Old Fort Worth Building Architectural Elements Sculptures
Posted 07 April 2008 - 09:57 AM
Thanks in advance for any information you may have to share.
Posted 07 April 2008 - 11:25 AM
As you can see, the designs are similar. Hopefully, some other historians might be able to determine the building where these were removed.
Posted 07 April 2008 - 11:48 AM
Posted 07 April 2008 - 08:36 PM
I flipped through some of the Jack White photos on John's main site hoping to see them. No luck, although the one at the top of the Egypt Theater looked close at first glance.
Is there anything we can tell based on the style and composition? Can we guess what period they would most likely have been used as architectural ornamentation in Fort Worth? Can we guess what architectural style or styles would most likely sport a couple of noggins such as these?
Any period costume people on tonight? What kind of head gear is that? Just curious.
Posted 02 May 2008 - 08:06 PM
Posted 02 May 2008 - 08:19 PM
Actually it was pnewburn that observed that the rock heads seemed to match. I just tried to get the two threads to reference each other.
A little later, when I have some free time, I'm going to kick myself in the fanny for not catching the match after looking through at least half of the Jack White photos on John's main site.
Posted 04 May 2008 - 12:14 PM
Posted 04 May 2008 - 01:53 PM
This would make a GREAT STORY for some JOURNALISTIC WEBSITES or PRINT MEDIA.
Perhaps a TV news spot.
Great job, I love it. And hope they go back on where they came from.
Interested in knowing more about how that FW Resi got a hold of em.
Thanks in advance for any information you may have to share.
Posted 04 May 2008 - 03:16 PM
Posted 06 May 2008 - 11:04 PM
Posted 07 May 2008 - 11:03 AM
Posted 07 May 2008 - 11:47 AM
Here is a guess: considering the mindset behind those responsible for the vandalization of that building's base and countless others during that period, some person here in Fort Worth who wasn't afraid to speak and act on his individual judgment probably thought it would be a shame for them to end up as landfill material which is what happened to all sorts of beautiful stuff on grounds that it was "old" and therefore bad. So the person probably asked for them - and the construction workers probably humored him accordingly. No doubt that this person was regarded as being a bit eccentric at best - a reactionary fuddy duddy who was not on board with the spirit of "progress" and had a lame sentimental attachment to such outdated concepts as beauty, craftsmanship and the bizarre notion that important buildings should be grand and actually LOOK like they are important. He was also right and those responsible for the vandalization, along with the dominant, trendy and "hip" and utterly bankrupt post World War II aesthetic mindset which motivated them, were dead wrong - something that becomes increasingly obvious with the passage of time.
Posted 07 May 2008 - 12:34 PM
Oh, the condescension of those arrogant modernist construction workers and their Brutalist notions! Tools of Le Corbusier!
Intellectuals think they're so damned smart.
Posted 07 May 2008 - 12:52 PM
Err, yeah. Got a little off-topic there, I guess.
- Architecture/urban planning/transit blogger, Fort Worth Weekly
Fort Worth District 9 Zoning Commissioner
Posted 07 May 2008 - 01:26 PM
Here is a guess: considering the mindset behind those responsible for the vandalization of that building's base and countless others during that period, some person here in Fort Worth who wasn't afraid to speak and act on his individual judgment probably thought it would be a shame for them to end up as landfill material which is what happened to all sorts of beautiful stuff on grounds that it was "old" and therefore bad.
That or perhaps he thought they would look cool in his garden.
Posted 07 May 2008 - 02:14 PM
I agree with him, too, about the attitudes and the odious architecture. I don't think the attitudes were common among average folk, though, except to the degree they bought into what was being pumped by the pumpers of architectural and artistic ideologies. Also probably some of that common yearning to be perceived to be as moderne as the next city or town.
And I don't think he was actually implying that it was the construction workers who condescended. The juxtaposition of the contruction workers and the snobbery, though, was just fun to play with.
Posted 07 May 2008 - 06:29 PM
Maybe XTO can design the EYE's to glow red or amber. COOL!
Or better yet, they should enclose one of the heads in glass once the front lobby of 714 MAIN is finished.
I love it because it somewhat reminds me of Tommy Trojan. FIGHT ON!
Quick John, let's get a "714 MAIN Romanesque Guard Mask EMOTICON" on this baby!
