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Hyde-Jennings House


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#1 Zetna

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 11:00 AM

A friend told me about a house w/ incredible woodwork in the Meadowbrook area at 2725 Scott. I looked it up on Zillow and while the exterior is nothing special the interior downstairs is amazing, original and looks like from around 1890. It said it had been moved from Lancaster and Summitt. I started to do a little research and found that it couldn't have been the Waggonner or Davidson mansions, but then stumbled on these photos where the Hyde Jennings House had been moved on 9/16/47 and one photo shows the original exterior! Glad this still survives and hope it finds a sensitive owner!

 

http://library.uta.e...853c95d6e0b.jpg

http://library.uta.e...b0d11e8c3b5.jpg

http://library.uta.e...88043b6903b.jpg



#2 John T Roberts

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 11:07 AM

The exterior has changed so much, I would not have thought it was the same house.  It would be nice if a sensitive owner could purchase and restore it.



#3 Zetna

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 02:31 PM

A photo of it in its heyday  http://fortworthtexa...20/id/175/rec/6



#4 John S.

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 05:08 PM

Thanks, Zetna. Seeing how severely this house has been altered from its Victorian era roots boggles the mind. It begs the question as to how those who transformed this mansion level home into what it looks like today thought by doing so that it was an improvement?  In the vintage photo, I see some surrounding homes in the background which appear to be equally grand but I suppose the only trace of them today would be found in old Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. I've never been able to successfully rationalize why Fort Worth, which had an illustrious community history and many fine residences in the latter 19th century, allowed almost all of that built legacy to disappear? I recall reading a slim volume titled Wrecking Texas published in the early 1960's that was written by a demolition contractor and even he had trouble fathoming why the grand mansions of Summit Avenue and the rest of the Quality Hill neighborhood were being demolished back then with little thought or fanfare. The contractor-author went on to describe the lavish interiors of the W.T. Waggoner mansion and that of his Cattle Baron neighbor and friend Sam Burk Burnett. (both mansions would have been major tourist draws had they survived.) I can only conclude there must have been a local cultural bias against everything from the Victorian era. I could extend this belief to the present, but won't. I wonder if anything remains of the ornate interior seen in the archival images? Perhaps there's a silver lining in that by being moved and disguised as a non-descript house some of the period home has survived. It's probably too much to wish for the house to be restored to its original opulence but I'd be willing to share my expertise in Victorian era design if an owner needed any assistance with it. This find was a major surprise as I thought I knew about every Victorian era house remaining in Fort Worth.



#5 gdvanc

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 05:53 PM

I think if it were me with a money-is-no-object bank account, I'd want to move it to somewhere like Samuels Ave before trying to restore it to its former glory. I'm not sure its present location is a good one for doing that. Touring along via Google Maps, it looks like a very nice and well-kept area, but I don't think there will be any investment there that wouldn't obliterate the character of the neighborhood and it's smaller 1920's to 1950's homes. (And what is that pit at the end of the street?) That might be true for Samuels as well, but I think there's at least a chance of restoring some history there. And I'd rather live in a Hyde Jennings backed up to the Trinity than to the Tom Landry.

 

Did that beautiful porch/stonework not make the move from Lancaster? Or was it taken out later for expansion? What a lovely house it was before. The change from the heyday picture to the pre-move one is depressing. The larger story of what happened to that area over that half-century or so would be interesting to hear if anyone has time to tell it.



#6 RD Milhollin

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 10:52 PM

(And what is that pit at the end of the street?)

 

Your friendly neighborhood gas well complex.



#7 mmmdan

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 08:40 AM

I just love historicaerials.com.  It appears that by 1970 is when a lot of the houses in that area had disappeared.



#8 Zetna

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 10:58 AM

mmmdan, I'll have to check that site as I was trying to find aerial photos too.

 

gdvanc, I think the porches were demoed in '47 as the lot is not wide enough if they were brought in...also, the style of the newer porch looks like from the late 40s - early 50s era. 

 

John S. I don't know why Victorian houses were so despised by the time of the 60s either.....I guess people like the clean lines of modernism and every city seemed to want to promote a modern image through urban renewal. Also, the upkeep of these places required a lot of workers / staff. I was talking to a contractor friend who went out to see it and showed him photos of what some of Fort Worth had....some of those early mansions here rivaled those in the largest cities and to think Fort Worth was just a fort some 50 years earlier! It boggles my mind! He and I also discussed how maybe it could be moved and made into a commercial space or venue of some sort that might fund restoration. Some details you might find interesting that don't show in the photos are cut or poured glass windows in the parlor, living and stair hall that depict leaves, torches, sunbursts and ribbons....also, the kitchen porch off to one side is intact so one would have patterns for columns, railings and brackets.



#9 John S.

