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Samuels Avenue: No future for the past?


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#1 John S.

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 09:52 AM


Samuels Avenue: No future for the past?

Since this is my initial post, a brief introduction may be in order. First, I am an unapologetic historic preservationist and have dedicated the best years of my life to that cause. My passion for history and the architecture of the past has taken me to points as far away as California where I recreated a Gothic Revival porch for the 1860 Greenwood-Winslow House, Vallejo, CA city landmark number 23. I've also in recent years performed preservation award-winning work in St. Joseph, MO, the historic home of the Pony Express. A Victorian architectural discussion group I created on Yahoo in 2001 now has over 500 members from all parts of the U.S. and as far away as the U.K. and Australia. As I said, I have a passion for the past.

In 1989 my wife and I bought a once-proud but neglected 1889 Victorian house on Samuels Avenue. It had remained in the same family since 1890 and though frayed, was incredibly intact. My wife and I were well-educated, but certainly not dilettantes nor elitists, our children were schooled in local public schools and we chose to reach out to the neighborhood's residents while striving to improve the community. We were not wealthy either, working to restore our historic home has been an uphill battle, always trying to find either the time or the money to get every small project done in a preservation sensitive manner.

When new development was announced a few years back, like many Samuels Avenue residents, we were curious and cautiously optimistic that some good might come of it. With the new development came the pain, learning that many historic remnants of Samuels Avenue, the birthplace of Fort Worth, were going to be lost forever. The 1890's Fishback Saloon, which became a corner grocery after prohibition, was quietly lost to the bulldozers. The rare Italianate style 1882 Isaac Foster house, (Mary Cornelia Foster was the daughter of Baldwin Samuel, the street's namesake) also for many years the residence of the Poole family, was demolished at the same time. A number of architecturally interesting historic houses on Peach, Cummings, (early Judge C.C. Cumings had his home there) and Bluff St. were also lost to progress. Only a couple of months ago, the 1885 Matney house along with some minor nearby cottages were also demolished without fanfare.

In 2004, I saw the proverbial writing on the wall and took my energy and talents to Missouri and later northern California while placing my historic home on the market. A sale of our home never happened yet development continued in the interim. Fast forward to recent weeks when I returned to Fort Worth and now the neighborhood is in full transition. The newly erected crane at the Villa De Leon site makes this major change visible far and wide. Despite an apparent national economic slump, development momentum appears unimpeded in the neighborhood.

Like the Kelleys who own the Texas/Ft. Worth City registered landmark Garvey-Viehl Mansion at 761 Samuels, our strategy now is to soon sell our property knowing well that the site will likely be re-developed. Since Fort Worth seems determined to emulate our larger neighbor to the East, perhaps we should go one step further and create a "petting zoo" for saved historic architecture as Dallas has done with Old City Park? Saving Samuels Avenue itself is not feasible-large landowners here object to any historic zoning and once the few old survivors are surrounded by much larger fresh high-rises, the juxtaposition will make them look odd, to say the least. We cling to the hope that our historic 1889 dwelling will be moved and preserved as it is not only quite intact but extremely well documented.

As for the on-going controversy about the aesthetic and architectural merits of Villa De Leon, a good argument could be made that it "fits" the Fort Worth image. Would an ersatz Art Deco inspired design by our friendly Washington-based architect work better? Given the history of Samuels Avenue, could a towering Victorian Richardsonian Romanesque style edifice have blended in better with the now missing small Victorian style cottages? Spanish or Mission Revival has long been a southwestern staple with examples found from Florida to California. Mr. Struhs, the developer, hails from San Antonio and recognizes that Texas has always had an undeniable Spanish heritage. Look at the 12-story Forest Park Apartments, the old Firestone Building, even Charles E. Nash Elementary, are these and many others not "Spanish" influenced designs? Design concerns aside, I do admire the courage of Mr. Struhs to create one of Fort Worth's most prestigious future addresses in a former slum area. Samuels Avenue has come full circle-from early elegance to comfortable maturity followed by a long decline and now back to elegance.

Before I relocate again to new digs out of state, I'd heartily welcome sharing information and ideas from members of the forum with interest in Samuels Avenue and its fabled history. Hats off to Mr. Roberts for creating this online community. Perhaps as a benefit, better future designs will result as Fort Worth continues to grow. To all my old friends from Fort Worth's Preservation community: "Hi, I'm back!"
Regards,
John S. on
Samuels Avenue

#2 John T Roberts

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 09:57 PM

John S., thank you for your comments. A few of us on this board have been working toward creating a historic district on Samuels Avenue. After spending three years working on this, nothing has happened. This is probably due to the turnover in the City Preservation Officer position and the fact that the former Council Member for the area did not get a district approved before she left office. It is very frustrating working on preservation here in the city. I'm hoping that our new Council Member will work toward getting some kind of historic district established for Samuels Avenue before the entire neighborhood is lost.

