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John S.

Member Since 30 Dec 2007
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 10:57 AM

#93724 Richard Rainwater 1944 - 2015

Posted by John S. on 28 September 2015 - 03:50 PM

Like some other larger-than-life figures we've lost in recent years, Mr. Rainwater's passing is a sad event and loss for the entire city. Back when I was a brash ambitious business major in college during the early 1980's I subscribed to and religiously read Business Week magazine. Almost on a weekly basis, the magazine extolled the latest acquisition or turnaround orchestrated by Mr. Rainwater. His close involvement as an investment advisor for the Bass Family surely helped provide them with the means for their great contributions to downtown Fort Worth. I can think of no one else who could now follow in Mr. Rainwater's footsteps so his contributions directly and indirectly to Fort Worth will long be remembered. I appreciate you posting this information.

#93376 Trinity Bluffs Urban Residences

Posted by John S. on 08 September 2015 - 12:58 PM


As I recall, another developer wanted to do a project in that vicinity about 15 years ago and proposed a high rise tower. However, because of the proximity to our landmark courthouse the design was thought to be detrimental in obstructing views of the courthouse. A proposed 12 story limit was offered as an alternative but rejected by the developer. It is my understanding at the time this land was owned by the Bass family and one of the members objected to having  a tall tower there. There are attractive alternatives in the mid-rise range as seen along North Central Expressway/I-75 in Dallas and in the same in throughout Addison. A modernist sleek black glass 5-6 story mixed use structure would look great, IMO and would complement TCC's Modernist Health Sciences building.  This area is becoming a downtown core with all the new development and increasing national attention to Sundance Square.

#92576 1888 Riley-Lehane House 823 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 26 July 2015 - 12:45 PM

You're welcome, John. I forgot to mention that, for unknown reasons, our MLS listing shows 2 bedrooms when in fact there have always been THREE (3) bedrooms in the 1888 Riley-Lehane house and rather large ones at that. I've attempted several times to get our agents, who acknowledged the error, to make a listing correction without success so far.

With the announced Stockyards development, the increasing popularity of Panther Island, as well as downtown construction projects coming to completion while others are being announced, its only a matter of time before development pressures increase again on Samuels Avenue. I know our neighbor and realtor Gwen Harper (760 Samuels; the historic Getzendaner House) is wanting some kind of protection for the documented historic homes remaining on Samuels and we fully support her efforts. While on the subject, I also want to voice concern about the Garvey House, a state and local landmarked towered Queen Anne style house from the 1890's. I had hoped after a winter lull that renovation work would resume again on this major historic home but we are now past the mid-summer mark and no activity has been noticed. The property sold last Fall after the family that had owned it since 1972 had decided it best to sell. The Garvey House buyer did the interior demolition work that was deemed necessary, cleaned up the debris, and then stopped. As we know, development in Fort Worth comes in waves and cycles and I have no doubt that once development ramps up in the Stockyards district (just a couple of blocks to the northwest of Samuels/Decatur Avenues) and the Trinity River Vision makes more progress, that attention to Samuels Avenue will increase again. Let's hope by that time some measure of protection to help preserve some of the earliest homes remaining in Fort Worth will be in place. We turned down a developer's offer back in 2008 but I'm not sure we could do so now. Then again, people looking for Victorian era homes to restore in Fort Worth seem to be as rare as the few survivors we still have here.

