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John S.

Member Since 30 Dec 2007
Offline Last Active Mar 15 2018 12:03 PM

#98203 Gem on Samuels Ave. - The Garvey House

Posted by John S. on 02 August 2016 - 07:25 PM

You are welcome, Mr. Roberts. We're thinking about renaming our place "Fort Apache" (after the 1981 movie) as we may be approaching a "Gran Torino" situation here because the few neighbors we rely on to keep an eye on each other are going to be forced to relocate because the places they are at will soon be demolished after developers acquire the properties. The developers did us no favors by opting out in advance of buying our block yet encircling it with future development. I'd like to have the genius who came up with that devilish plan be our guest for a while and personally soak in the neighborhood "atmosphere". The time between now and actual construction may be a year or longer and from my 65 year old perspective, that experience could become quite perilous. When we began our "urban pioneering" adventure on Samuels I was in my 40's and was blessed with good neighbors on all sides. I sometimes feel like I'm being punished because I supported Historic Preservation on Samuels for nearly three decades.  Anyhow, we will try to survive until the new development surrounds us but if any developer thinks we will capitulate and sell our property at fire sale prices, then they are very misinformed. Right now I'm on the verge of taking our property off the market in perpetuity no matter what the consequences, I don't like being pressured into a "sell or else" situation (no one would) so my estimation of developers generally is approaching my estimation of a developer-turned-politician who's been in the news recently. (for all the wrong reasons)  Anyhow, the Fort Worth Police, my wife, and I, will surely become best of friends in the days ahead. We were founding members of the Samuels Avenue Citizens on Patrol and with the decline in neighborhood crime, we had looked forward to a hopeful future in this oldest of Fort Worth neighborhoods. We will survive the dark days ahead and hopefully so will the historic Garvey House.

#98193 Gem on Samuels Ave. - The Garvey House

Posted by John S. on 02 August 2016 - 08:32 AM

A Visit to the Garvey House...

Late yesterday afternoon my spouse and I walked up to the Garvey House. Sunday night at 11:30 PM there had been a suspicious pickup with a loud rumbling muffler pulling into and out of vacant lots on Bennett Street which runs parallel to Samuels Avenue and due west of it behind the 800 Block. I noticed yesterday morning a mattress and box springs had been dumped off Sunday night in the yard of the boarded up small 1950's crackerbox house on the west side of Bennett. I wanted to check to see if everything was OK at the Garvey House which has been the victim of repeated vandalism and neglect in recent years. As I approached the Garvey property, I noted that protective plywood had been removed from a window in the northwest corner of the house and one of the pieces of wood trim to the side of the window was missing. I walked up to the window and noticed the lower sash glass had been smashed and someone had taken the lower sash weight out of the hollow space behind the removed trim. I'm frankly not sure if it is even possible to secure that historic home from miscreants short of posting a security guard on the premises 24/7. 


Three low income rentals are next to the Garvey House (I know the absentee landlord who lives in Saginaw but he speaks little English) and as I walked by one of them I counted 10 cars in the large parking lot behind the rental facing Bennett Street. (aren't there rental occupancy number restrictions in our City?) Between the three house rentals, there must be several dozen people residing in them. I deeply regret that we no longer have a Police storefront on Samuels which was very near this area of rentals. Neighborhood patrol officers used to keep an eye on activity there. But the storefront was permanently closed during the Recession due to city budget constraints and I've noted increasing suspicious activity in the area especially on weekends and late nights.


I walked by the back door of the Garvey House and someone had pounded on the metal doorknob to gain entry but despite the damage the door was still intact and unbreached. Metal scavengers/thieves are a stop-at-nothing, hardy bunch who often go to extreme lengths to steal anything of scrap value to support hard drug addictions in many cases. One such character who shall remain unnamed woke my wife and I up early in the morning with loud noises back when he was in the neighborhood and we discovered he had acquired an old pickup from somewhere and with nothing more than a Sawzall equipped with metal cutting blades, he sawed the entire pickup into pieces he could load into his old beat up truck to take to the scrap yard. His novel recycling approach put a whole new meaning in the term "chop shop".  The same individual once acquired a box springs from a discarded bed and decided it was worth his time to extract every metal spring out of it. It must have taken him hours of work to extract the steel bed springs for probably less than a half dollar's worth of scrap metal. But this individual was always "high strung" and full of energy, if you get my drift, so no amount of work was insurmountable if it yielded a few dollars worth of scrap metal. Thank goodness he departed the neighborhood some years ago but apparently either he or someone of his ilk is now picking on the poor Garvey House. I realize that a long awaited rehab for the Garvey House looms in the months ahead, but in the interim, it's as highly endangered as it ever was in the past. I sincerely hope the beginning of rehab work is not too far off. My wife and I have lived on Samuels Avenue since 1989 and not since the earliest years have parts of it had such a negative atmosphere or look of abandonment. New development cannot come here too soon.

