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Old Photograph of Baker Building

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#1 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:19 PM

Here is my old photograph of the Baker Building taken after the 1926 addition by Wyatt C. Hedrick. This picture is taken from the Jack White Collection. This picture, along with one before 1926, also appears in the Historic Resources Survey of Downtown Fort Worth.

bakerold.jpg



#2 dismuke

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:25 PM

Neat.

Note the rooftop sign for the Star-Telegram. I wonder how it looked at night. I say bring it back - and I am sure the Star-Telegram people would have no objections for the extra publicity.

#3 Doug

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:25 PM

I remember the clock well. anyone where it went?

#4 djeseru

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:25 PM

That's really nice, thank you for posting this. I think it shows an excellent example of Wyatt Hedricks ability to be able to 'fill' Sanguinet and Staats presence there in Fort Worth at that time. It's just interesting how, whomever it was, could go from columns to concrete with this one. As for the clock, hopefully, TCU didn't get a hold of it...

#5 dismuke

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:26 PM

It's just interesting how, whomever it was, could go from columns to concrete with this one.

It is called '60s disease. It was probably done by a hippie or a hippie wannabe.

My theory is that a bunch of hippie thugs such as the Weather Underground was secretly putting LSD into municipal water supplies!

#6 buck

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:36 PM

Anybody know if that old clock is still around? It was in the basement or maybe first floor at the northeast corner as recently as 10 years ago, I think, waiting for re-use somewhere.

#7 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:36 PM

Dismuke, I doubt that the sign could be seen from very far today. The Landmark Tower and the Electric Service Building are both taller than the Baker. But I'm with you. I think a few rooftop signs would liven downtown up. As I mentioned in an earlier thread, the requirements for rooftop signs are the same as if they were on the side of the building. A sign this large would require a variance to be constructed.

Djeseru, you mentioned Hedrick was able to "fill" Sanguinet & Staats presence here in Fort Worth. Hedrick was a part of their firm until they retired; he thereby inherited their practice. Here's an interesting little bit of history. Wyatt Hedrick's grandson is a practicing architect here in Fort Worth today. His name is Ames Fender.

#8 djeseru

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:37 PM

I just noticed the Refro's Drug Store across the street ~ wow, the ornamentation on that one is amazing. Makes the Walgreen's they build today look like something Dismuke's Mr. Phewkey would love...

I'm with you guys, I like the rooftop signs as well. I liked that green 'Hotel Texas' that used to be there. Maybe one day these signs will come back into 'fashion' ~ I sure like that one at the new Bank One parking garage too.

I know, 'fill' is such a weak word! I am one of those who can't think of the appropriate words or response until later, after I've already put my answer out there. It's not easy putting into words the admiration and respect I have for those three - Sanguinet, Staats and Hedrick. And that's fascinating to know that the family still works in the 'business!

#9 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:37 PM

The building where Renfro's Drug Store was located was demolished in the 1950's to build Preston Geren's Electric Service Building (formerly Fort Worth National Bank). Many of the old buildings have some nice decorative features, so don't get me started on the architectural demerits of Walgreen's, Eckerd's, and CVS.

Many years ago, Fort Worth did have some interesting rooftop signs. The last three put up on top of buildings were the old CNB Clock, WSL weather forecaster on the Commerce Building, and the Conoco "Brand" on the Transport Life Building. The CNB clock was the last to be removed in April 2000.

On Wyatt Hedrick's family, Ames Fender is quite proud of his heritage. It is unfortunate that it had to skip a generation before going to Ames.

#10 jmcgee

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:40 PM

I work for the City's video production dept. We tape the Downtown Rotary's club speaker every week and air it. Ames Fender brought a very interesting powerpoint presentation about his grandfather's architectural accomplishments. We've re-run the show a couple of times.

#11 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:40 PM

I've seen the Rotary Club presentation a couple of times. I've known Ames for many years, since we are about the same age and through professional circles.

#12 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:40 PM

I just wanted to say that I feel the Baker Building is in excellent hands since XTO Energy purchased the property. If any owner in Downtown will keep this building in excellent condition, it would be XTO. Just look at what they have done to the W.T. Waggoner Building!