#91562 1888 Riley-Lehane House 823 Samuels Avenue

Posted by John S. on 18 May 2015 - 03:50 PM

Hi All,

Since this may seem as self-serving, I'm reluctant to post anything about our home on the forum but there is a preservation side to this issue. I won't go into all the changes on Samuels Avenue that have occurred since we bought the historic Riley-Lehane house in 1989; in 2008 the property was almost sold to a developer for more than is being asked for now. The landmarked 1890's Queen Anne style Garvey house was sold to a lawyer-investor last September but remains partially gutted without any signs of work since last November. I keep hoping for a favorable outcome. Far more encouraging is the mid-1880's Getzendaner House at 760 Samuels that was given a new lease on life over the past two years. (Thanks, Gwen and Jim!) Now we have 823 Samuels which would have been fully restored by now if the economic winds of fate had been more favorable over the years. Age (64) is starting to creep up as well; I can no longer stand working on scaffolding or a ladder for a full day. In short, it's time to pass this well preserved Fort Worth home on to some new, caring owners with the resources to complete the restoration. They will become only the third owners to live in the house because the original owners, members of the Riley-Lehane family, lived here for 98 years! (1890-1988) I was honored to have 823 Samuels posted on the nationally known Old House Dreams website: http://www.oldhoused...ort-worth-tx-2/   There are some interior photos, and an extensive number of archival images and historical narrative. It would be improper to discuss pricing here but I will add it's negotiable. Any prospective buyer will be offered my entire collection of documentary resources not only this property but for all of Samuels Avenue as well. Concerns about redevelopment are valid but currently there are no announced projects pending. Carleton Properties announced in Oct. 2013 a 230+ unit apartment complex with an eleven story tower across from Pioneers Rest Cemetery but the 6.4 acre parcel has been recently placed up for sale. A long time major developer exited the neighborhood a couple of years ago. There's at least some indication that the middle of the Samuels Avenue/Rock Island neighborhood will remain residential and mostly single family for the foreseeable future. Age and (spouse's) declining health now make it a favorable time to sell and relocate from downtown to a quieter, perhaps rural locale. The Stockyards District is but a couple of blocks due north off Decatur Avenue. From a strictly preservation perspective, documented 1880's vintage houses are exceedingly rare in Fort Worth; most early homes remaining here are on Samuels Avenue. It is my wish and hope the next owners can restore the Riley-Lehane House back to period perfection and will seek out national register and/or Registered Texas Historic Landmark (R.T.H.L.) designation  for the home. All the documentation necessary for such designation is available. We raised our two children from pre-school to graduation and adulthood here and will always have many fond memories of this special place. Realtor contact information is available on the Old House Dreams site and I'll be happy to answer any questions if I have the answers. I'm hoping there is at least one preservation minded prospective buyer we can work with in our city. Posting the 1880's Getzendaner House (760 Samuels) and the 1890's Garvey House (769) on the Fort Worth Forum led to their sale, so I'm hoping by posting 823 Samuels here the preservation work I began long ago can be continued. Not many intact Victorian era homes remain here. My apologies to John Roberts if posting this is inappropriate; it was posted on Historic Fort Worth's site a couple of years ago but did not generate a lot of interest.

#91450 HFW 2015 Most Endangered List

Posted by John S. on 08 May 2015 - 05:44 PM

Too political? Really? One statement got my attention: "By including the Stockyards, Historic Fort Worth gets into the middle of a dispute between some property owners who want to limit changes in the area and those who support a major new development there." Is this a way of saying when development is on the table, no places are important enough for broad protection that may somehow limit or delay new development? After all, Fort Worth has such a sterling preservation record so I'm sure any developers will recognize the historic and cultural significance of the Stockyards and will strive to preserve those assets in their re-development plans. Editorial opinions are just that so those who support the cause of historic preservation are free to view things differently. I personally think development can be a force for good and when preservation is part of the plan, (as in the successful Hillside residential development) everyone wins. Political or not, Historic Fort Worth is the voice of preservation in our city and I believe it has done a remarkable job with very limited resources. I dread the day when there are not enough historic sites remaining to make a list but I consider that a real possibility in the years ahead. Even "progressive" Dallas has arguably done a better job at preserving their built heritage and historic sites than we have. It makes me wonder from the editorial if the newspaper itself is too politically biased in favor of developers than the broad citizenry of our city? Why can't we have new development which includes historic preservation? The two should not be considered mutually exclusive in an enlightened major American city like ours.