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 02:51 PM

The combination of the Cattle Trail drives and the arrival of the railroad in 1876 brought post Civil War prosperity back to Fort Worth. Both the aforementioned W.T. Waggoner  and his Summit Avenue neighbor and fellow Cattle Baron Sam Burk Burnett started accumulating their wealth during that early post-war era. The 1890's were years of slower growth but the first decade of the 20th century was a time of exponential population growth for our City. Indeed, the vaunted neighborhood of Quality Hill boasted some of the finest homes in Texas. For comparison, Cleveland Ohio had Euclid Avenue, a continuous four miles of some of the most lavish Victorian mansions anywhere in the country, (Charles Brush founder of General Electric and John D. Rockefeller, who was during his life the richest man in the world, lived on Euclid) Fast forward to today and from several hundred mansions only about a half dozen remain on Cleveland's Euclid Avenue and the few survivors have been re-purposed for institutional or commercial use. The same wholesale abandonment of former prestigious neighborhoods occurred in American city after city so it's not surprising the same fate was experienced here on Quality Hill. When we moved to this area from Abilene, TX in the early 1980's I recall seeing frequent demolitions of turn of the last century homes going on all around the near Southside, from Vickery south to Berry Street but especially from South Main over to 8th Avenue (east to west) . Had not the Fairmount-Southside District been created, I'm not sure many old houses would exist today in the Southside.  That brings me to the suggestion made of moving a few period homes to Samuels Avenue. I think it's a valid idea but ideas have to be embraced and acted upon to be worthwhile. We had a meeting with City and Downtown Ft. Worth Inc. folks on Nov. 12 and the topic of old houses or historic preservation for Samuels Avenue were not even mentioned; it was all about overlaying the downtown design review standards. Given all the concerns and doubts about the future of the Garvey House at 769 Samuels, I can't wholeheartedly recommend historic in-fill housing here although it would augment and bolster the historic character of the area. The Hyde Jennings house would be a welcome neighborhood addition if it were to happen. I personally know of at least a half-dozen intact Victorian homes out-of-state that could be bought, de-constructed, and rebuilt here but a local house always has more significance.

As for the wheel cut art glass windows you mentioned. That dovetails with a period in the last quarter of the 19th century when we nationally had a boom in decorative arts and that included architectural glass. Wheel cut glass windows and transoms are found on the Garvey House (c. 1898) and they also has the decorative motifs you mentioned, Millwork catalogs had art glass windows; items like staircase newels and balustrades; an almost endless variety of moldings/fretwork/pocket doors, ornate hardware, and everything needed to make an impressive Victorian era home. Mail order architects like George F. Barber in Knoxville, TN, and Herbert Caleb Chivers in St. Louis sold house plans in the 1890's via ads in popular periodicals with national circulation so building a high style house was possible even in small towns or in those without architects. Thanks to shipments by rail, you could have real L.C. Tiffany stained glass windows shipped from his Corona-Queens NYC studio to Texas although few did. Today, the wheel cut windows under discussion are no longer made although there is an Austrian ex-pat in California who does custom wheel cutting work on glass and charges by the square inch. The artisan traces the pattern on the glass pane, and then holds the pane over a cutting wheel to rough out the design. That is followed by a series of polishing wheels and compounds to produce a finished smooth cut pattern. One mistake ruins an entire pane so it requires a lot of skill and patience. in the 1890's and early 1900's when wheel cut glass popularity was at a peak most of the work was being done by European immigrants who had learned the craft back in Europe. Here's a photo I took of a pair of doors from 1895 showing complex wheel cut patterns in the panes (the Phillips Mansion in Bradford, PA) https://www.flickr.c...57618714282071/

 

The metal roof crestings seen in the vintage photo of the Hyde Jennings house are still being made by the W.F. Norman Corp. in Nevada, Missouri using tools and equipment dating back to the 1890's. For missing interior pieces, salvage sources are best although there are people who can make custom Victorian millwork. The fireplace tiles seen in the photos are most likely by the American Encaustic Tiling Company with showrooms in NYC and a factory in Zanesville, Ohio. We have some marked A.E.T. (the initials of the aforementioned company) encaustic tiles on the backs and a pattern number 29 installed in front of the mantel hearth in an added bedroom of our Samuels Avenue home dating to 1897. Encaustic tiles differ from surface glazed tiles (glaze brushed on over a bisque blank) in that the pigmented color goes all through the tile not just the surface. (I have links to archival A.E.T. company catalogs from the Internet Archive)

While some reproductions of these glossy glazed tiles can be found, the figural tiles with figures from mythology or historical figures are rare and available only from salvage sources. In summary, everything that was once on the Hyde Jennings house could be put back but it wouldn't be cheap. Seems like a futile idea when the landmarked Garvey House sits boarded up with its fate uncertain yet it's an intact Victorian era towered Queen Anne style home.