If you would like to see your house preserved, would you be willing to get it designated as a Local Historic and Cultural Landmark?

#3 John S.

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 08:28 AM

Mr. Roberts,

Thank you for your comments. If you had asked me about establishing a historic district on Samuels Avenue five years ago, I would have responded with an unequivocal "Yes". At that time, there were still enough historic homes along the street for that proposal to make sense. More importantly, neighborhood sentiments were still somewhat sympathetic to that concept. The motivation to sell that comes with financial windfalls was not quite as strong.

One of the results of living in this neighborhood for so many years is getting to know most of our neighbors. Our venerable voice of reason for the neighborhood, Mr. Burda, owns a house two doors down from mine. Directly across the street, Mr. Stuhs has employed Preston-Carter to lease his land for retail, mixed-use development. Behind my house, the large, multi-acre site is owned by a prominent West Side family vehemently opposed to any property restrictions and have expressed the desire to sell the property when their financial expectations can be fulfilled.

It is true that a single property can be designated with a historic zoning overlay, however, from my personal perspective, the valuable land along the bluff is destined to be high density in the future, not the pastoral setting of the past created by benign neglect. Were Brenda Kelley (God rest her soul) still alive, at least the landmark Garvey-Viehl House could be assured of continuity. The reality is her two sons are today patiently waiting to sell for redevelopment-a large financial windfall likely outweighing preservation considerations.

Moreover, for many good reasons, I desire to relocate to another historic residential area where my talents and energy can better be put to good use. I have no desire as an aging boomer to sit on my front porch looking across the street at a high-rise or Starbucks. Financially, I cannot afford the huge surge in property taxes that is sure to come in the immediate future. In conclusion, I envision Samuels Avenue of the future (maybe 10 years or so) to be a newly redeveloped part of downtown sprinkled with a few isolated examples of its past since converted to law offices and such with perhaps one museum house . (the Garvey-Viehl Queen Anne style home being the obvious choice) Samuels Avenue is today where the Quality Hill/Summit Avenue neighborhood was about 25 years ago. The time to put Historic Preservation covenants and easements into effect was 10 years ago (when the local historical commission was actually working on that prospect) I'm afraid today it would be a frustrating case of too little, too late.

The only Samuels Avenue historical resource I can confidently say will remain stable is Pioneers Rest Cemetery. However, sporadic vandalism there is an on-going threat. Wish I could be more optimistic but at age 57 I no longer look at the world through rose-colored glasses. The idealism of my younger days has been replaced with the pragmatism of maturity.

John S.



#4 AndyN

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 02:57 PM

I agree with most of what John S. has said. I talked to some of my neighbors right not long after I moved into the neighborhood and got little/no support for the concept of historic preservation. As much as I appreciate the history of my neighborhood, it seems doomed to redevelopment. Heck, the neighborhood association doesn't even meet anymore. I question the value of putting any substantial amount of money into my house since I don't think I could realize a return on it if I sell in the future. The land will be worth more than the house.

Where was the Fishback Saloon? Was that a little white commercial building at the intersection with Gounah? I wish I had photos of the southern end of Samuels, my memories of the houses and buildings that were there are fading as it seems like the road has been under construction forever.

Also, I think the Sear Roebuck catalog house was moved perhaps to the log cabin village, I think.
Www.fortwortharchitecture.com

#5 John S.

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 10:27 AM

Hi Andy,

Glad to learn another Samuels Avenue property owner is on the list. The Fishback Saloon (so named after the original owner, Mr. Fishback) was indeed located on the southest corner of Gounah and Samuels. According to some verbal sources it was originally a two story structure with a false front type facade. One "legend" circulated was that the upstairs was used for illegal activities but there's no way to confirm that. Also unconfirmed was that the structure was remodeled during prohibition (the upstairs removed) and a single story corner grocery established. Some of the older neighbors remember buying groceries there from the 1940's-1960's. It was later bought by Mr. Burda and used for storage until he sold to Mr. Struhs.
I had an opportunity to see the interior prior to demolition and several early features remained. Victorian double doors remained at the entry; one had been boarded over. The doors had a nice millwork border with bull's eye corner blocks and thick old glass. Inside, were eight 6 x 6" twelve foot tall pine columns with chamfered edges-I was able to salvage one of them before the demolition contractor scooped up the remains and hauled them away. In the back room was evidence of a staircase which went no-where, lending credence to the earlier second floor theory. Some sheetrock had collapsed from the ceiling when I saw it and the original wall treatment of shiplap boards covered by tacked-on muslin cloth to which was attached tattered wallpaper was revealed-a common wall treatment for that era. I took a photo of the Fishback pre-demolition and one showing the demolition carnage before the site was scooped clean.

