of the structure. In the early 1900's trade magazines like The National Builder and Carpentry & Building were full of ads for home based businesses using metal molds they were selling so buyers could get into the concrete block business. . Entire concrete houses were built using these manufactured blocks.-I suspect one or more rusticated concrete block homes might still be extant in Fort Worth. I've seen a fair number of early 1900's concrete block houses in my travels which is a testament of their durability.


The hazardous materials removal crew finished their work on the two houses at the corner of Locust and Bennett Streets as well as the small 1960's "Crackerbox" type house in the middle of Bennett street. Today, they moved over to work on  the two garage apartments behind the Garvey House. Demolition company signs have been posted in front of the aforementioned houses so their days are truly numbered. One employee quipped: "after waiting seven months for construction work to begin, we are finally almost there." I too am ready to see something besides gutted houses awaiting demolition.

#102821 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 04 May 2017 - 11:10 AM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

John S., thank you for letting us know about all of the hidden items and about harvesting the Pecan wood.  In some ways, I wish there could have been a little more coordination between the parties involved, yet on the other hand, in order to save and move the house, the trees have to go.  Also, I'm not 100% sure if the trees weren't planned to be removed by Embrey's contractors for the construction of the apartments.  Embrey is planning to save the major trees on the site.  If I get up there before the house is moved, I will knock on your door.  I've been pretty busy this week, and I have been intending to see what was happening, but I haven't been able to make it.


Andy, things are beginning to fall into place. 


Thanks for your input, John. If anyone reading this post either has or knows of someone with the capability to harvest the large Pecan tree wood, the window of opportunity to do so is narrow, probably from now until May 15th. Any effort to recover the wood must be coordinated with the Embrey Development officials working onsite (such as Jason Partain, Jason White, or Brian) Embrey Development has been exemplary in being respectful and considerate towards us as this apartments project currently begins to ramp up. Now, if I could only somehow convince them that they need our property.... I did give Mr. Partain an impromptu tour of our 1889 home this morning and he said it should be worthy of saving and moving if we ever did sell the lot. In summary, John, I'd welcome speaking with you about current activities in the neighborhood if you happen to visit the neighborhood. I'll also post and link to a couple of photos concerning 905 and 915 Samuels soon.


There is one specific tree, designated as a "Heritage Oak" that is located behind one of the houses on Bennett Street. While the Developer's plan is to save it and retain it as a landscaping focal point in the new Apartments development,  if somehow it were threatened, I'd literally chain myself to the tree to save it and I'm decidedly not a tree-hugger type. But it is one of the few surviving huge Live Oak trees known to the very first settlers arriving in Fort Worth when the north end of Samuels Avenue itself was known from early maps as Live Oak Point. It would truly be a tragedy to lose any of these remaining living links to the origins of our City. I hope with the current and coming new development that these few surviving very large Live Oak trees (almost all are hundreds of years old)  will receive the public's respect and protection that they deserve. It's almost in the miracle category that the fabled Traders Oak tree remains alive at Traders Oak Park. (on the north end of Samuels Avenue on the east side of the street before Samuels dips down going towards the Stockyards.) The feeling of connecting with our history is almost palpable as you stand under the canopy of limbs from this direct living link to the earliest origins of our community.

#102792 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 03 May 2017 - 09:45 AM in Historic Buildings and Preservation


I spoke to Jason Partain and Jason White as well as their site manager Brian from Embrey Development this morning about the on-going activity near the corner of Locust and Bennett streets. There was an unusual reveal that occurred as part of the current hazardous materials remediation-the original carriage house/barn was uncovered under the later stucco in the back of the Rominger House at 905 Samuels. After I called him, the former tenant of this structure came by to see it this morning and even though he had resided there for over 10 years, he never knew the old structure was encased under the stucco. I did take a couple of photos of it and will link to them in a couple of days. 915 Samuels, the Talbott-Wall House, now looks very similar to the early photo at the beginning of this thread. The effort to move the house north about two blocks should now proceed in earnest.