Posted 07 May 2008 - 09:09 PM
Posted 07 May 2008 - 10:19 PM
When I wrote the comment I had two premises in mind:
1) That the construction workers might have had an attitude somewhat along the lines of an amused and friendly: "Look, mister, if we take the heads out in one piece and set them aside for you, will you promise to quit pestering us and let us get back to work?"
2) Because of the attitudes of the time, the person wanting the heads might very well not have even needed to bother to contact the owners of the building in order to get them. He could have just shown up at the very last minute on demolition day and simply ask nobody of higher authority than one of the hired hands on the construction crew who would have otherwise shattered them to bits minutes later.
As for my comment about the person being regarded as an eccentric fuddy duddy, I did not mean to imply that it was the construction workers who would regard him as that but rather the dominant mindset of the period. But I can see how they way I wrote it did not make that especially clear.
Posted 07 May 2008 - 11:25 PM
We have carted much less distinctive "rubble" home: a large hunk of the old main library acquired with a pickup truck and wheelbarrow and just a leeeetle bit of demolition fence crossing; and some nice slabs of the tile '"rug" that was the Reynolds House porch floor that was easily, mournfully gathered (Summit Ave. Disaster aka Reynold & Morton house demolitions). We can't resist bits of Fort Worth. They look cool in our garden
Posted 08 May 2008 - 02:00 AM
I agree in that I think that there were a lot of people who saw what was going on and privately hated it. But to the degree they would have spoken up about it, they would have been laughed down or met with derisive sneers. So, as a result, many people kept silent.
Furthermore, ordinary everyday people back then really did not have many opportunities to speak out. Sure, they could write a letter to the editor - which might have been published in a severely edited down version and then promptly forgotten about. Venues such as blogs, personal websites and forums such as this one simply did not exist. It wasn't until the proposal to destroy Grand Central Station came along before the voices of those who were disgusted with what was happening were able to come onto the radar.
Some of the reason certain people were reluctant to speak out, no doubt, was nothing more than cowardice - they were afraid that other people might disapprove so they sacrificed their own standards and judgment in order to appease the people around them. But I think there were a great many others who disagreed but found it a bit intimidating to speak out for reasons other than mere cowardice.
In the 1950s, there were plenty of old timers still around who came of age during the horse and buggy era. Those who did not witness first hand the breathtaking technological and economic progress that had taken place since then no doubt heard about it in detail from their parents and grandparents. "Progress" was something that people marveled at and were thankful for.
During the great skyscraper boom of the 1920s, when an older building was torn down, people usually did not talk about how beautiful the old building was or of the need for historical preservation. The only sadness that was usually expressed was the same emotion that people today speak with when they see the decline and most likely eventual demise of, say, Six Flags Mall. There is NOTHING special about Six Flags Mall from an architectural standpoint. But people have memories of spending time there during its heyday and thus have a sentimental fondness for it. So if/when the thing is knocked down, there will be people who will find it sad. That was pretty much the emotion expressed when old buildings were demolished in the 1920s. Back then, it was almost axiomatic that the new building that would replace it would be bigger, more grand, more beautiful and better in every way. And, during the 1920s, they usually were.
Whenever you read about people in the 1950s and 1960s expressing sadness about the destruction of beautiful old buildings and how the new ones were sterile and ugly, one almost always reads quotes where they immediately dismiss their aesthetic judgments with comments such as: "That's progress, I guess." or "You can't fight progress." They were brought up to regard anything put forth as "progress" as something to be valued and certainly never questioned. The problem is it apparently never occurred to many to ask: Is the new building they are putting up, in fact, progress? Or is it merely a pretentious fraud that is being perpetrated under the mantle of "progress"? Rather than having the intellectual confidence that their aesthetic judgment mighty actually be valid and correct and to stand by it, they automatically assumed that they must somehow be in the wrong and that their judgment was nothing more than the same subjective sentimentalism that people who were teenagers in the 1970s might feel for Six Flags mall.
There was also another factor that I think enabled the aesthetic fraud to be put over on people: People in the 1950s had an almost insatiable appetite for anything that was "new" - and for reasons which are entirely understandable.
If you look at the skyline photo of Fort Worth or almost any other big city from the early 1950s, you will find it almost unchanged from a skyline photo of the same city from the early 1930s when the last of the skyscrapers that were being planned when the crash of '29 occurred were completed.