#97263 Gem on Samuels Ave. - The Garvey House

Posted by John S. on 10 May 2016 - 01:01 PM

The link John Roberts posted above on May 7 has the full agenda presentation for the proposed Garvey House rehab. (Streamed live yesterday at the City's website online and on Charter's Ch. 190 Community Access channel.- check for re-broadcast times)  The Landmarks Commission approved the Garvey House rehab plan with little fanfare.  It's my understanding the intent is to gut the house to the studs inside (removing all of the old plaster and lath) then rewire and replumb. All the old siding will also be removed and replaced with synthetic cement Hardi-boards. In this case, provided the Hardi board clapboard profiles are compatible with the originals, I think its an acceptable alternative because the original siding is Cypress and is no longer commercially available. (Western Red Cedar clapboards are available but they have a tendency to split over time) I assume since there is diagonal sheathing behind the original clapboards, the wall insulation will have to be installed from the interior of the house. Synthetic slates are proposed for the roof but the originals were cypress-cedar wood shingles stained/painted Verdigris green to mimic patinated copper. A portion of the original painted shingles were uncovered under many asphalt layers when valley work was being done on the porch roof in the early 1990's. Synthetic slates are an acceptable substitute as this is not a museum house and will be used daily by residents and staff of the new development. It currently has older metal "shakes" over many layers of older shingles. One can see the original wood shingles still visible in the attic.


A question remains as to whether the Southern Yellow Pine interior millwork (staircase newel, balustrade and hand rails) will remain or will be removed and replaced as well? I assume the triple stained glass windows will remain and I hope when they are sent in for repairs the artisan replaces any damaged or missing panes with exact matching pieces. In the 1970's the windows were taken out for repairs and re-leading and unfortunately, non-matching replacement panes were used which leave something to be desired when looked at up close. Virtually every piece of original stained glass in the window is still available from the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company, Kokomo, Indiana. The venerable firm has been in continuous operation using glass formulas handed down since the company began operations in 1888. Louis Comfort Tiffany was one of their regular patrons traveling by train from NYC to Kokomo to hand select the glass sheets for his heavenly windows. Kokomo Glass still has the old company ledgers showing Tiffany's purchases. My spouse and I toured the glass factory last September and were amazed to see the glass production using techniques that haven't changed in over a century. A warehouse section has over 100,000 sheets of glass stored in every color, texture, and combination imaginable. Sorry to digress... but I hope the Garvey House windows are restored properly with correct matching panes. There's some distinctive millwork trim around windows and doors in the Garvey house with Adamesque type carved Colonial Revival ribbons and streamers. Impossible to replicate today, as far as I know. (unless a CNC lathe is used) The 9 foot tall pocket doors (3 double sets) are irreplaceable as well. It would be a shame to lose these distinctive details in a gut rehab.


Now the two mantels in the Garvey House are a different matter. At the time it was built, I'm willing to bet the original mantels were like 99% of those being made in the late 1890's: tall, Quarter-sawn Oak mantels with a beveled glass upper mirror (often oval or rectangular) and columns to either side with tilework hearth and tilework flooring border in front of the hearth. (The American Encaustic Tiling Company of Zanesville, Ohio made the bulk of them) But the Garveys were well off enough to change with the times so circa 1910 (both Garveys died in 1915) the Victorian Oak mantels were removed and plain Craftsman type brick mantels replaced them. If it were my restoration, I'd incorporate period salvage Oak mantels to reconnect the interior to its original period. There's a "courting bench" inglenook off the main staircase with a window looking to the front. The shape and location of the window almost guaranty it had some type of art glass originally...leaded/beveled clear glass, or stained glass. I hope these unique details are not entirely lost in the rehab.