I still have the single saved Fishback support column in storage along with bits and pieces of a number of vanished Samuels Avenue structures. (all salvaged prior to the Trinity Uptown projects) ) I did not salvage anything from the more recent demolition of houses along Samuels, Peach, Cummings, and East Bluff . I did take some photos of a number of them before they came down. (Mr. Struhs also had/has photos of them pre-demolition) However, I did run across a fellow who claims to have salvaged many old doors, hardware, and other architectural features (mantels too) from some of these homes. I'm not sure he had permission to do so but if he hadn't taken the stuff someone else probably would have or the bulldozers would have claimed it. You've undoubtedly witnessed the small army of treasure hunters with metal detectors who swarm each demolition site the minute the work is done. One guy I talked to claimed to have found a rare 1800's saloon token he sold to an appreciative Fort Worth collector for more than $1,000. No doubt. some pretty interesting archaeological finds have been made in the course of redevelopment-old local glass bottles probably on the top of the list. I salvaged some stone fragments of an old limestone building that were dumped over the bluff in the 600 block of Samuels long ago. Fragments of ornate plaster work were also collected there. The site was covered over a few years ago when a lot was cleared. It's a shame much of this found history is not being researched by local historians.

I believe I read somewhere that Dee Barker had written up a history of Samuels. In 1992, I took a sabbatical from work to spend 7 months researching the Garvey-Viehl Mansion. In the course of searching, I discovered Baldwin Samuel's Oct. 1879 obituary, an 1850 Todd Co. Kentucky census record showing his occupation at that time as a "gold digger" (confirming his "Forty-Niner" status) and best, a photo of the Garvey house in Charles Swartz's 1901 photo collection booklet, SOUVENIR OF FORT WORTH. (all courtesy of the Fort Worth Pulic Library) With the assistance of the Tarrant Co. Historical Commission, my reaserch was edited and sent to Austin. A registered Texas historical landmark designation was obtained and former Speaker of the House, Jim Wright, officiated at the marker dedication. That time might have been the best opportunity to seek a wider historical designation for Samuels Avenue, but that soon passed

Glad you concur with the apparent future assessment for Samuels Avenue. The proverbial genie of progress is long out of the bottle and I see no going back at this point. As you stated, the neighborhood association (my wife and I were charter members) is now moribund and ineffective. Concensus for neighborhood issues has always been difficult to obtain and is today almost impossible. I've resolved to soon market our property until a sale is concluded. It would be heartening to see our historic home saved in some way but moving it may be the best hope. I know some homes in the redeveloped Trinity Uptown areas were safely relocated but that is an expensive proposition which few seem able to afford.

Last, you mentioned a Sears catalog house? Could you please eleborate? Please feel to contact me off-list if you wish. (I trust contact information is in my membership/profile page) Sorry to be so lengthy, brevity is not really my forte`.

Regards,
John S.


#6 bburton

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Posted 18 March 2008 - 07:26 PM

This thread is another sad commentary for sure. sad.gif Here's one of the few survivors, a real Queen: the Garvey-Viehl House:
(infrared photos)



Bruce Burton
 


#7 BobZupcic

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 03:09 PM

John,

Would you be able to share the photos from the Fishback Saloon?

Thanks for taking the time to write up your recollections. I really enjoyed it.

#8 Papaw

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 08:40 PM

Bruce, Nice pics and I don't remember seeing any IR shots from a Sony Cybershot before. What filter did you use?


#9 John S.

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 08:49 AM

QUOTE (BobZupcic @ Mar 19 2008, 04:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
John,

Would you be able to share the photos from the Fishback Saloon?

Thanks for taking the time to write up your recollections. I really enjoyed it.