The effects of the Depression lingered on throughout the entire 1930s decade and, contrary to the myth that "World War II got us out of the Depression" most people's standard of living actually went down further with the onset of World War II and the epidemic shortages and rationing. The problem during the Depression was many people lacked jobs and money to buy stuff with - though there was never a shortage of stuff to buy. During World War II, jobs were available and people had plenty of money, but they couldn't buy anything. Basic everyday items such as sugar, meat, gasoline and anything made out of rubber were in short supply and rationed. Other items such as automobiles and phonographs simply were not manufactured at all, their factories having been converted to war related manufacturing. Once the war was over, it took, in some cases, up to four years before the shortages came to an end and for all of the items which went out of production to come back.
So basically, adults of the early 1950s had gone through a period of almost 20 years having to deal with an environment of constant scarcity brought about by a bad economy followed by even more scarcity brought about by wartime shortages and rationing. During that period, a great many people considered themselves lucky if they had the ability to buy their basic necessities. For most people, making significant upgrades to their lifestyles, their furniture, their homes, etc. was simply out of the question. Items such as clothes, furniture and cars tended to be replaced only when they had completely worn out and usually at great hardship.
The same was true for businesses - it was often a challenge to simply keep the doors open. For example, most large hotels in the USA went though bankruptcy reorganization at some point during the 1930s and those that didn't struggled. During the 1930s hotels rarely spend money upgrading rooms and furniture as the wear and tear by the guests began to take its toll - and during the 1940s, it was impossible for them to upgrade because of the shortages. By contrast, a few years ago when they upgraded the furniture, carpet and wall paper in the rooms at the Blackstone, it was mentioned in the paper that Marriott requires all hotel operators to set aside a certain percentage of revenue in order to fund complete upgrades to all of the rooms every eight years. Imagine what a hotel would be like after 20 years of deferred maintenance. That was the state of many otherwise grand big city hotels in the years following World War II. Same was true with retail stores - think of the last time you walked into a store or restaurant that had obviously not been spruced up since 1988 or longer.
That was the state of pretty much everything in the country by the late 1940s. Then the improved economy of the 1950s arrived and many people, often for the very first time in their adult lives, suddenly had money to actually buy things beyond the bare necessities. After decades of living in a country that was having to "make do" with so many things left over from the prosperous years before 1929, the very LAST thing they wanted was more of the same. They did NOT regard the 1930s with fondness - they called them the "dirty '30s." And, as a result of the hardships of the '30s, many looked back on the prosperity and styles of the 1920s as an era of unrealistic frivolity.
People in the 1950s wanted something NEW and something DIFFERENT. They certainly got it. The problem is that, when the ONLY merit that something can claim to offer is the fact that it is "new" and "different" - well, chances are pretty good that it does not have a whole lot of merit to begin with.
The period in which one lives definitely DOES play a part in one's tastes and perspectives. In the 1950s, beautiful pre World War II buildings were as commonplace as ugly 1970s buildings are today - so I think that also desensitized a lot of people to what was happening right in front of them. Sometimes it is hard to appreciate that which one, unfortunately, takes for granted.
In my own case, when I was a child, the utter ugliness of the 1960s and 1970s was still a very much dominant part of everyday life. It wasn't just buildings, it was clothes, advertisements, furniture and even product labels that looked butt ugly and trashy. It was in that world that I discovered at more or less the same time old recordings, old photographs, old buildings and other surviving reminders of the world that existed prior to World War II. The contrast between the two worlds was, to me, simply incredible. For me, the emotional experience was as if I had suddenly discovered this wonderful, lost civilization that was, in so many ways, superior to the world around me. And, being a kid, I was eager to share that discovery with anybody who would listen to me gush on and on about it. I never really expected kids my own age to be enthusiastic about it - but what I could not understand at the time was how most grown ups, including those who were old enough to have lived in the "Golden Era," not only did not share my enthusiasm but were sometimes extremely dismissive of it. It wasn't until the Internet came along and I was an adult before I ran across others who shared my passion for the pre World War II decades - and the vast majority of them are NOT people who are older than myself. Most are around my age or younger. It would be accurate to say that my love for so much of the pre World War II decades is a direct result of my having grown up in the squalid aftermath of the late 1960s/1970s and the utter revulsion I felt for so much of it.