#13 dismuke

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:41 PM

Any word yet on their plans for it? Do you think they might at some point consider fixing up the building's botched up base?

#14 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:41 PM

As far as I know, nothing has been released. The last article in the newspaper just said that they intend to use the building as overflow office space for their company.

#15 brichhart

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:42 PM

Hi All,

I was looking at the Baker today and was suprised that the top excisting floor is the same as the picture.

John, when was that, what I want to call a penthouse, that area just above the ledge of the top floor taken down? It is the area just below the Star-Telegram sign.

Later,

Bryan

#16 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:43 PM

It is still there. I am posting the picture from my web site:

Posted Image

#17 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:43 PM

Bryan, it is a full floor. However, it is probably not as tall as the others. I haven't been up in that level of the building. For example, if all of the middle floors have a ceiling height of 9'-0", then this floor might have a ceiling height of 8'-0".

#18 Urbndwlr FW

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:44 PM

The clock -- it's still there.

#19 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:44 PM

Did you see it?

In some ways that makes sense. The Baker Building was home to the First National Bank of Fort Worth. In 1962, they opened their new home at 500 W. 7th Street, and through a series of mergers and takeovers, the bank became Bank of America. It seems reasonable that they would take the clock and store it in their "new" garage.

#20 STEPHANIE WALTON

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:44 PM

What a beautiful piece of history, im a studing designer and am studing buildings at the moment, i cant belive that such an amazing building was created by hard working people. thanks for the piece of history!!!

#21 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:45 PM

Thank you, Stephanie. Welcome to the forum.

#22 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:45 PM

Over the past few weeks, there has been some demolition going on in the old space occupied by the Fort Worth International Center. When I was by there before, I nothing significant had been uncovered. I looked in the window today and noticed some significant demolition work had been done on the inside. I took some pictures looking into the windows. Part of the 1926 banking lobby ceiling is intact. The second picture answers Dismuke's question on whether any of the original facade remains at the base. With concrete masonry units forming the wall at the corner of the building, it is apparent that the entire exterior wall was removed in 1967.

Posted Image

Posted Image

#23 dismuke

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:46 PM

Neat pictures, John! Thanks for taking and posting them. I will have to go by and take a look.

Over the past few weeks, there has been some demolition going on in the old space occupied by the Fort Worth International Center.

I noticed recently that the Fort Worth International Center has moved into part of the ground floor of the old Fair/Commerce Building. They seem to have a knack for picking locations in grand old buildings with botched up bases!

#24 jonnyrules23

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:46 PM

Does anyone know whats happening in that space? It would be cool if they were restoring the base back to its original grandeur.

#25 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:47 PM

XTO Energy purchased the building in 2003 and they are relocating some of their offices. The Star-Telegram has reported that the ground floor was being renovated when they covered the move of the Fort Worth International Center. However, no official announcement has been made regarding specific plans.

#26 John T Roberts

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Posted 11 April 2004 - 11:13 AM

I looked into the windows yesterday evening and they are now removing the center section of the old Fort Worth International Center. The mezzanine is still present around the old banking lobby and the area in the center is two stories. The columns around the mezzanine are still decorated.

#27 Dismuke

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Posted 11 April 2004 - 02:52 PM

I went by and looked at it last night. Somebody was nice enough to leave all of the lights burning so I perhaps had an even better look at things than one would get in the day.

From what I could see, it looks like they did build a wall around the inside parameter of the old mezzanine. The mezzanine was apparently on the level equal to the awnings on the outside of the current botched up base. It is amazing that so much of it managed to survive intact considering the degree to which it was altered and the mindset of those who would have done such an alteration in the first place.

Looking more closely at the exterior of the building last night, and by comparing the two photos in this thread, I am now beginning to wonder if perhaps some of the old base managed to survive as well on the mezzanine and second floor level - especially on the building's southern facade. If you notice, the tacky modern panels are not on the same alignment with the exterior of the upper floors but rather jut out by a great many inches. This makes me wonder if they just pasted the panels over the old facade. If you look at the southern facade on both photos, one can see how easily that could have been done.