Hi Bob,
Thanks for the kind words. I'm aways happy to share stories and information about the old neighborhood which few in our fair City seem to be aware of. (except for the new construction going on here) I'm not sure how to insert images but I'll give it a whirl and see if it works. These are "before" and "after" (small) images of the Fishback. Not much to look at, I admit and some creative imagination is required to see the old saloon there. There was also once a Green Apple saloon in the neighborhood although I haven't a clue where it was located. Of course, the old Pavilion-Race Track run by Papa Gruenewald (sp?) was a favorite watering hole until the aforementioned owner demolished and closed the enterprise in 1907. He used some of the Pavilion materials to construct several small homes on Pavilion street. The robust 6 x 6 chamfered porch columns seen on these houses are the most visible reminders of this long vanished Fort Worth landmark. The Fort Worth Public Library has a good period image of the Pavilion as it was a favorite spot for Confederate veteran reunions and picnics. Notable as well was the infamous Mrs. Brown's house of Pleasure. The elegant double porch galleried structure was located just off Cold Springs (in today's park) before Woods street and a period photo of it appeared in the 1949 Fort Worth Centennial Star-Telegram edition along with a story about its conversion to an orphan's home. Railroad tracks laid through the neighborhood in 1886 destroyed the Race Track and likely led to the closure of Mrs' Brown's establishment. The coming of the Stockyards in 1902 with the stench of thousands of swine and cattle wafting over the neighborhood quickly ended the period of elegance on Samuels Avenue. It's distinctive Victorian style architecture was another negative factor as newer styles replaced the old. By the end of World War I, Samuels Avenue had descended into a long decline which has only been reversed with the new development at Trinity Uptown.

The long period of decline protected some of the historic homes on Samuels from "progress" until recent years but it's proximity to the heart of downtown couldn't be ignored forever. The changes on Samuels are just one component of a wholesale redesign of downtown Fort Worth. Samuels Avenue has always been linked to downtown ever since a horse-drawn trolley brought people from downtown to the neighborhood and ended at the northern boundry by the Pavilion. By a rare turn of fate, evidence of this long vanished street car line survives in front of my home. The ancient sidewalk turns in sharply in front of my home and early on I discovered a long-buried curb about six feet away from the modern curb. There is also evidence of a step-up block for carriages and the trolley. It makes sense that a trolley stop was here because my home is mid-neighborhood. Some of the old limestone curbing and a rare step-up block for the trolley survived on Bluff street until recent development. I can share a photo of that if anyone is interested. Post script: I just tried to post images of the Fishback but couldn't figure out the "URL" requested... any suggestions? Thanks!

John S.

#10 AndyN

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 11:13 AM

Fishback Saloon from JohnS.



And after the wrecking ball:

:
Www.fortwortharchitecture.com

#11 David Love

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 07:19 PM

John S.

Have you considered selling your house and land separately, perhaps the house could be moved just outside the reach of a wrecking ball? Perhaps a resourceful developer with an eye towards preservation and with a little help from the city could integrate a historical section within their planned development(s) and move other structures worthy of saving all together in their own little historical neighborhood.

Probably just wishful thinking on my part.

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#12 John S.

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 08:17 PM


Hi David,

Thanks for asking. As for trying to find a workable solution to saving our historic home, absolutely! Our home has not changed significantly since it was built by German Contractor O.C. Herrenkind in 1889. It was built as a spec house for a City of Fort Worth Auditor and was sold in 1890 to Liquor-Cigar wholesaler Martin Casey who deeded the property to Teresa Reilly, a widow woman and family member. The last descendant of that family to live in the house died in 1988, thus it remained in one family for almost a century. I have a couple of period photos showing the house as it appeared at the turn of the last century so a museum-quality restoration is feasible. Trying to keep everything authentic lead me to select wood shingles for the roof, a decision I now regret. In any event, the house can and should be moved and because it was included in the Tarrant Co. Historic Resources survey, it does fall under the 6 month demolition delay category, which simply means any demolition permit will automatically be delayed for 6 months until alternatives have been explored. The City Code Enforcement Dept. can over-rule this restriction for safety reasons, if it so determines.

We sorely need a small park area (maybe close to the Stockyards?) where a few examples of Victorian era Fort Worth can be saved and preserved for future generations. Houses in our town built prior to 1900 are becoming very rare indeed. There's a sole survivor cottage (either from the 1870's or 1880's) on Grant Street owned by an elderly Hispanic lady which is the only remaining example of Carpenter Gothic in Fort Worth. (the trefoil and quatrefoil symbols carved in the gable braces tie the house to the folk architectural style) As I understand it, once the woman is deceased, the house will be demolished for redevelopment. It would be encouraging to see it moved and restored-Old City Park in Dallas has saved a few early examples from it's 19th century past-I argue that Fort Worth is enlightened enough to do the same. If we can have cattle drives down North Main, can we not have a bit of architecture saved from the Cattle Drive days? Despite popular lore, Fort Worth had fairly sophisticated architectural tastes in the 1800's-few citizens lived in dugouts or in log cabins after the 1850's and especially after the coming of the Railroad in 1876. Weatherford and Belknap Streets were both once lined with Victorian era mansions and fine homes both east and west of the courthouse. Very few traces remain. The Summit Avenue/Quality Hill neighborhood exists now mostly in old photos. Maybe Victorian architecture just doesn't fit the Fort Worth Western Cowboy, macho, "image". Even W.T. Waggoner and Sam Burk Burnett lived here in marble lined mansions that put most city slickers to shame, now these contradictions to their rough cowboy origins are thankfully gone-the rugged cattle barons' myth preserved while their homes weren't.

