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Westbrook Hotel Implosion Photographs


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#1 John T Roberts

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 08:24 AM

I still haven't found my building implosion photographs, but a good friend and fellow architect, Bob Adams donated these photos that he took from the 23rd floor of the old Bank One Tower (now The Tower) of the implosion of the Westbrook Hotel. The 7 story building stood on the current Chisholm Trail Parking Lot. This was the only building imploded in the 1970's that was not replaced by another building. Enjoy.

Photographs Courtesy of Robert G. Adams, AIA:
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#2 WTx

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 04:10 PM

The one thing that strikes me most is how different the area looks. This gives you a chance to see how the area used to be before all the conversions and development. Same buildings but undeveloped and vacant looking. I hate to see the Westbrook gone too!

#3 RD Milhollin

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 12:28 AM

QUOTE(WTx @ Jul 12 2006, 05:10 PM) View Post

I hate to see the Westbrook gone too!


Orrrgph! It really hurts to see that again! The Westbrook was one of the gems of Downtown Fort Worth.

#4 hooked

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 07:31 AM

But it's a really nice parking lot now happy.gif

#5 1963Parade_of_Homes

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 11:47 AM

QUOTE(hooked @ Jul 13 2006, 08:31 AM) View Post

But it's a really nice parking lot now happy.gif

What was the 2-story white building immediately east across the street from the Westbrook? It was on the west side of Land Title Block building. It looks like it was from the 1910's. I believe it's now the parking lot on the west side of the Land Title Block building.

-Jim

#6 John T Roberts

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 12:43 PM

Jim, that was the Richelieu Grill. I have never been able to pin an exact date on its construction, but the building may be older than your guess of the 1910's. The 1898 Sanborn Maps show a similar building in size on the site, but I can't say that it was the same building. When it was standing, there was evidence that a cornice was removed at some point in time. Also, old construction photographs of the Burk Burnett Building were taken from the roof and in the photos, you can match the parapet details. That means that it was constructed before 1913. One other thing that I remember about its age is that when it was demolished, cast iron columns showed up on the stuccoed ground floor and along the center of the building. The cast iron work indicates the building was constructed in the 1800's. It was demolished in the 1990's.

#7 hooked

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 02:32 PM

QUOTE(John T Roberts @ Jul 13 2006, 01:43 PM) View Post

Jim, that was the Richelieu Grill. I have never been able to pin an exact date on its construction, but the building may be older than your guess of the 1910's . . . It was demolished in the 1990's.


And today, not just one, but two really nice parking lots dry.gif

#8 Keller Pirate

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 03:23 PM

Speaking of those 2 nice parking lots. I have often thought that replacing the parking lots with a green grassy area with a fountain and a sno cone stand smile.gif would be nice. So many European and South American cities have these central areas with some being nicer than others. I think Ft Worth could make a nice plaza, or square and toss in a statue of Mayor Moncrief as well.

All they would have to do is make sure it didn't get overrun with homeless people. Then there are the birds madgo.gif



#9 John T Roberts

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 10:34 PM

It's in both the Sundance Square and City of Fort Worth Master Plans to put a park in that location. However, nothing has been done due to another owner on the portion along Commerce Street north of the Land Title Block (Flying Saucer). In the Sundance Plan, retail buildings are planned to enclose the park centered on Main Street.

#10 liquid snake

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 11:50 PM

I haven't really introduced myself on the forum and I know maybe this isn't the place to do it, but it is apropriate for me to post in the thread that officially hooked me to this website six years ago. I was born in 1979 and I must tell anyone reading this that Mr. Roberts, Mr. Luenser, Birdland in Handley, Dismuke, and plenty of other witty well spoken long time members (not to mention the incredible Jack White photos) have got to be my heroes for being the living appreciation of this town and its unique and oh so colorful history. Without folks as dedicated as you, many people would live every day not knowing the treasures lives and times that surround them in this great city. Never was I more proud than when my first mailing address for my first home was Fort Worth and I have alot of you folks to thank for helping me grow and understand that pride.

So back to the thread..

After reading this site for years, I stumbled across this particular thread. I showed it to my wife and oogled the photos of this hotel coming down. Oh yes, we could spot where Razzoo's would go. Hey look! Barnes and Noble is there now! Our first date was a friendly drink at the Saucer. I filed the neat experience of seeing how this building came down and became a parking lot away, more or less appreciating the way things used to be in a place I love being near, Sundance Square. Time goes by and my parent's 35th anniversary came up this past June as they celebrated 35 happy years of marriage. For their celebration party at Times Ten, it was my job to create a cycling slide show that would show them growing up, high school etc. To do so, I went to grandmother's house and dove into photo albums that hadn't seen the light of day since.. well a long time ago. Good God, I stumbled across these pictures, and *gasp* recognized them.