John - on what side of the building was the concrete masonry that you mentioned and included in the photograph? The one that I was able to see was on the western facade about where one of the columns would have once been located. Do you suppose it is possible that the only part of the original base that was removed might have been just the columns? If you look at the old photograph, the windows and outer wall on the eastern facade were a bit recessed when compared to the outer edge of the building as marked by the columns. If you look at the more recent photograph, you will see that the same is true today with the panels extending out roughly in the same places where the columns once stood with the rest of the wall and the windows recessed in roughly the same place it used to be. What I am wondering is if, under the panels, the old exterior walls and window frames still exist. I am wondering if the concrete masonry blocks are simply the ground floor replacements for the columns with the extended edges of the panels serving as their replacement on the mezzanine and second floor levels. If so, why would they have gone through the bother removing the original recessed wall when they could have very easily just covered it over? And if you look at the original southern facade, why would they have needed to demolish any of it other than on the ground floor? The more I think about it, the more the panels look as if they were designed for a paste over job - which to me would be a good indication as to why they look the way they do instead of having a different design. If they did simply past the panels over the old facade, what would they have likely used to hold them in place? If part of the old facade is still in place, do you suppose it would be possible to remove the panels without destroying it?

Also, looking at the remnants of the old banking hall, it appears that it was the victim of an earlier remodel before the ugly facade was put up and the room was completely obscured. If you notice, it looks like somebody at one time covered the ceiling between the decorative beams with square ceiling tiles painted orange. My guess is that the tiles were probably put up sometime after World War II - probably in the 1950s when it was considered fashionable to decorate lobbies of hotels and buildings in really gaudy colors.
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#28 John T Roberts

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Posted 11 April 2004 - 04:44 PM

Dismuke, you were fortunate to go and take a look after dark. When there is light outside, even if it is raining, it is pretty difficult to see with clarity what is happening on the interior. When I took the picture I was in the entrance looking south. The concrete masonry units surround the column adjacent to the glass on the west wall. But if you look directly beyond that, you can see C.M.U. on the south wall of the building where the stone was located in the corner. This leads me to believe that the entire wall was removed on the first floor. I will agree with you that it appears the columns may have been the only elements removed, but when you see that the original brick was removed on the southwest corner, it makes you think the entire wall was removed because the backup material for the stone is "new". You may be right in that the panels were just used to cover over the existing at the mezzanine level. I won't ever be able to tell you until I am able to walk inside the space, or the concrete panels are removed. That remodel was made in my lifetime and I can vaguely remember the old facade, but don't remember the actual construction work taking place to replace it with the concrete panels. I do remember when that work was completed and there was a "grand reopening" for the Baker Building. Everything else escapes my memory. If those panels are merely over the older stone facade, they still would have to be anchored back to the structure of the building in some fashion. In order to do this, probably some of the stone on the second and mezzanine levels would have to be removed. I did also notice the orange ceiling tiles that were very likely a part of an earlier remodel.

#29 Dismuke

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Posted 11 April 2004 - 05:34 PM

I do remember when that work [on the current base] was completed and there was a "grand reopening" for the Baker Building. 

Hmmmm. Well, with that awful base, the reopening of the building would have been anything but "grand." That base is the antithesis of grandeur - as was so much else in the way of architecture at the time. It is amazing that people were once able to be proud of and actually celebrate the fact that they did such a thing. Fortunately, only the lower portion of the building was damaged unlike what happened with the Praetorian Building in Dallas. And fortunately, our culture has improved enough aesthetically that very few people today would say that the current base is, in any way, an improvement over the original.
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#30 John T Roberts

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Posted 11 April 2004 - 05:53 PM

Fortunately, only the lower portion of the building was damaged unlike what happened with the Praetorian Building in Dallas. And fortunately, our culture has improved enough aesthetically that very few people today would say that the current base is, in any way, an improvement over the original.


The Praetorian Building in Dallas was an unfortunate "modernization" of the structure.