I appreciate your concern and wish more people here had the same, once this stuff is gone, it's gonna' be gone forever...
John S.

#13 Fort Worthology

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 09:57 PM

QUOTE (John S. @ Mar 21 2008, 09:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
and was sold in 1890 to Liquor-Cigar wholesaler Martin Casey


John,

I don't suppose you found any photos of an old building in the home, did you? smile.gif The Martin Casey Building that once was on Lancaster is one of the mysteries of Fort Worth history. The only image of it that has been discovered is Bror Utter's 1957 watercolor painting of it. I wrote an article about Utter's paintings and the Martin Casey Building was one that I wrote about. Check it out:

http://westandclear....he-amon-carter/



--

Kara B.

 


#14 John S.

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 10:15 AM

John,

I don't suppose you found any photos of an old building in the home, did you? The Martin Casey Building that once was on Lancaster is one of the mysteries of Fort Worth history. The only image of it that has been discovered is Bror Utter's 1957 watercolor painting of it. I wrote an article about Utter's paintings and the Martin Casey Building was one that I wrote about.

Kevin,

Teresa Reilly (who took up residence in our home after Martin Casey, her cousin, bought it for her in 1890) surely had frequent occasions to visit with the Caseys. The Caseys, Reillys, Lehanes, and Fenelons (731 Samuels) were all family related. However, before we bought the old homeplace in the summer of 1989, a complete estate sale had been conducted on the premises. (I've talked to a couple of veteran FW Antiques dealers who attest to some of the fantastic, one-of-a-kind local artifacts) When we bought the property, which by now most of you must have deduced is at 823 Samuels, we found the house totally empty, even the ornate over-mantel in the parlor had been sold. The executrix of the estate managed to locate it and graciously returned it to us as a gift a few years later. The few family photos I copied (also courtesy of the estate executrix) were of Teresa Reilly and her son and grandchildren-two taken in front of the house in the early 1900's. . I was told no other photos were found in the house and a few others (of family members) had been sent out to one surviving neice in California. Since the family was always very frugal and apparently never threw anything away, the fact that more photos weren't found remains something of a mystery. Maybe they went to another family member years ago or some lucky estate sale buyer quietly bought a box full and slipped away-we'll never know. In any event, the long answer to your short question is that no, a photo of the Martin Casey Building has not been found. (I find it almost impossible that there isn't a copy somewhere in someone's dusty collection)

Bror Utter (that was a very nice article you wrote, BTW) seems to have faithfully captured the essence of his subject buildings-makes me wonder if he took any photos of his subjects before he rendered them? Did you notice the architectural detail similarities between the Casey building and the 1899 (Gulf, Colorado, &) Santa Fe Depot building? (both in the Neo-Classical, Beaux Arts style) Coincidence, or connected? I took a look online for information about the Depot and noted that the architect is not known-if someone could find a contemporary newpaper on microfilm citing the construction of the depot, surely it would have mentioned the architect. So much unfinished research...so little free time...(sigh!)

John


#15 redhead

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 02:01 PM

Was the Fishback Saloon Amin's grocery store?
Of the older homes, I believe 27 were moved to other locations.
Also, to the west of River Ranch is one of the Samuels' homes, maybe Mr. Murrin would take another for its neighbor?
And there was a Sears-Roebuck house to be saved, but a vagrant apparently went to sleep in it with a lit cigarette and nearly killed himself in the blaze. The house was destroyed---it was on Bluff Street, where it was thought to be "rolling" distance from the RR tracks.

#16 John S.

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 09:07 AM

QUOTE (redhead @ Mar 27 2008, 03:01 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Was the Fishback Saloon Amin's grocery store?
Of the older homes, I believe 27 were moved to other locations.
Also, to the west of River Ranch is one of the Samuels' homes, maybe Mr. Murrin would take another for its neighbor?
And there was a Sears-Roebuck house to be saved, but a vagrant apparently went to sleep in it with a lit cigarette and nearly killed himself in the blaze. The house was destroyed---it was on Bluff Street, where it was thought to be "rolling" distance from the RR tracks.