One treasure of the Garvey house will probably never be restored: the wheel-cut entry door pane, the sidelights, and transom. Some years ago, neighborhood miscreants threw a metal pipe at the transom one night causing significant damage. During my research of the Garvey House in 1992 I took photos of these rare windows. Only the wheel cut sidelights survive; the entry door pane ended up at the lakehouse of a previous owner..said to have been cut in the glass in a Colonial Wreath pattern. A swag pattern was wheel cut in the entry transom but only a section of that vandalized window remains and it may have been discarded. Another transom wheel cut window survives with a swag pattern cut in the glass but in the lower section is a BB hole. I would think the clear material used to repair cracks in automobile windshields could be used to fill in the BB hole. To be accurate, there is (or at least was) one Austrian emigre living in California who still does traditional glass wheel cutting but he charges by the square inch and I think to replace the damaged and missing wheel cut panes would run well into the thousands and they would still be vulnerable to accidental damage. I don't know where the 1894 date for the Garvey House that was mentioned at the meeting yesterday came from. I could not find any mention of a construction date for the main house in my 1992 research but changes in tax valuations suggest it happened in the 1898-1900 period. Fort Worth photographer Charles L. Swartz included the Garvey House in his 1901 Views of Fort Worth and it looks fairly new in the photo. Classical and Colonial Revival style homes were all the rage in the late 1890's but would not have been here in 1894. Anyhow, minor quibble of little consequence. I sincerely hope the plans for rehabbing the Garvey House are preservation sensitive and not a "Property Brothers" type gut and build new inside approach. A sterile modern interior would greatly diminish the historical value of the Garvey house but understandably, some compromises are required. (such as making the Garvey House ADA compliant) A rear addition where the old kitchen and (since gutted and removed by the previous owner) butler's pantry were located is to be removed and replaced with a two story "sleeping porch" addition with casement windows instead of screens.  The two garage apartments behind the main house have been approved for demolition and removal.  (I hope someone saves the old sliding barn doors on antique rollers which are all the rage on some HGTV shows like "Fixer-Upper" staring Chip and Joanna Gaines in Waco) No matter what kind of rehab approach is taken, making the Garvey House useful and functional again is a major project in itself. I wish the rehabbers the best.

#97125 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 29 April 2016 - 11:25 AM

I wasn't sure where it would be appropriate to post but longtime Samuels Avenue resident (since 1948 as I recall) and former multiple properties owner Marion Burda passed away in a local nursing home. At one time, Mr. Burda owned 30 properties or more on Samuels Avenue and Peach street. Around 2003-2004 he sold 27 properties to a developer in a package deal and this helped launch the new development on Samuels Avenue on the south end. Mr. Burda is to be interred in Brenham, TX where he was born and other family members have been laid to rest.

#97026 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 20 April 2016 - 02:42 PM

Brief updates...the City Council approved the Zoning Change request and waiver without dissent (from "PD" Planned Development to PD/D to allow higher density.) at yesterday's meeting for the new project. Ahead is a request to Landmarks Commission to approve a rehabilitation plan for the Garvey House. Likely to also come in the days ahead will be a request to move the Talbott-Wall House at 915 Samuels to a designated new site. There has been some individual interest for moving it to Arlington Heights but the least challenging would be to move it to another site in the Samuels Avenue neighborhood.  The small Folk Victorian cottage on Bennett Street (at the corner with Locust) has had some interest from individuals wanting to move it but any inquiries regarding that idea should be directed to Mr. Phillip Poole at the Townsite Company. Their posted website contact information is: info at townsiteco dot com   or, by phone: 817-850-9500. In a perfect outcome, all demolition delay houses would be moved and saved with no loss of historic structures.

In the for what its worth category, we have had inquiries about selling our property (823 Samuels, c. 1888; demolition delay) from sources not affiliated with the Townsite project. We are willing to sell but it must be at a level that is comparable with the lot prices paid in the Townsite Co. project. I've received reliable information about other inquiries being made with other property owners as well as the offer figures being discussed. In the meantime, we sit and watch our neighborhood changing. I hope we can remain long enough to see the Garvey House being saved and renovated as well as it finally being removed from endangered status.  Does anyone know what the Zoning Change Requested public notice sign in the 600 block of Samuels pertains to? That site was previously slated for apartment construction by the Carleton Group but its my understanding it has since sold to another developer. I think inclusion of Samuels Avenue and Rock Island under the Downtown Design Review standards (requiring all new construction to be at least 3 stories in height) opened up the entire neighborhood for redevelopment. While some may lament these changes, the time to stand up and oppose it was a decade ago when development first started on the south end nearest downtown.