#91168 Trinity Bluffs Urban Residences

Posted by John S. on 18 April 2015 - 05:06 PM

Thanks for posting the article, Austin55. I see a familiar pattern here. In 2004 local newspapers and media were talking in glowing terms about the fabulous future downtown development planned along the Trinity Bluff. Like the fabled early 1890's Arlington Heights project launched by H. B. Chamberlain when he bought 2,000 acres of land from Chicago financier Tom Hurley and local attorney Robert McCart, the Trinity Bluffs development has fallen far short of the original vision. This six acre highlighted tract in the article is the same as that owned by Carleton Properties so apparently the envisioned 230+ units and an 11 story tower project announced by Carleton in Oct. 2013, is no more.


Not to worry, though. I'm sure the folks from Lincoln Properties are looking at this available land and trying to decide if it would be practical to extend their blocks of apartment buildings further to the north along Samuels Avenue.  The location remains prime in its proximity to downtown and local transportation hubs but the will to create something beyond yet more blocks of generic apartments apparently does not exist anymore. Trinity Bluffs was once promised to have retail and services business combined with residential housing, but nothing happened. The Great Recession steered development money towards less risky apartments construction and now a development pattern has been set. I distinctly recall the since moved on developer excitedly showing conceptual renderings of a "Parisian cafe" type street environment with Bistros and small boutique type businesses sharing the street with his upstairs apartments and condos. In what (I dislike saying) is in typical Fort Worth fashion, the grand visions announced a decade ago have turned out to be far more modest, perhaps even below minimal expectations. In this situation, the fate of the entire Trinity Bluff development may depend on who buys this multi acre tract and what they intend to do with it. My betting money is on yet more predictable and investment-safe apartments being built, not anything grand or innovative. (of course, I'd love to be mistaken) As for new retail, I think the only way at this point to get any retail in the neighborhood would be to give away free land. (some sections are already in a TIF district)

Perhaps having to settle for less is just part of our City's character and culture-our larger and richer neighbor to the east gets most of the exciting urban "bling" in the Metroplex but Fort Worth does have redeeming qualities in the wonderful people who live here. It might take the Trinity River Vision coming to fruition in another decade or so for something great to come to this re-branded urban neighborhood, that is, if any undeveloped land remains then. On the plus side, long time Samuels Avenue/Rock Island residents can take a breather because the neighborhood core is now almost as quiet and stable as it was before developers arrived. Still no retail, though. (even less than before development arrived when we had two convenience stores and a restaurant in the neighborhood) In summary, I'm a bit disappointed but not surprised.

#89491 Shock: Radio Shack may leave FW!!!!

Posted by John S. on 16 January 2015 - 01:22 PM

Sad indeed but not unexpected..RS has been trying to find a profitable market niche for years but has been facing stiff competition from retailers like Best Buy and online retailers like Amazon. As I mentioned in another post, the decline in oil prices also hits home locally as the S-T headlines underscore: "Slumberger lays off 9,000 workers" and "Low oil prices could bring office vacancies and job losses in Tarrant County"  It was noted also that Sprint was in negotiations with RS regarding some of their assets. Hopefully, lower oil prices will lead to greater economic activity in sectors like airlines, shipping, and trucking, which benefit when fuel prices are lower.  At least to some extent, lower gas prices make commuting more affordable, thus also makes living out in the suburbs cheaper in the area of fuel costs for commuting. When its all said and done, we are probably looking at slower economic growth locally for the next year or two especially if Radio Shack's assets are sold off and the venerable local firm ceases to exist.

#88680 Fort Worth 2014- Year in Review

Posted by John S. on 28 November 2014 - 02:04 PM

Update: As for the 1890's Victorian Queen Anne style Garvey House at 769 Samuels Avenue, progress has been slow in recent weeks. The buyer's contractors have gutted the two garage apartments in preparation for renovations but have yet to go beyond that. As far as I know, the kitchen, a couple of back rooms/bathroom, and the former butler's pantry have also been gutted in the main house. I would never argue against taking a slow, methodical approach to bringing this unique property back but I think it will be well into 2015 before we'll see some some major progress on this project. As for the long-awaited apartment project by Carleton Properties in the 500 block of Samuels, the three properties encircled by a fence remain so but no evidence of any other activity is visible. If no sign of activity appears soon, I will again wonder if this project has been mothballed or is merely taking longer than expected. I know some negotiations were supposed to transpire between the developers and the Corps of Engineers regarding the impact of constructing a tower on the bluff but have heard nothing about where that stands currently. I expect 2015 will be as busy a year for projects in Fort Worth as 2014 has been. Slow and steady have long been the tempo of development in Fort Worth which helps our community to largely avoid boom and bust cycles.