I do agree with you that few people today would say the current base of the Baker Building is an improvement over the original. It will be interesting to see how this remodeling project will progress. I think if I saw that there were some parts of the original bank lobby present, as an architect, I would try to guide my client toward restoring the interior rather than remodeling it as the Star-Telegram has indicated that is happening at the moment. Even though many of the decorative beams have large chunks removed from them, there may be enough left to get plaster molds to recreate the remainder of the space. As for the exterior, it remains to be seen if anything is done with the terrible 1967 remodeling of the base.

#31 Dismuke

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Posted 11 April 2004 - 06:33 PM

It will be interesting to see how this remodeling project will progress.  I think if I saw that there were some parts of the original bank lobby present, as an architect, I would try to guide my client toward restoring the interior rather than remodeling it as the Star-Telegram has indicated that is happening at the moment.  Even though many of the decorative beams have large chunks removed from them, there may be enough left to get plaster molds to recreate the remainder of the space. 

Could it be that the writer for the Star-Telegram simply used the word "remodeling" as too broad a term? Some people, quite frankly, don't know the difference between a remodel and a restoration.

There is at least one positive sign: the interior demolition work seems to be stopping at the point where they come to the original details. If they had no concern for the building's historical details, I suspect they would continue to rip stuff out until everything is gutted down to nothing but the structural elements. So, at the very least, my guess is if it is but a mere remodel, they seem to want to at least keep the original elements intact for potential restoration in the future.

The only reason to me it would make sense to not restore the original would be if the building's modern mechanical systems make it impossible to do so. I did notice some air conditioning ducts when I looked inside - but from what I could tell, they were disconnected. In the grand scheme of things, since they are already spending money on redoing the interior, how much extra would it be to restore the original plaster work? From what I can tell, it doesn't look like a restoration would involve extremely expensive materials such as marble. At the very least, they could go for a partial restoration by simply incorporating the surviving remnants of the interior into the final plans. Because of things I have read about XTO and the obvious love the company has for the W.T Waggoner Building, my guess is that they will be as sensitive to the building's history as they can within reasonable limits of practicality.

I do hope that they find a way to include a restored or recreated base in their plans. If they could do so, it would be a huge asset to the appearance of that part of downtown. That '60s facade makes me think of "urban renewal" which makes me think of the decay and blight which followed as a result.

Question: Am I correct in assuming that the building does NOT have a light well? There is no way one can get to the back of the building to see as the Transport Life building is in the way. The original part of the building was narrow enough that I doubt there was a need for one. I would think that creating one when they built the addition would have taken up too much floor space to make the expansion worthwhile. So many buildings of the era, however, had one that it makes me wonder.
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#32 John T Roberts

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Posted 11 April 2004 - 06:53 PM

This is hard to explain. I don't know for sure if the building had one before 1926. However, I looked at my 1942 aerial photograph of downtown and it was "L" shaped at that time. This means that the 1926 addition was 11 stories along Houston, but only two stories in the back quarter of the building. Therefore, a light well was created in the rear of the building. Even though I said I don't remember the construction that created the altered base, I do remember some construction that enclosed the back portion of the building at that same period of time. The building is now nearly square at 100 feet along the Houston Street side and 95 feet along 7th Street.

#33 Dismuke

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Posted 11 April 2004 - 08:37 PM

Wow. If the 1926 addition only went 3/4 the way back, then that must have been an extremely expensive expansion when calculated by the square foot. That's something like 50 x 71.25 = 3562 square feet per floor x 11 floors = 39187 square feet plus the 2375 square feet of the remaining portion of the bottom 2 floors for a grand total of 41,526 square feet of extra space. That's significantly less floor space than most modern supermarkets. I would assume that building the space across 11 floors is much more expensive than building it all as a single story structure.

Another question: What was the primary purpose of the light well? They had electricity and lighting so there wouldn't have been a problem illuminating rooms without windows. Certainly offices with windows rent for more money than those without. But presumably offices facing the light well went for less money than those with more desirable views. Was the rent generated by a light well windowed office more than what they could have received from the extra floor space? I am guessing that the primary purpose of the light well was for ventilation in those pre-air conditioned times. Even with cross ventilation and the "chimney effect" working on the top floor of the Baker Building circa 1928 in August must not have been a very comfortable experience - especially at a time when one was expected to show up for any office job wearing a suit and tie.
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#34 John T Roberts

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Posted 12 April 2004 - 05:49 AM

Dismuke, you are a little off on the size of the addition. The tower section was only about 50' x 50'.