In reply:

The former Fishback Saloon was situated one property north of Amin's convenience store, on the southeast corner of Gouhnah and Samuels. That figure, of 27 houses being moved, seems unusually high-I personally witnessed only about a half-dozen or so homes being moved. I seem to recall some regret being expressed that not many folks were taking up Tom Struh's offer to allow moving houses out of the development site.

As for where to move Samuels Avenue neighborhood homes displaced by future redevelopment, that depends on many factors. Personally, I'd be most pleased to see the oldest homes (such as the unique 19th century Carpenter Gothic on Grant St.) relocated to a tourist-friendly architectural setting-the Stockyards complex being the most logical-where some flavor of 1800's Fort Worth perhaps could be recreated. After all, these are among the last Victorian era survivors in our City and when they are gone, they're gone forever.

Some folks around here sadly seem to be so deficient in their knowledge of local history that only the rugged "Pioneer" images of dwelling in log cabins or dugouts together with crude, ramshackle commerical buildings, popularized by Hollywood Westerns, fit their images of what Fort Worth must have looked like before 1900. While such primitive images may have been true in the earliest days of our City, by the time the Railroad arrived in 1876 there were already mansions being built in town. I recall seeing in the aforementioned early 1950's Texas travel guide, (written by a Fort Worth physician) a photo featured of a large brick house in high-style 1850's Gothic Revival mode which, by 1850's standards, would have been considered a mansion. There's even an account by Julia Garrett (don't know if it is true or not) that one of the families in the original Fort complex had a piano laboriously hauled in by wagon. Fort Worth was then, as now, a regional center of culture and refinement. However, also then as today, there co-existed a rougher side. (as has been well documented by Dr. Richard Selcer in his book, Hell's Half Acre)

I'm truly sorry to learn that a Sear's catalog house didn't survive. Vagrants (as well as neglect) have been responsible for the loss of several architecturally interesting homes in the Samuel's Avenue neighborhood. The vacant lot across from my home was formerly the site of the 1870's Morgan Home, Conrad and Hannah Morgan were once being breeders of fine thoroughbred horses. It was torched in the 1970's. This vanished house, along with a number of other architecturally significant neighborhood homes, was featured in the late 1970's Northside architectural survey by the North Fort Worth Historical Society. Very few copies of this rare work survive but if anyone wants to get a feel for how much has already been lost, the photographic evidence can readily be found within its pages. An even rarer 1960's account, titled Wreckin' Texas and written by of all people, a regional demolition contractor, gives some insight into what has been lost in Fort Worth as whole. One cannot evaluate all the available information about the huge losses of significant historic homes and buildings in Fort Worth without concluding that saving our built heritage has been a low priority for many years in our City. Even our nefarious and notoriously "progressive" large neighbor to the east has arguably done a better job in saving remnants of it's past than we have. As Fort Worth moves into the 21st century and is busy architecturally re-inventing itself, one has to wonder what future generations will think of the brave new architectural cityscape we are now building for them. It seems that most of this development is philosophically grounded in the words: "Don't look back!"

John S.
823 Samuels Avenue





#17 djold1

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 12:36 PM

QUOTE
This vanished house, along with a number of other architecturally significant neighborhood homes, was featured in the late 1970's Northside architectural survey by the North Fort Worth Historical Society. Very few copies of this rare work survive but if anyone wants to get a feel for how much has already been lost, the photographic evidence can readily be found within its pages.


This has been and is one of the most interestng of the recent local history threads. Much information that is either new or mostly forgotten has come to light. Many of us who volunteer for the North Fort Worth Historical Society & Stockyards Musuem have been following this thread.

If you take the trek up Samuels Avenue from the flats on the north, the near total destruction of one of the earliest FW neighborhoods is appalling.

To perhaps add a little more information click here here to see a large 11mb PDF file of the complete 35 page 1977 North Worth Worth Architectual/Historical Survey and Adaptive Reuse Studies publication of which the Society was co-author and publisher with several others.

As many of you know,the NFWHS & Stockyards Musuem is the repository for one of the largest collections of Fort Worth, North Fort Worth, Niles City and Tarrant County history. The NFWHS has slowly been expanding its space and cataloging its archives as well as developing its website. In addition, they have been digitally conserving many of their very scarce images and documents. This goes slowly due to lack of volunteer help as well as a chronic lack of funds. This situation is changing slowly and the pace of conservation is increasing. More and more documents and images, including this one, will begin appearing on the website in the near future.

