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#1 Ron Payne

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:25 AM

Although I have still not tracked down the Victorians in FW, I stumbled upon a neighborhood full of 'em in Galveston last weekend! Some of them need a little TLC, but what beautiful houses!

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#2 John S.

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 11:10 AM

Ron,
Until the catastrophic (category 4) hurricane of September 1900, Galveston was the largest and most progressive city in Texas. It's estimated over six thousand people lost their lives in the storm as Galveston sits just a few feet above sea level. The deadly storm surge was estimated to be over 20 feet, innundating the city. Today, the damage from that epic storm would be calculated in the billions. Galveston never really recovered from it and the much diminished post-storm city remained a slumbering seaside resort community until its wealth of surviving Victorian style architecture started attracting new residents in the late 1970's. Galveston is best known today for its Victorian architecture and long, colorful history. However, it still remains vulnerable to periodic hurricanes so the locals have adjusted to that continuing hazard just as West Coast residents have adapted to the reality of periodic damaging earthquakes.

As for Victorian era Fort Worth, for the most part it has disappeared along with the old legends of the Cattle Drives and Wild West glory days. The once opulent neighborhood of mansions known as Quality Hill, which stretched from West 7th along Summit Avenue south to Pennsylvania in the Hospital District, barely could be called a ghost of its former self. The c. 1899 Ball-Eddleman-McFarland mansion and its c. 1898 neighbor, the Pollock-Capps house, as well as (c. 1903) Thistle Hill Mansion provide a small glimpse today of what Quality Hill was once like. Samuels Avenue, due northwest of the courthouse off Belknap on the way to the Stockyards, has perhaps the best surviving concentration of Victorian era homes remaining in Fort Worth. But even there the numbers are now around a dozen and the future prospects for the neighborhood in light of recent massive redevelopment remain unknown. An isolated example or two of pre-1900 homes can be found on the near Southside, west of downtown, and east of I-35.

In summary, when new styles became popular here after 1900, Fort Worth changed rapidly. An c. 1950 guidebook by a local doctor (Rex Z. Howard) lamented the continuing loss of early landmarks in the city. It admonished readers not to delay visiting these faded sites because "the wrecking ball may beat you to it". The urban renewal type demolition trends of the 1950's have accelerated over the years to accommodate Fort Worth's explosive growth thus we now have so little early architecture remaining. But Victorian styles of architecture are an acquired taste and thankfully, post-Victorian styles are still fairly well represented in Fort Worth. They too need our protection. Thanks for sharing the lovely Galveston photos.

#3 Ron Payne

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 11:32 AM

Lots of good information - thanks John! I still have a printout of a previous post of yours listing several locations of some of the surviving houses in FW (including yours?), which I will "one day" get out and find and photograph.

On a side note, I'm watching this week's "in-law schedule" closely for an opening to allow some 'music time'...
"People only ask you how you're doing, 'cause it's easier than letting on how little they could care" - Jackson Browne

Hear my original music (and other stuff) at RPQx2 Music

#4 bburton

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:59 PM

Fine photographs of beautiful Victorian homes; nicely done. Looks as if you had good weather for touring. :)

BTW: A little book I've found to be very helpful in navigating around our local historic sites is: Fort Worth & Tarrant County: An Historical Guide - by Carol Roark; TCU Press, 2003.

Bruce Burton
 


#5 John S.

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 10:54 AM

Lots of good information - thanks John! I still have a printout of a previous post of yours listing several locations of some of the surviving houses in FW (including yours?), which I will "one day" get out and find and photograph.

On a side note, I'm watching this week's "in-law schedule" closely for an opening to allow some 'music time'...


Ron, I have all of the old historic resources survey books (1980's) so I can probably look up most Victorian era structures still standing in FW. For the most part, they are widely scattered. Its sad to note that Weatherford, Gainesville, Waxahachie, and probably even tiny Midlothian may have more 19th century style architecture examples remaining than we have now in Fort Worth but that's the price paid for "progress", I suppose. We feel privileged to live in an 1880's Fort Worth home in largely original condition despite all of the compromises we have to make to do so. I have no illusions of being able to complete the costly restorations needed but at least we've bought our rare 19th century home another quarter-century's survival and perhaps will be able to pass it on to someone who is able to completely restore it. I worry about the landmarked Garvey House at 769 Samuels as it slowly declines from neglect. I can even hope that someday the remaining historic homes along Samuels Avenue will be saved and preserved and will somehow blend in seamlessly with the new development. A tacit recognition of the neighborhood's historic significance is being paid with the daily horse drawn carriages taking passengers from downtown to the Stockyards and back. Wish we could have gaslight street lamps and a brick paved street to enhance the historic flavor, but that's an unrealistic dream of neighborhood vanity. Thanks again for the great Galveston photos. One author prefaced his introduction to Galveston by stating it was the only city in Texas that could never realistically hope for the future to outshine its past. Also looking forward to some guitar jamming whenever-thanks!

#6 avvy

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 08:07 PM

I am going to Galveston with my family in June. I am going to plan an afternoon to check out the architecture. Although I've been there many times as a kid, I haven't been as an adult to see these beauties in person. I'll definitely look for these; thanks for posting!

#7 Ron Payne

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 07:22 AM

This was my first time there, so I can only give a rough idea of where these houses are - we went to The Strand and eventually ended up at Joe's Crab Shack. From there, we travelled maybe 4 or 5 blocks "back toward the main highway" (don't know direction, but I would guess east?). As we drove back toward the highway, this neighborhood was on the left. Hope that helps!
"People only ask you how you're doing, 'cause it's easier than letting on how little they could care" - Jackson Browne

Hear my original music (and other stuff) at RPQx2 Music




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