Of perhaps greater interest to historically-minded folks is the renovation of the David Chapman Bennett house (C. 1875) at 731 Samuels Avenue. (there's no separate thread for it so I'm adding it here) The owners have recently replaced all of the old cypress clapboards with new cedar boards, installing insulation around the house. New copper gutters have been added and the house repainted in green. The former Bennett-(Thomas P.) Fenelon house is now one of Fort Worth's best looking Victorian era renovations. Hats off to the owners for investing in local history.
David C. Bennett came to Fort Worth in the early 1870's from Rochester Minnesota and opened a dry goods business near the courthouse square. He later was a founder of the First national bank in Fort Worth and remained a vice-president until his death in 1910. It was later bought by Thomas P. Fenelon, general agent for the Santa Fe Railroad. Mr. Fenelon's daughters lived in the house until they passed away in the 1990's. The property has changed hands a couple of time since then but the current owners have invested a tremendous amount of time, money, and energy in bringing the house to its current appearance. The landscaping has long been among the best in the neighborhood. (wish I had a photo to share)
What many do not know is that the Bennett house was built in two stages. The earliest stage was an "I" type brick house with a south facing porch. It likely dates to around 1875. The solid brick walls are over a foot thick. When the frame addition which is now the front of the house was added, (making the "I" plan into a "T" plan house) apparently the brick in the back portion was covered with nailer strips and clapboards were added over the brick to make it visually match the new addition. The back portion also has a stone walled basement, something Mr. Bennett was probably familiar with from his days in chilly Minnesota. The Bennett-Fenelon House is one of only two 1870's houses remaining in Fort Worth on their original sites. (the VanZandt farm cottage being the other one) It is also the sole remaining example of the Victorian Italianate style in Fort Worth. Our own home in the 800 block of Samuels is in the Bennett Addition, once owned by David Bennett. Morrison Street, which is on the south side of the Bennett addition, is named after little Morrison Bennett, who according to local lore, drowned tragically at a young age. Morrison Street joins Bennett street which is west and runs parallel to Samuels Avenue. Besides the former Garvey mansion, the Bennett-Fenelon house is arguably the most historically and architecturally important house remaining on Samuels. Good to see it preserved for the foreseeable future. Now if only someone could do the same with the Garvey house...
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