I do have a somewhat related question: at 915 Samuels there was a very old Spruce tree likely planted by Dr. Talbott around the time of his home's construction.(1903)  I noticed now it is completely gone. Also, behind the Rominger house at 905 Samuels are some very large, mature pecan trees...one in particular has a trunk width of two feet or greater, its relative straight, and has a harvestable timber section of about 15 feet that could be cut and using a portable sawmill type machine could be rough-sawn into usable wide Pecan wood planks. If anyone questions the practicality of such a harvest, please go by a hardwoods supplier and take note what their Pecan wood planks sell for. Afterwards, you'll realize there's a small fortune in Pecan wood available for harvesting if someone was set up to do so. Otherwise, it seems like a big waste of a relatively scarce and valuable wood resource. Just my two cents worth.

#102740 Talbott-Wall House 915 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 01 May 2017 - 05:23 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

My apologies about the Talbott surname spelling mistake from 2011. We've been out of state for the past week and I have not had time today to look at the steps being taken to prepare the Talbott-Wall House for its move. In the meantime, 905 Samuels and the two small turn of the last century cottages at the corner where Locust and Bennett intersects are being tented in plastic for hazardous materials remediation. I expect the next step to actually be demolition but I've heard no time mentioned for that to happen. I sincerely appreciate both the visible and behind the scenes efforts of Historic Fort Worth to reduce the number of historic home losses on Samuels Avenue.

#102525 Trinity Bluffs

Posted by John S. on 21 April 2017 - 07:55 AM in Residential

Haven't heard anything on the Carlton Properties project in many years, but there is a 274 unit building called "Rocklyn Apartments" listed on DFWI's website now - http://www.dfwi.org/...klyn-apartments

That address can't be correct as 761 Samuels is shown as part of the Garvey House apartments project by Embrey Development. The lot, although large for Samuels, is inadequate for 274 units unless it goes vertical for 10 stories or so. Carleton Properties (maybe the same as "Carlton"?) announced in Oct. 2013 an apartment project for the 500-600 blocks of Samuels (opposite Pioneers Rest cemetery) then apparently they cancelled it last year. It could be they are going to make another try for that site. I'm always surprised to learn there are so many announced projects that do not come to fruition. The aforementioned Garvey House Apartments project by Embrey is moving forward albeit with glacial slowness. I don't expect to see any construction activity before late summer or later. I expect therefore it may be this time next year or later before leasing units begins. I hope "Rocklyn" does come to fruition as the long vacant lots opposite the cemetery present a look of neglect after being fenced around for years.

#101845 1904 Great house House

Posted by John S. on 24 March 2017 - 04:23 PM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

The Greathouse property is not listed on Historic Fort Worth's website right now because there are some issues.  They are being fixed as we speak, but I don't know how long it will take.


As for the houses on Samuels Avenue, there is work to save as many of the homes as possible.


Thanks, John, for everything you and the other folks at Historic Fort Worth, Inc. are doing.

#101822 1904 Great house House

Posted by John S. on 23 March 2017 - 09:47 AM in Historic Buildings and Preservation

In recent days, I received in my inbox a notification from Historic Fort Worth, Inc. about the extremely endangered 1904 Greathouse citing that time is running short to rescue this late towered Queen Anne style gem slated for demolition in a few weeks. I went over to the Historic Fort Worth website to see if I could somehow link to the notice and share it with a larger audience that might be able to rescue it prior to demolition, but nothing was found. For years, I have regularly participated on a website called Old House Dreams http://www.oldhousedreams.com  that has a national reach aimed at old house enthusiasts looking to buy historic homes. I wanted to link to the Historic Fort Worth pending demolition/rescue notice and I will if there's a link to this notice somewhere. Unless a last minute local preservation hero is waiting in the wings to save the Greathouse residence, surely there's no harm in trying to share its plight with a larger sympathetic audience.


Somewhat related, its my understanding that demolition work targeting several historic properties in the Samuels Avenue neighborhood will commence in a few days for a pending apartments project. I saw some contractor types walking around over the past couple of days inspecting the properties targeted for demolition so I believe my information is accurate. I will try to photograph the demolition activity for documentary purposes.

It's somewhat sad to see the very small number of Fort Worth's surviving Victorian era residences being reduced further in numbers for pending new development. Unfortunately, that urban tear-down trend seems to be a national phenomenon in cities experiencing rapid growth.