#86619 Preserving Historic Photos

Posted by John S. on 13 August 2014 - 10:46 AM

I'm just glad that, thousands of years from now when the apes are digging up and excavating our extinct civilization, they will not find the old Civil Courts Building.

Amen, to that one...

#86584 Preserving Historic Photos

Posted by John S. on 12 August 2014 - 02:14 PM

The deterioration of historic artifacts over time is a challenging problem for museums and artifact repositories. I've read that quite a few movies from the old silent films era (before the late 1920's) have been lost due to film deterioration. The Library of Congress spent millions having their collections of rare books de-acidified by a conservation firm to buy them additional life. Nothing lasts forever but we should do whatever is reasonably necessary to preserve our collective cultural record. Sometimes the only record we have of lost places is an old photograph or a rare illustration on paper. As noted, such conservation work is not cheap, so private owners-collectors and repositories with lesser means may continue to lose precious artifacts because they do not have access and cannot afford such conservation measures.  I suppose ten thousand years from now none of this will matter; there may not be any records left then from our era. (or anyone left to see them) but for now, the conservation issue is relevant.

#86554 If "Hell's Half Acre" stayed...

Posted by John S. on 11 August 2014 - 11:33 AM


A sinister figure in raggedy clothes to visually represent the "Acre"?  While shady characters were a mainstay of the district quite a few businessmen and other respectable types frequented the Acre. Some of the high-rolling gamblers wore nice suits. Not sure if a Snidely Whiplash type figure really typifies the flavor of the acre but since its for a local brew, I suppose it doesn't matter.

I think you've got a point here, so far as being an art critic is concerned.  The cartoon figure depicted in Rahr & Son's advertising looks more like a Dickens-era character, circa 1850s.  Fort Worth was barely in existence at that time.  I would have suggested a cowboy drover-type or perhaps a Brett Maverick-looking card-sharp caricature.


True. Johnfwd...beaver fur top hats were popular until the time of Lincoln. A Cowboy would be more representative of old Fort Worth if we were looking for authentic cultural icons. An error was made when referring to the Acre's working girls as "Lonesome Doves". The original name came from Lonesome Dove Creek near Grapevine where a group of twelve Peters Colonists gathered in the early 1850's to form the Lonesome Dove Baptist Church. (from J.K. Garrett's Fort Worth-A Frontier Triumph) Of course, author Larry McMurtry took the Lonesome Dove name and made it the title of books, a TV mini-series, and a film script.  I believe the Lonesome Dove reference pertains to the bird call of the American Mourning Dove or also called a Turtle Dove-a very common game bird across the Plains. Loneliness may have been a part of the hard life of the Acre's working girls but the threats from violence/physical abuse, alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as disease were far worse. Local preachers tried to portray the Acre's "soiled doves" as victims of society deserving a better life in their morality sermons aimed at closing down the acre. I think we tend to look back on the Acre nostalgically through rose colored glasses with the passage of time but its difficult to find much positive to say about the district. (outside of the handed-down stories which some are probably pure fabrication such as the "Crucifixion of Sally" for which author of Hell's Half Acre, historian Dr. Richard Selcer, could find no factual evidence to support) Now with all of the talk about the Rahr labeled beer, I feel obliged to try some the next time I encounter the brand.

#86531 2014 Governor's race and no debates?