#10 gdvanc

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 06:01 PM

RD, I should've guessed gas well.

 

mmmdan, thanks for reminding me of historicaerials. i don't know why i always forget to look there.

 

John S., thanks for the thorough reply. I feel a little smarter every time you post something.

 

It feels like half a century is too short of a time to go from the proud image of its heyday to what we see in the first photo. Of course, one solid storm could have accelerated the decline I suppose. I wish we were better of taking care of what we have left; it's a lot easier than trying to recreate that splendor now that the sources for the craftsmanship have all but vanished. One generation struggles and tries to build something of lasting beauty; the next takes that for granted and fails to completely appreciate the struggle behind the beauty; the next has lost the meaning of it entirely.



#11 John S.

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 01:49 PM

gdvanc,

You said: "It feels like half a century is too short of a time to go from the proud image of its heyday to what we see in the first photo. Of course, one solid storm could have accelerated the decline I suppose. I wish we were better of taking care of what we have left; it's a lot easier than trying to recreate that splendor now that the sources for the craftsmanship have all but vanished. One generation struggles and tries to build something of lasting beauty; the next takes that for granted and fails to completely appreciate the struggle behind the beauty; the next has lost the meaning of it entirely." 

 

Very well stated. I've poured over period publications for years trying to learn why the structures built during the Victorian era were almost universally despised in the years after World War I. When public tastes changed from ornate and the philosophy that "more WAS more" in the late 19th century to the spartan, Minimalist "less is more" in the 20th century, those homes and buildings representing the effusive era were sure to suffer and they did. I almost shudder to think what many of the mass produced tract home suburbs surrounding the urban cores of DFW will look like in 50 years. But obsolescence is built into modern architecture so few will lament them coming down someday. That whole mindset of building things for beauty and permanence was lost in the modern era. All the more reason why its important to save what remains from over a century ago so those alive today and in the future can have a frame of reference about the past.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the esteemed friends I've made on the Fort Worth Forum and I look forward to interesting discussions to come.



#12 John T Roberts

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Posted 26 November 2015 - 02:22 PM

John S., I want to thank you for such a thoughtful and insightful reply.  Happy Thanksgiving.



#13 John S.

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Posted 27 November 2015 - 01:38 PM

Thank you, John Roberts, I appreciate all that you do in trying to keep Fort Worth as the unique City that it is. Change is not necessarily bad but a careful balance between new development and the existing built environment has to be found. I had a call this morning from a gentleman who is looking for a place to build a new home and we discussed future prospects for the area. It's interesting that the closest occasion for selling our Samuels Avenue Victorian was back in 2008 from a developer who wanted to demolish our 1888 home for new construction. Of course, we've shown our historic home and large half acre corner lot to others but few are focused on preservation. Two younger couples with young children interested in preservation have been serious prospects but as with most young families, their budgets are limited. With so many popular TV programs about renovating older homes, or flipping them for profit, I'm surprised that is a rare phenomenon in our City. One thing that was mentioned in our neighborhood meeting with the City and Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. officials on Nov. 12th is that once the downtown design review standards are applied to Samuels Avenue, any new construction has to be 3 stories tall or more. That suggests there may be few to no single family home construction in the future although single family townhomes are often taller and occupy a smaller footprint in a dense urban environment.  The new design standards are due to be voted on by the City Council next Spring so the time window for unrestricted single family residential development is narrow. Existing homes are grandfathered in, perhaps allowing for additions and upgrades. Wish we could get some historic in-fill housing like the Hyde Jennings house or at least something closer in character to the gas light period when Samuels Avenue (Rock Island) was an important Fort Worth neighborhood just off downtown. I remain hopeful the c. 1898 Garvey House (769 Samuels) has a future but 2015 was not kind to it.



#14 Dismuke

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 08:39 PM

Here's my theory as to why it changed so much:  Observe that the original roof was quite tall - I am guessing that the attic was effectively another floor half story.  And observe that the current roof is not very high at all.   I am guessing that its height would have posed problems with overhead utility lines while it was being moved.  So my guess is that, in addition to the porches being removed, the roof was completely removed as well.  

 

My guess is the only reason someone in 1947 would have gone to the trouble of moving the house was because they wanted to have a big fancy house for not much money.  If its owner planned to demolish it anyway, he probably would have been more than happy to have someone move it away for free thus saving the cost of demolition,. Once the house was on its new site, the cost of reconstructing such a vast roof would have been much more expensive than putting on the shorter roof that exists today.  

 

If you look on the Zillow pictures, the upstairs rooms which have the pine paneling which was popular during the late '40s and '50s also have ceilings much lower than they had in the Victorian era.  Perhaps they even shortened the second floor walls a bit?

 

Anyhow, I suspect that the change in appearance was not so much driven by a desire to modernize rather than practical and budgetary necessity on the part of the person who moved it.


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