The primary purpose of the light well was for ventilation; however, I'm sure that giving natural light to a space also was a reason, since lighting in those offices was not nearly as brights as it is today. I would imagine that you are accurate in your assumption that working in a high rise building in August without air conditioning was not very comfortable.

#35 John T Roberts

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Posted 12 April 2004 - 09:31 AM

Also, when including a light well, an architect had to take into consideration that the wall of the building that faced the interior of the block and another piece of property, could have another building butted right up against the exterior wall. If a light well was included along this property line, then light and air would reach the offices that normally would not have access to a window once a building was constructed next door.

#36 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 June 2004 - 07:46 AM

When I visiting at the W.T. Waggoner Building, I had an opportunity to learn more about the Baker Building. They had construction photographs of the 1926 addition and it appeared the building did not have a light well. That is rather unusual for a structure of this age. One thing that I thought of that might justify this could be that when they purchased the property to build this building, they might have purchased the two adjoining lots to the north to be used for future expansion. Fort Worth has 25' wide lots in downtown, so for a 50' addition, you would have to purchase two lots. If they controlled the property next door, then they would not have to build a light well that they would later enclose as an addition.

The 1926 addition was 11 stories along Houston Street and four stories toward the alley. In 1967, when they tore off the original facade and mutilated the base with the concrete panels and awnings, they constructed seven more floors on top of the back quarter of the building.
I had also heard rumors that they filled in a new floor where the mezzanine was located. When they started doing the interior demolition, that didn't make sense because the mezzanine was still present. However, the mezzanine has a very low clearance and was used to air condition the space. Also, if you look inside the windows, you can see what appears to be "new construction" at the ceiling level of the old lobby. Shortly after they uncovered all of this, I started looking at the old photograph above. Look at the base and you can see that it was divided into two parts with the upper part being the tallest. I have been allowed to see original pictures of the lobby. It wasn't two stories tall, but three! The mezzanine level had a higher ceiling than the first level. There were only two levels around the bank lobby, but the high section of the lobby had a vaulted ceiling that took up the remainder of the third floor. When the building was remodeled in 1967, they removed all of the ceiling above the lobby and constructed a new floor inside the upper reaches of the old bank, leaving a low mezzanine where they ran mechanical ducts to air condition what was left of the first floor. The building had a beautiful marble floor and about one half of it remains. You can see some of the floor pattern if you look carefully through the construction dust. When originally expanded, this lobby was actually more beautiful than the W.T. Waggoner's! All of this also partially explains why the base of the building was built four stories in the rear in 1926. Above the banking hall, they built another large column free room that acted like some kind of operations center.

#37 Dismuke

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Posted 01 August 2004 - 10:25 PM

I was downtown today and noticed that there is now some sort of netting hanging from the top corners of the building. Also, a window in the hideously ugly 1960s era LSD trip inspired botched up base is boarded up and the awnings on the west side of the base have been removed.

Now, a few weeks ago, in the article about the Transport Life Building someone posted from The Fort Worth Business Press, appeared the following quote from the developer of the Transport Life Building:

“Part of [Baker Building at 711 Houston] renovations include exterior lighting, which Carter Burgess designed; once we learned that, I hired Carter Burgess, too, so we can manage the exterior lighting palette in that area,”


So they plan on lighting up the Baker Building. I wonder what else they have in mind for the exterior. It sure would be nice if they could get rid of that botched up base. Restoring the original would be very nice - but it would probably be very expensive and maybe XTO doesn't want to spend that much money. But at the very least it would be an improvement to put on a base that is at least consistent with the rest of the building, if not historically accurate.

I think it is also exciting that they are going to light up both the Baker and the Transport Life Buildings. Now if the owners of the Fair/Commerce Building would just take down those Christmas lights and illuminate the very beautiful upper floors of their building.