#96943 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 13 April 2016 - 04:50 PM

Update: The Samuels Avenue project proposal brought before the Zoning Commission today was rather anti-climactic. After the project parameters were outlined and presented by Mr. Poole with Townsite Co. the only question raised by a commission member was regarding protection of the heritage Live Oak tree behind 815 Bennett. (due west of Samuels via Locust Street) Assurances were made that it would be saved and retained. (the tree is noted as well in the preliminary project site plan shared by Mr. Poole) Afterwards, the Zoning Change requests went to vote and were approved 8 to zero with one member abstaining. Next comes the City Council review and vote next Tuesday. Mr. Poole mentioned specific details about the rehab and repurposing of the Garvey House (from residential to business use) that would be presented to the Landmarks Commission at the May meeting. Mention was made that a preservation architect was retained as a consultant to insure the rehabilitated Garvey house met preservation guidelines. As a preservationist, I regret that any historic property has to be moved, however, here there is a valid trade-off in that 1. the highly endangered Garvey house gets saved and rehabbed; 2. the important 1903 Talbott-Wall house will be moved but will likely remain on Samuels Avenue thus continuing to contribute to the neighborhood's historic character. In a best case scenario, the two demolition delay structures on Bennett Street may be saved and moved as well depending on conditions. 815 Bennett is but a few feet away from the huge Live Oak tree behind it and the commission member who asked about the tree suggested saving the centuries old tree was more important than moving the house in front of it. I concur, as this small folk Victorian house had been moved to the site in the mid-20th century and lacks major architectural or historical significance. I was pleased that the Zoning Commission proceedings were live streamed via the City website as well as on the Govt. Channel 190 via Charter Cable. I believe it is broadcast again later as well.

#96523 Gem on Samuels Ave. - The Garvey House

Posted by John S. on 16 March 2016 - 10:38 AM

Thought I would share a brief update about the status of the endangered Garvey House. My spouse and I sat in on a preliminary meeting of the Historical & Cultural Landmarks Commission this past Monday. An agent representing the property owner appeared with the great news that a full restoration of the Garvey House (to meet Sec. of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation) is being planned. It is part of a larger development plan which is still very early in the design process, so I'll focus on the Garvey House. Preliminary site plans were shared but some members of the Commission disliked the configuration and suggested some additional design configuration work. I hope it was not lost on Commission members that this offer to restore the Garvey House as part of a larger development is the last and best hope for this badly deteriorated residence. My spouse and I witnessed several other cases brought up for demolition approval and there was a 70% threshold of deteriorated condition that, if met, opened the path for demolition approval. While the Garvey House has not reached the 70% deteriorated threshold, it could within the next year or two. I hope with further planning, design, and coordination with City officials,  that a workable plan can be created that both satisfies the needs of the developers/investors as well as insures that the Garvey House will be standing half a century from now. I felt the gesture to invest a substantial dollar amount in the rehab of the Garvey House was generous and indicates a sensitivity toward preservation. (a rare trait among urban developers)  As mentioned, without prompt intervention, the Garvey House could be lost forever. Additional development is a separate matter and can usually be worked out and approved through a process of communications between City staff and the developer's architects. While I oppose carte blanche type development in historic settings in this case having investment in and new residents living around the Garvey House will again make the landmark residence the pride of the neighborhood.

#96061 Gem on Samuels Ave. - The Garvey House

Posted by John S. on 16 February 2016 - 08:56 PM

Small update: Roofing contractor estimators were out at the Garvey House today taking measurements. A few days ago, some construction estimators were there taking stock and measurements of the various rooms in the house. Although no one wanted to give out much information, it appears the Garvey House may have a new owner(s) or, the owner who has long been absent has decided now to move forward with its renovation. I talked with a former owner of the property and he heard that the house is to be renovated into office use, which I consider a compatible approach that should not detract from the historic character or period details of this landmark home. It remains to be seen how thorough or preservation focused the renovation will be but anything at this point is better than it being vacant. I hope the wrought iron fence and stonework in front will be retained but I suppose that depends on the budget allocated for the project. Rumors continue to circulate that developers are eyeing land near the Garvey house but the information is too sketchy to provide any more information than that. Fort Worth seems to be in the midst of a construction/development boom again.