I wasn't born yet. My parents were at the implosion, along with my grandparents, my grandmother is still with us. It is a unique and rewarding experience to have learned about this hotel here on this site, to read of its splendor, and then to carry on an intelligent conversation with my grandmother about it and take in yet more personal living memory of it from a family member. Who was there... Who waited inside the lobby... Who attended the demolition. I would never have asked or recognized this or had this experience if not for this site, so thanks. Thanks for the memories, really! I'll continue to seek out many more, and one day with any luck get to tell my grandchildren.


So here's the pictures, scannned from the ancient photo album. I know they aren't professional and many of you have probably seen a million pictures of the Westbrook coming down, but they are a unique experience that I just felt like I had to share with you guys.



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#11 fwpcman

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 07:33 AM

That brings tears to my eyes everytime I see it.

#12 DrkLts

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 02:46 PM

Hmm never knew about this hotel. Then again I was born in 1975 lol. Anyways, was there any particular reason this building was imploded? Too run down? More parking space?? Oh well, so had this building survived to recent times, anyone think it would of been renovated to a new hotel, condo, or office use???

#13 John T Roberts

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 04:55 PM

Liquid snake, thank you for posting these additional implosion photographs. It's nice to have some taken from a different vantage point. Also, I would like to thank you for your kind comments about some of us here on the forum.

You know, it's amazing how much you forget in 34 years. I was a sophomore at UTA when the building came down. Back in those days, preservation was not common, yet only one year later, restoration would begin on the original two blocks of Sundance Square. I can't remember who actually purchased the building and demolished it. The claim was that it was too run down and it would cost too much to renovate. From what I can remember, it was demolished to build a parking lot. That lot would eventually be improved to become the parking for Sundance Square. I would guess that if the building had survived, the Bass family would have restored it and put it to some use complementary to Sundance Square. Since it had a low floor to floor height, residential or a boutique hotel would have probable been the best use. I don't think they demolished it and I think the land was purchased by Bass at a later date. I could be wrong on that because the Jett Building with the Chisholm Trail Mural was used as construction offices for the City Center Towers shortly thereafter, and that building sits on the same block where the Westbrook Hotel stood. In 2006, I mentioned that this was the only building imploded in the 1970's that wasn't replaced. Well, come April, half of this site will have a new building rising on it. The half block Plaza building will be oriented on Houston Street, instead of being oriented toward 4th Street like the Westbrook Hotel.

#14 Brian Luenser

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 06:23 PM

^ Liquid Snake, I too appreciate your comments. Not to shock anybody but it was the Fort Worth Forum that got me into Fort Worth and also into photography. For 7 years has been a big part of my life.

Wow. Good for you for posting your Westbrook implosion photos. Not only is it from a viewpoint none of us have seen, but for me personally it is extra special as I am also looking at my current and last 3 homes in the shot. I was out in the ocean at the time on an aircraft carrier. (Was in the Mediterranean off the coast of Greece at that exact time.) I never went to Fort Worth back then. I lived in Desoto South of Dallas in High School, and came to Fort Worth once to the Tarrant County Convention Center to see a Beatles special movie. I was more interested in my girlfriend than walking around the City. (I saw her photo recently and think I would still be more interested in her than the city...)

The Westbrook Hotel has fascinated me as it occupied the space I see every day. If I remember, it was structurally sound but not up to fire codes etc... Excuse for a lot of tear downs including my favorite, the Medical Arts building.

Thank you very much for posting. (And make sure you are not holding out on us. If you have any other Fort Worth pics from the 70s they are my favorites.)
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#15 liquid snake

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 12:12 AM

^ Liquid Snake, I too appreciate your comments. Not to shock anybody but it was the Fort Worth Forum that got me into Fort Worth and also into photography. For 7 years has been a big part of my life.

Wow. Good for you for posting your Westbrook implosion photos. Not only is it from a viewpoint none of us have seen, but for me personally it is extra special as I am also looking at my current and last 3 homes in the shot. I was out in the ocean at the time on an aircraft carrier. (Was in the Mediterranean off the coast of Greece at that exact time.) I never went to Fort Worth back then. I lived in Desoto South of Dallas in High School, and came to Fort Worth once to the Tarrant County Convention Center to see a Beatles special movie. I was more interested in my girlfriend than walking around the City. (I saw her photo recently and think I would still be more interested in her than the city...)

The Westbrook Hotel has fascinated me as it occupied the space I see every day. If I remember, it was structurally sound but not up to fire codes etc... Excuse for a lot of tear downs including my favorite, the Medical Arts building.

Thank you very much for posting. (And make sure you are not holding out on us. If you have any other Fort Worth pics from the 70s they are my favorites.)