Of course, if XTO decides to keep the ugly 1960s base, they could illuminate it too - in weird, clashing psychedelic colors! And then the owners of the ALICO building in Waco could hire the lighting designer and illuminate its ugly botched up 1960s base in psychedelic colors as well!
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#38 John T Roberts

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 10:50 AM

In doing some research on another historic skyscraper, I ran across an old picture of the Baker Building showing the 1926 expansion. The original 50' wide building did have a light well. When they expanded the building in 1926, part of it remained. In 1967, the remainder of the light well and the rest of the building was filled in to be a square over the back quarter as discussed earlier.

#39 John T Roberts

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Posted 30 September 2004 - 06:14 PM

The awning over the metal canopy is now being removed. It also appears that some sort of demolition is occurring on this metal canopy, as well. This remodeling of the old bank lobby is now progressing somewhat to the exterior of the building, yet no information has been released by XTO.

#40 John T Roberts

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Posted 02 October 2004 - 03:14 PM

It sure would be nice if they could get rid of that botched up base.  Restoring the original would be very nice - but it would probably be very expensive and maybe XTO doesn't want to spend that much money.  But at the very least it would be an improvement to put on a base that is at least consistent with the rest of the building, if not historically accurate.

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Dismuke, your wish has been granted. The 1967 Base was removed on October 2, 2004.
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Unfortunately, the cat is out of the bag and anyone driving or walking by in downtown will know that the remodeling of the Baker Building includes removing the 1967 botched base. XTO still has not formally relased information regarding this exterior renovation, but it is happening.

#41 Dismuke

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Posted 02 October 2004 - 11:02 PM

Dismuke, your wish has been granted.



Yaaay! That is wonderful.

It is also yet another total slap in the face to mid-20th century architectural so-called tastes. It is just one more emperor from that era that has been demonstrated to be totally butt naked - though I have been saying just that ever since (appropriately enough) I was a little kid. One has to wonder what those who actually believed that the 1960s base was somehow an improvement over destroyed original would think of what has just happened.

This afternoon I walked by the Baker Building just as they opened the sidewalk back up and got into a conversation with one of the people who was on the demolition team. He told me that the sidewalk in front of the building will eventually have to be replaced as the building's basement extends underneath it. Another person there told me that, because of the empty space under the sidewalk, they had to be careful not to get the heavy equipment too close to the building.

And for those of you who actually like late 1960s and early 1970s tastes and are sad about what happened, let me be the first to comfort you by making you aware that there is still another building in downtown that has similar aesthetic merit to the base that has just been removed. The building is called One Commerce Place. In fact, next time you feel a nostalgia craze coming on, you might want to tell all of your friends to refrain from bathing and other forms of hygiene for a few days, get out your tie-dyes and gaudy colored clothing, dig out the bong and the peace signs and gather in front of One Commerce Place to chant and engage in various acts of civil disobedience!

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Some may remember a few months back I put up a bunch of close-up photos of architectural details on buildings such as the Flatiron, the Hotel Texas, the Blackstone, etc. Well, gee - for some reason I forgot to do a similar close up of the architectural detail of this building. So here it is:

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And if you suggest that this great work of architecture is somehow less worthy of aesthetic praise than the Burk Burnett or the Sinclair Buildings - well that just proves that you are a closed-minded old-fashioned fuddy duddy. You need to expand your mind so that it is open to higher and more enlightened aesthetic experiences. You know, there are mushrooms that...... Hey - why does that pesky little kid over there keep looking at me and shouting out "He's naked! He's naked!"?
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#42 Sam Stone

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 08:48 PM

Holy crap!! This is very startling! If XTO's track record is any guide, it looks as if it will be restored. Can't wait to hear what happens!

#43 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 09:43 PM

I'm looking forward to the announcement at any time. The third level of the base is the infilled floor. The original lobby used to go all the way up to the beam supporting the brick.

#44 renamerusk

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Posted 05 October 2004 - 04:26 PM

[QUOTE]..... The building is called One Commerce Place....


Wait, wait; I want to change my vote!!

This is the yuckiest building of all, bar none.