#95885 Cannabis Convention in Fort Worth

Posted by John S. on 03 February 2016 - 01:59 PM

Had to chuckle reading about this "event". Strange thoughts swirled around in my mind that if such conventions were to become regular local fare, Fort Worth would henceforth be known as the city of "Cowboys, Culture...and Cannabis" (gasp!) Perhaps that's not so far-fetched when Texas Country Music legend Willie Nelson has his personal brand/strain of cannabis sold legally in Colorado. His own legal problems surrounding his championing of the illegal weed are well documented. As a disclaimer, I'll reluctantly admit during my wild and woolly days of youth in the early 1970's I did take a toke or two but doubtful such an admission will excuse or preclude me from upcoming Jury Duty.


It also poignantly reminds me of the shock I felt during my childhood after finding out that some of my otherwise pious Protestant families members (among them even Church Deacons) had clandestine stashes of liquors hidden in ingenious places in their homes. At least I was spared the horrors of actually seeing them consume alcoholic beverages; that would have just been too much for my impressionable young mind to accept. But the ability to present a public image of virtuous propriety while having some secret vices has long been part of our Texas culture. I recall our now grown son bringing home a flyer handed out by some fringe religious group standing at the Tarrant County courthouse extolling the use of Marijuana as a sacrament of their faith. Might have worked to proselytize in some places but even here the definition of religious freedom has limits. Among the other handed-down tidbits of Cannabis related lore, I recall seeing an old newspaper clipping from the early 1950's when my then Police officer Dad was praised for busting some poor soul who had a single Marijuana joint found in a pants pocket. I don't recall the sentence handed down, but I do remember that until Texas laws were changed in the early 1970's possession of any measurable amount of pot when convicted, carried up to a 99 year sentence in state prison. Small wonder that expecting a more relaxed attitude by our State is unrealistic despite the fact that the K-2, which was legally sold for a while, is prevalent and arguably far more harmful to users than Cannabis. But at least in Texas, it's less of a health or scientific argument and more about overcoming old attitudes and cultural stigmas associated with it.  At age 65, I seriously doubt Cannabis will be made legal in Texas during my lifetime. Perhaps the best and most enlightened development that could be hoped for is allowing a limited medical use under strict supervision. Our drug of choice in Texas is and will probably always be liquor (we still have dry counties and cities) despite the lives lost to DWI's as well as wrecked families and careers because of its legal use. I could make an argument that as State revenue coffers are dwindling due to low Oil prices, making Cannabis legal and heavily taxed in our state might make up for some of the revenue shortfall but again, it's more of a cultural-moral issue with a stigma from the past standing in the way of a more relaxed attitude from state legislators. It will take far more than a few "Cannabis" conventions to change that in my opinion.

#95840 Trinity Bluffs Urban Residences

Posted by John S. on 29 January 2016 - 07:51 PM

Mr. McWilliams spoke to me two or three years ago about looking for a lot with a smaller footprint. At the time, the only thing I knew about him was the work he was doing over on Race street. Looks like he and the design review board did not exactly align on the proposed designs hence the request to work on the design aesthetics. I'm all for architectural diversity, so hope some of his vision is included in the final plan. Most of the apartments along Samuels are very tame design-wise and could be located anywhere in the DFW metroplex. I think monotony of design leads to a boring streetscape. Years ago, the development vision shared by one of the neighborhood's developers evoked a Parisian street cafe environment with sidewalk cafes and coffeehouses, mixed retail shops, and some of the Sundance Square/West 7th vibe. No retail exists on Samuels. I think there's room for an Aldi (which I believe would be well patronized) and maybe a Starbucks. (scads of younger apartment dwellers as well as TCC students would appreciate one) The freshly vacant lots due north of Villa DeLeon come to mind for such a use.  Other similar venues are needed to liven up what has fallen far short of the early developer visions. Where are the developers with vision? Saturating the neighborhood with yet more apartment blocks guarantees once they get a decade or two old no one will want to live there. Just my 2 cents worth...