Posted by John S. on 10 August 2014 - 03:12 PM

I agree at this point the ideological differences between Abbott and Davis are so starkly contrasting that neither would have much to gain by public debates. Abbott is simply aligning himself with the Conservative ideology that wins elections in Texas (a formulaic strategy of embracing Conservative "values" that worked well for Bush, Perry)  and can sit back at election time to watch the votes come in. Davis will probably have a respectable showing but is being outspent by a wide margin. It's a shame that elections are determined more by ethnic, cultural, moral, and religious ideological issues than by real substance but that's the polarized political reality we live in these days. Perhaps when the Hispanic minority (which is a de facto majority in most Texas cities) becomes a voting majority, will Democratic Texas candidates running for the governorship and national elections have improved chances for winning. Wendy was once our neighborhood council representative and I was favorably impressed by her comments at neighborhood meetings but she is in the big league now with heavy political donors, special interest lobbyists, and professional media campaigning-her recent ad portraying Abbott as opposing a settlement years ago by a vacuum cleaner company to an individual criminally/sexually harmed by one of their commissioned salesmen seems like an awkward way to demonstrate her moral superiority.  Both sides will undoubtedly engage in ("mud-slinging") negative ad campaigning but Davis, even in the surprising event of a victory, would still have to work with a Conservative Republican dominated state government. I wish her the best but must agree with JBB's comments about the probable outcome of the November election.

#86529 If "Hell's Half Acre" stayed...

Posted by John S. on 10 August 2014 - 02:43 PM

A sinister figure in raggedy clothes to visually represent the "Acre"?  While shady characters were a mainstay of the district quite a few businessmen and other respectable types frequented the Acre. Some of the high-rolling gamblers wore nice suits. Not sure if a Snidely Whiplash type figure really typifies the flavor of the acre but since its for a local brew, I suppose it doesn't matter. An illustration of some grinning "working girls" showing fancy stocking wearing legs out on a balcony or dust-covered Cowboys off the trail and fortune seeking strangers quenching their thirst at a fancy Victorian type bar in a saloon might be more representative of the Acre, but since this is a "limited release" local beer, historical accuracy isn't important. It's the notorious old name that counts...I'll give a thumbs up to any product that commemorates Fort Worth's early history.

#86449 Gem on Samuels Ave. - The Garvey House

Posted by John S. on 06 August 2014 - 06:46 PM

I'm pleased to announce today ownership of the landmarked Garvey House changed hands. I'm not a liberty to discuss the selling price except to say I believe the buyer got a very good deal. The new owner is a younger local attorney with some past rehab experience and enough enthusiasm to tackle a project of this magnitude. I expect exciting things to occur in the days ahead as the property gradually returns to being the pride of the neighborhood. Many thanks are due to Gwen (Mrs. Jim Harper) who steered the buyer towards this unique property. Thanks are due as well to the buyer for patiently navigating all of the technicalities, survey requirements, and lending hurdles to reach his goal. My hopes for the potential of this property's rehab to help stabilize and continue the residential character in the older part of Samuels Avenue-Rock Island have never been higher. In simpler words, this could be a game changer for the oldest neighborhood in Fort Worth. I look forward to the historic Garvey property anchoring this part of the neighborhood for many more years. The Harpers showed what could be done with a tired old house across the street a couple of years ago by rehabbing the c. 1885 Getzendaner place; now its the Garvey house's turn. I wish the new owner the very best for taking on this project. The coming weeks and months will be exciting.

#86415 Bryan Avenue Industrial Building Redevelopment

Posted by John S. on 05 August 2014 - 03:23 PM

The profile outline is vaguely Spanish Colonial/Mission Revival with the top of the walls capped with what appear to be Spanish type clay tiles. The brickwork is very eclectic with some evidence of brick patterning (deliberate or otherwise) but overall would seem to be bricks used from a variety of sources. Maybe ideas for contrasting brick patterns were being tried out on this building? Perhaps the builders were in the construction trades and these were left-overs from various projects? Most commercial buildings of this type I've seen date from between the World Wars (1920-1940) Patent dates on items can be useful but such fire doors could have been made for decades or even re-purposed from another installation. Sanborn fire maps might put the building into a closer timeframe. Old city directories might also be of help. I'm sure the information is out there. 1955 does seem too late for a building of this form and construction. Good to hear its getting a second lease on life.