Where is "Marty" the March Tornado when he is needed? :no:


"Keep Fort Worth folksy".

#45 John T Roberts

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Posted 06 October 2004 - 10:59 AM

Now, I even have better news; and remember, you read about it at fortwortharchitecture.com first. The base was removed in order to do a restoration of the building's original base. Over the next few months, a replica of the original base will be constructed on the Houston and 7th Street facades. Actual placement of stone will begin around the end of the year. The original drawings for the building were not present, so what is being rebuilt has been assembled through the few pictures of the base that were available. Smaller details have been guesses, but they probably are pretty close to what was there. Usually decoration is carried from the interior through the exterior, and enough of the plaster work remained inside to see the details.

It is really wonderful to have a business like XTO Energy here in Fort Worth. They appreciate the architecture, as well as the history of the city. They are also willing to spend a great deal of money to improve the aesthetics of the streetscapes around their property. The work that they are doing to the exterior of the Baker Building was something that they were not required to do. They could have just altered the old banking lobby to fit their needs and left the base alone. They are not restoring the interior of the building. Too many alterations had been made inside the space for restorations to be economically feasible.

I would invite everyone to walk by and take a look at the structure that is exposed now and in the future, go by to see how the restoration is progressing.

#46 JBB

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 06:48 AM

A note in today's S-T business section. Great press for the web site and the forum! It's pretty cool that the ^post directly above this one^ was actually quoted in the story.

Posted on Mon, Oct. 18, 2004

SHLACHTER, PEROTIN, FUQUAY & CO.

By Barry Shlachter, Maria Perotin and Jim Fuquay

Star-Telegram Staff Writers

Conversion of Baker Building reported

XTO Energy isn't talking, but a Web site that serves Fort Worth's architecture community says the company is converting the Baker Building at Seventh and Houston streets back to its original style.

Work crews have gutted the first two floors all the way down to the structural steel, and over the next couple of months, replicas of the original base and facades will be built, according to www.fortwortharchitecture.com's forum.

"It is really wonderful to have a business like XTO Energy here in Fort Worth," Fort Worth architect John Roberts wrote.

"They appreciate the architecture, as well as the history of the city," he wrote. "They are also willing to spend a great deal of money to improve the aesthetics of the streetscapes around their property."

XTO Energy, under the name WTW Properties, bought the building in April 2003, saying it would use the 94-year-old building for expansion. It had leased some floors in the building since 2001.

The company did not return several phone calls over the past two weeks by reporter Sandra Baker seeking information on its plans for the street-level renovations.

XTO Energy also owns the 20-story W.T. Waggoner Building at 810 Houston St. and Landmark Tower, the 30-story building at 200 W. Seventh St., which the company reportedly plans to tear down.

The Baker Building originally had two stories when it was built in 1910 for First National Bank. In 1922, nine floors were added. It received its name in 1965 from investor E.L. Baker.

#47 John T Roberts

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 07:03 AM

There seems to be an error in the story above. From what I can tell the original building was not constructed 2 stories, but 10 stories (or 11 with the extra floor added inside the bank lobby in 1967). Then the bank lobby was doubled in size in 1926 with a tower addition constructed on Houston Street. Finally, the remainder of the tower was filled in with the 1967 remodel.

It does look like this could be some good press for the web site and the forum.

#48 Dismuke

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 09:10 AM

It does look like this could be some good press for the web site and the forum.


Nice understatement John! It's incredible press. Undoubtedly there are lots and lots of people out there who are interested in architecture, local history as well as the various topics that are discussed here but are simply unaware that your website and Forum exist. And, most likely, a significant percentage of the people who will find that particular article worth reading will fall into that category. Publicity like that is golden. And kudos to the Star-Telegram for considering the restoration newsworthy and for not being above quoting a so-called "altertnative media" outlet as its source.
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#49 gdvanc

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 05:05 PM

it would be interesting to see if there is a surge in hits to your web site over the next several days. more voices on the forum would be a welcome development.

#50 John T Roberts

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 05:27 PM

I will check to see if there has been any increase in traffic today. Hopefully, a few new people will join the forum as a result.





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