#95109 Gem on Samuels Ave. - The Garvey House

Posted by John S. on 13 December 2015 - 04:17 PM

No Garvey House updates to share, unfortunately. As for the owner wishing to demolish the historic Garvey home, no, I don't believe that is the case. My most recent conversation with the owner did involve the possibility of the Garvey house being sold for a token amount and moved off the lot but that was firmly presented in the "as a last resort" category. No dirt has broken ground for any new projects in the Samuels Avenue/Rock Island neighborhood in over a year since Lincoln Properties finished the last phase of their apartment expansion project. I did speak with a former neighborhood developer at a meeting with City and Downtown Ft. Worth, Inc. officials on November 12, (to extend downtown FW design standards to Samuels Avenue by Spring, 2016) and he suggested that someone else might be interested in the land from the apparently cancelled apartment project by Carleton Properties, (not the Garvey House site) but I have heard nothing since. In summary, I won't rule out future development in the neighborhood but nothing I've heard over the past year indicates its about to resume. Thus, if the owner of the Garvey House property is looking at development possibilities, for now, none is evident. If I may offer a suggestion, I believe the best possible outcome for the Garvey house would be for the current owner to sell it and allow someone else to do the renovation. Otherwise, the current impasse situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. At least the Garvey House is properly boarded up and secure currently making it less likely to suffer further vandalism. A couple of individuals have privately emailed me requesting contact information for the Garvey House owner so I refer them to the Tarrant Appraisal District site for that information. The best I can do for now is to keep my fingers crossed that there will be positive changes for the historic home in the year to come and there's little else to add. We still have our 1888 Victorian (823 Samuels, recently reduced to under $275K) on the market and buyer interest has been light lately so I think it may be a while before the Garvey House could see better days again.

#94784 Hyde-Jennings House

Posted by John S. on 26 November 2015 - 01:49 PM


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.

#94743 Hyde-Jennings House

Posted by John S. on 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.

#94729 Hyde-Jennings House

Posted by John S. on 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.

#94307 Downtown Design District Expansion

Posted by John S. on 02 November 2015 - 11:24 AM


We too received the same invitation to RSVP. I did send a message to Melissa confirming our intent to be at the meeting. I did expand a bit on the current state of things on Samuels Avenue/Rock Island and mentioned the empty promises we had received from developers about retail amenities that were supposed to be an integral part of the apartment and condo construction projects. The housing units were built, but no retail venues came with them. The new design guidelines draft sets up standards for construction and additions and specifically bans vinyl siding in most cases. On the plus side, the City proposes to expand neighborhood sidewalks to 7 feet wide with pedestrian lighting every 60 feet. I went on to mention to Melissa that when Mayor Barr came through the neighborhood years ago, I suggested to the mayor that we could perhaps have historic style lighting, brick pavers, and a short trolley line between downtown and the Stockyards via Samuels Avenue.  Historically, a horse drawn trolley traveled down Samuels Avenue from the Courthouse to The Pavilion, a Victorian era park and beer garden close to Traders Oak Park on the north end of Samuels. Today, we have several horse drawn carriages going down Samuels which come from the Stockyards to Sundance Square and then back several times a week and on weekends.  With the proposed Stockyards redevelopment I can't imagine Samuels Avenue not being part of that Western themed renaissance connecting the Stockyards with downtown. I know, I'm a dreamer and dreams seldom match reality, but if I were a hard core realist I'd never moved to Samuels Avenue 26 years ago. As for new projects, I feel a catalyst is needed. Perhaps that catalyst could come from David Weekley Homes which is building some luxury ($760k and up) urban single family spec homes near the Hillside Addition. A neighbor who is also a realtor, has been trying to get someone interested in single family housing construction on Samuels. If a custom builder were willing to take a chance, that might move things forward. I've also had the idea of in-fill housing based on historical antecedents that would compliment the historic character of this oldest of Fort Worth neighborhoods. Should any preservation minded developer want to bring in some nice genuine Victorian era houses, I have a long list of houses primarily in the Midwest to choose from like this highly endangered 1870's Italianate in Jacksonville, IL where we visited a few weeks ago: https://flic.kr/p/AfAYDy

It's possible to cut these houses into flatbed trailer size sections and transport them to a new site for re-assembly. A similar house, the early 1880's Italianate style Isaac Foster House, since demolished, once stood at 761 Samuels next to the endangered Garvey House. But years ago I realized how unlikely it was that the Victorian era survivors remaining on Samuels would ever become part of a historic district. (worth noting is that the proposed draft guidelines are far stricter than most historic district guidelines) But some long-time residents objected to such changes in the past; however, they are no longer part of the neighborhood having either passed away or moved. Samuels Avenue-Rock Island is like a half-finished painting showing great potential yet still waiting to be completed.  Andy, we'll see you at the meeting...