Today's enthusiasts of the 1920s and 1930s did not experience the hardships of those decades - such hardships are merely something one reads about in the history books. The aspects of those decades that people like myself are passionate about are the very things that people who lived back then took for granted - things that were destroyed or, at the very least, came under heavy assault in the decades following World War II. By contrast, during those same decades following World War II, many of the people who came of age in the late 1920s and the 1930s were so busy trying to enjoy the benefits of the first semblance of affluence they had ever experienced in their adult lives that they were too distracted to notice or care that the buildings being put up were sterile and ugly.
New York's Roxy Theatre
Roxy Theatre Lobby
Movie star Gloria Swanson, who DID have an appreciation for the Golden Era she was part of, posing in the ruins of the Roxy during its demolition in 1960.
Posted 13 May 2008 - 12:55 PM
Posted 13 May 2008 - 10:33 PM
John Eric, I am sincerely not doubting the sincerity of the family on this point, but I have to say that if I had pieces of a building that was about to be restored by a natural gas company flush with the spoils of this economy's energy sector, a company with a history of meticulous restoration, I'd be tempted to feign a disinclination to sell.
I share the hope that they will at least be open to XTO's examination and measurement of the artifacts. I don't think much is lost if the originals aren't incorporated in the project, save a very nice and satisfying little story to go along with the restored fašade.
Posted 14 May 2008 - 02:19 AM
This doesn't leave the FWFORUM.
I'm up for a little Tom Foolery here in swapping the heads out with some decent FAKES, under the cover of darkness of course.
Perhaps incorporate the TROJAN HORSE method??? Sorry.
Sounds like a job to be sponsored by XTO.
Posted 14 May 2008 - 07:25 AM
Posted 14 May 2008 - 10:19 AM
Gee - it sounds like I might have been on to something in my little speculation about the motives and nature of the person who initially saved them from destruction.
Posted 14 May 2008 - 10:46 AM
Well, a couple of points:
1. You admit you're an antiquities dealer.
2. After decades of the pieces gathering dust, junk, and/or sitting in a garden, you posted the pics asking "Anyone know where these came from?" within less than a month of their provenance being put on public display in downtown FW.
3. There was no doubt among anyone familiar with XTO that the building's base would be restored.
I don't care one way or the other, I've got no dog in this hunt... but it's unbecoming to feign shock that someone might question your motives.
Posted 14 May 2008 - 12:59 PM
Well, I think those original head pieces had to have been manufactured to scale by some company who may still have the design records on file. And if XTO are good stewards of renovating the base, then they probably already have someone on the hunt for the original specs, not so much the originals. One original head piece would look great on display in the entry way lobby. But I would rather see some remakes of this design perhaps with an added glowing eyes feature or have them ever so slightly turn directionaly (Left, Middle and Right) every 15 minutes or so. Perhaps incorporate some metal to the upgraded design.
There is no reason why XTO of all the gas exploration companies cannot reproduce this design just by looking at the picture provided to us. And I'm glad I replied to that exact original post in full (reshowing the pic), as my post with the image "shouldn't" be able to be deleted by JE.
Posted 22 May 2008 - 06:38 PM
I knew there was a possibility you would think that I doubt the sincerity of the owners so I tried to make it clear that I do not. I have no reason to doubt them. I'm just saying, if it were me, I'd try to maintain my poker face - and I don't think there would be anything wrong with that.
In any case, the timing of the find and the restoration make a neat little story.
Crikey, SAFly, why don't you change the faces to Washington, Lincoln, and the Roosevelts and have them sing "It's a Small World"?
Seriously, if you don't get help at Charter, please get help somewhere.
(I'm just funnin' ya, but I'm not putting one of those little yellow happy thingies on my response.)
Posted 23 May 2008 - 06:13 PM
I'm all the way up here in the SKYSCRAPER Member Box and you are just sooo not near this.
Posted 23 May 2008 - 09:49 PM
Posted 24 May 2008 - 09:13 PM
So. My version of these pieces of art should still get the green light. Comparing my upgrades to the 714MAIN original Roman guard headpieces and to that of defacing Mt. Rushmore is not even an argument worth making. But I would light up Mt. Rushmore too and add a mighty INDIAN CHIEF.
Of course the sculptors personal philosophy on American views has some controversy and would NEVER have landed him the contract or federal financing to do the job these days.
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