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Website: Antique Maps of Texas
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#18 John S.

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 01:09 PM


Pete,

"To perhaps add a little more information click here here to see a large 11mb PDF file of the complete 35 page 1977 North Worth Worth Architectual/Historical Survey and Adaptive Reuse Studies publication of which the Society was co-author and publisher with several others. "

Words can hardly express my sincere appreciation for providing an online source for this almost forgotten survey from 1977. As the images show, many of these homes and structures are now lost forever. I last saw a copy of this rare survey when Brenda Kelley (of 769 Samuels, the Garvey-Viehl House) was still alive but doubtful either of her sons could find it today. Half or more of these neighborhood historic homes have disappeared in the past 31 years. Talks with some of the long-time neighbors (some who have since passed away) have turned up stories of other lost landmarks, some showing up in Sanborn Fire maps of Samuels Avenue from 1911 (?) kept on microfilm by the Tarrant Co. Historical Commission.

As you have concentrated your interest in specific areas , I too have narrowed my focus on Fort Worth history to the Samuels Avenue neighborhood. In my years of looking for information on the neighborhood, I have turned up some tantalizing leads on treasure troves of Samuels Avenue and Fort Worth history. While I was conducting voluntary research on the Garvey-Viehl-(Kelley) House at 769 Samuels, several Fort Worth history "holy grails" provided elusive clues to their existence but a lack of resources and time prevented me from embarking on a more extensive history detective hunt. Should someone here have the time and resources, here's a few leads I wished I had found the time to follow:

A. Newspaper photos of Baldwin Samuel, Mrs. Brown's House of Pleasure, and stories about the Cold Springs and Samuels Avenue appeared in the Centennial edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The question to be answered is where did these photos come from? Some member(s) of Baldwin L. Samuel's family must have still been living in 1949 to have provided a photo of this historical figure-what happened to the files/photos/notes the newspaper used for this story? Were they discarded, burned, were taken home by the authors? That sole faded photo of Baldwin Samuels from the newspaper article has been photo-copied over and over a zillion times and most have been heavily retouched. How nice it would be to discover the original source photo and one has to wonder how many other priceless historic photos existed with that one of Baldwin Samuel?

B. Texas Guidebook by Fort Worth physician Rex Z. Howard (can't locate my copy right now! angry.gif ) came out originally in 1948 I believe and went through several editions. The "holy grail" here is what happened to Doctor Howard's photo and file collection? Lo-Ray Publishing in Grand Prarie printed the book. Dr. Howard has photos of Fort Worth landmarks that disappeared in the early 1950's. On a side note, I'd like to scan and digitize the Fort Worth travel section from my volume-if I can ever find it-to share with others provided it would not violate copyright laws. Dr. Howard was an early proponent of saving Fort Worth history-he uged readers to hurry downtown to visit some of the old landmarks before the wrecking ball beat them to it! If one could find the original photos from Dr. Howard's collection, what a find that would be!

C. In interviewing several individuals during my reasearch, I contacted Mrs. David Nash. (a direct descendant of several pioneer Fort Worth families) She related to me that she used to bring photos to share with Charles E. Nash elementary school students for a history lesson from an old family trunk. She said many of the photos found therein showed Samuels Avenue in the 1800's and she had some early letters from one of her forebearers: Capt. John Hannah. (of early Fort Worth law-firm Hannah & Hogsett fame) Assuming her recollection was accurate, this too would be a very valuable resource. However, at the time I contacted her, Mrs. Nash had experienced some issues with people on Samuels Avenue and was not sympathetic to help further the research. Of course, anything privately owned by a family has to be approached very tactfully and respectfully, which I always followed.