Brian, I certainly will post more if I find them and there must be more buried in my family's albums somewhere. I discussed this thread with my mother after I posted thse pictures and she got a real kick out of the fact that anyone liked them if only because she took them back then for throwaway and nothing else - a marker just to say she was there. She attended another demolition in Fort worth in the seventies and tells me that back then, when there was a building being blown up, it was the thing to do to go see it. I can only assume that with all the demo in the seventies, there was lots of opportunities for folks to get some shots in.

#16 John T Roberts

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 07:51 AM

It still is the thing to go see a building being blown up. To me, as an architect, it is rather amazing that demolition experts can remove columns in strategic locations and drop a building almost exactly where they want to place it. There were quite a few opportunities to witness a building implosion here in the 1970's. Below are the implosions listed:

Worth Hotel - 1972
Medical Arts Building - 1973
Westbrook Hotel - 1978
Trans American Life - 1978
Stripling's Department Store - 1979

As you can see that during two calendar years, there were three implosions. Even though this has been more recent, I think the most dramatic was 2006's implosion of the Landmark Tower. I had never seen anything that tall be demolished, and probably won't in the future.

#17 801hme

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 06:45 AM

Seems like I remember for years, on a portion of the parking lot where the Westbrook was, you actually parked on some of the marble flooring from the hotel. At least that's what I thought it was. I remember it was unlike any other parking lot surface I'd ever seen. Eventually it was paved or black-topped over....Also, does anyone know what the building was that was located where the 8.0's outside seating area is now? I don't remember it & never noticed it in pictures until I saw these.

#18 OfficerWoody

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 10:50 PM

Did any of you ever go to the bar in the Westbrook? It was a very masculine place paneled in a beautiful dark wood that a bartender once told me had come from the Black Forest and was pegged together without nails. Anyone know if this is true? Wherever it came from, I hope it was salvaged before the implosion.

#19 austlar

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 03:15 PM

I don't think there was ever a bar in the Westbrook in the post WW2 era. I actually know a lot about the place because my family leased retail space at the corner of 4th and Houston, a store called NC Halls Jewelery. There is reason to believe there may have been a basement bar or grill room from a much earlier period. Halls had a sidewalk elevator that was used to unload freight into the basement of the store. The walls of this basement space were covered in an elaborate tile and there were glass block sidewalk lights overhead instead of solid concrete sidewalk. There may have been a some hotel amenity down there prior to the prohibition period.

The hotel was never fully air conditioned. Some rooms had window units, but most did not. The ornate and marble clad lobby had old leather furniture and several tall electric fans to move the considerable cigar smoke around and make a feeble effort at cooling the place off on warm days. There were a lot of older folks who still got dressed every day in a shabby suit, cowboy boots, and a stetson sitting in the lobby at all hours of the day and early evening. Eventually they put a TV set in the lobby. The bread and butter of the hotel during this period was the permanent guests. There were a few women in the place, but mostly it was men. Most out of towners were staying at the Hotel Texas, The Hilton (Blackstone), or the Worth Hotel by that time.

There was a cigar stand in the lobby off the 4th street mid-block entrance. It was presided over for many years by a lovely woman named Mrs. Thompson. Two of her sons, Tommy Thompson and Bill Thompson, worked at NC Hall's. Tommy Thompson was the long-time manager. I used to pay regular visits to Mrs. Thompson whenever I was downtown. She was a really nice lady.

For several years, NC Halls had it's employeee Christmas party in a suite of rooms up on the mezzanine floor. There was a piano in the room, and folks used to cut loose after a long and exhausting retail season. The parties might have gotten a little rowdy, and by the late 1950's they no longer took place.

The best thing about the Westbrook was the coffee shop. For one thing, it was blessedly air-conditioned. It had a counter area made out of white marble and several art deco-ish counter stools covered in red leatherette. They used real white linen or high quality pressed cotton napkins on all the tables and at the counter. The food was coffee shop food with the best waffles I have ever eaten. There was plenty of real melted butter and maple syrup. I loved going there. My father and other downtown businessmen ate lunch there almost every day. One regular was the Fort Worth Press columnist named Jack Gordon. If you wanted your name in the paper, it did not hurt to chat up Jack Gordon in the Westbrook Coffee Shop where he held court.

The Richelieu moved across the street from the Westbrook Coffee Shop from a prior location somewhere down further on Main Street after the convention center got built. It opened at 4th and Main about the time that the Westbrook was in it's last days. NC Hall moved across the street to the ground floor of the Sanger Lofts building, which was occuppied by Edison's warehouses and offices at the time. NC Hall got sold out to a Baltimore chain and closed in the mid 1970s. NC Hall's ownership was also involved in operating Edison's, so there was a family connection to the area that lasted a few years longer.




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