D. There were other sources, these even more elusive-such as the woman who inherited the William B. Garvey's household goods (769 Samuels) and lived on Washington St. on the southside until the 1940's and owned a local business, according to City Directories. Are any of her descendants still living? If so, would they miraculously still have some Garvey family photos or possessions? (the Garvey's had no children-Lula Gravey was Baldwin Samuel's grandaughter) Baldwin Samuel remarried after the death of his first wife and his second wife was the widow of a county official. I have reason to believe some decendants lived in Fort Worth for many decades after Baldwin Samuel's death in 1879. Maybe they were the source of the newspaper photo in 1949? Could any of them still be around today? Then there is the untold dramatic story of Felix Mullikin, the original homesteader of Samuels Avenue. After his death, his widow allegedly sold his 460 acre land patent and the "sale" was likely a forgery. His descendants fought a losing legal battle for years to try and reclaim their Father's land. In 1891, after years of litigation and after being possibly driven off at gunpoint by other-wise genial David Chapman Bennett (a local gentleman banker) at 731 Samuels, the courts declared the statute of limitations had expired and they were forever out of luck. Someone with the time to dig up all the old court records could learn a whole lot about early Samuels Avenue and Fort Worth history as a whole. If the bits and pieces of evidence I ran across could be fleshed out, their struggles to reclaim their late Fahter's land would make a heck of a Western movie. Felix Mullikin and his wife were members of the Peter's Colony and charter members of Lonesome Dove Baptist Church, the earliest congregation in Tarrant county. With his family connection to pioneer Archibald Leonard, and dealings with Col. Middleton Tate Johnson, Mullikin (also spelled variously as Mulliken) might have played a part in the original siting of the Fort. Some now debris and trash-filled Springs at Trader's Oak Park (they used to be called Terry Springs after Nathaniel Terry) were part of Mullikin's land. The important early history of this site is fairly well documented.

Last, does anyone here remember Mack H. William's weekly newpaper article, In Old Fort Worth ? What happened to Mack's files and photo collection? He had quite a lot of stuff. Not all of his articles were well researched and documented but much of what he uncovered was unique. I understand a book of his articles was published but personally have not seen a copy.

So, in summary, there's a lot of undiscovered stuff on Samuel's Avenue and Fort Worth history still "out there". I sincerely understand and sympathize with your comments about a lack of funding and staff for the Stockyards Museum. It seems ironic that hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, can be spent for iconic Cowboy and Cattle statues and associated Western art, yet sustained funding to research and document the fabled Western History of Fort Worth for the benefit of local citizens and visitors seems impossible. There are cultural institutions in this City that have repositories of local history and artifacts but they are accessible primarily for academic scholars. These institutional collections are not freely available either-I was told by one scholar that the use of one photo from a certain collection in any publication would cost $1,000 and this was several years ago. Local history books cater to a small, esoteric group of fans-few researchers can afford the expenses to included fee-based material in their publications. Only the Fort Worth Public Library has done an exemplary job of making local historic resources available to the public. That is why I freely donated my manuscript of research to the Fort Worth Public Library. Special thanks again, Pete, for making the 1977 Northside-Samuels Architectural survey available online.

Regards,
John S.
823 Samuels Avenue



#19 Dismuke

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 02:28 PM

I think a good potential location for such a historical park would be Delga Park which is located very near the Samuels area. Take Samuels to Cold Springs and then turn right on Delga. Eventually, you will hit the park. I have only been there on a couple of occasions and if I recall correctly the road is in pretty rough shape. I discovered the area after seeing it on a vintage map as having once been a garbage dump decades ago. I guess the city continued to own the land and eventually converted it to a park. Right now is a rather pathetic park - just an empty field with almost no amenities. The site, however, does overlook the river right near where I-35 crosses it. If a historical park were to be located there, I suspect it would be VERY visible to motorists entering the downtown area from the north which would raise its viability. If one ended up getting a big enough collection of vintage houses and buildings in one place, it could perhaps even generate a bit of revenue with select structures being operated as bed and breakfasts.
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#20 John S.

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 10:25 AM


In reply to your suggestion,

I think the City would object to a local park (Delga) being converted for such use. Looking at this logically, the Stockyards area, which draws tens of thousands of visitors and locals, would be a better choice. The only question would be whether a private investor(s) would be willing to fund such a project and is there an appropriate site located in or near the Stockyards complex? If one could find such a place, it would ideally have visibility from the Tarantula Train (is it still running?) as well as the Stockyard "Cattle Drives", then you would really have a microcosm of 19th Century Fort Worth history-i.e., as if a time machine had picked up the most historically significant early Fort Worth talismans and placed them together with an authentic collection of historic Fort Worth architecture. Nothing tells a story better about a place and time than having the tangible reminders surrounding you. Local scholars and preservation-friendly architects could insure the authenticity of the recreation and then Fort Worth would have another great tourist draw and interperative history venue to offer. The only problem I see is in finding enough suitable structures remaining to create such a place. (Dallas got a big head start with Old City Park) The Midwest is full of small dying towns with crumbling historic homes and commercial buildings-this might be a potential source. Truth be told, even some isolated small burgs in East Texas have threatened historical buildings that would be a close facsimile to Fort Worth originals. The biggest problem with such a project would be finding enough funding to make it happen. It's rather funny that hundreds of millions of dollars can easily be found to create a faux town lake and an uptown "urban village", yet preserving what little remains of the early history of our City seems to be of little interest. As I said previously, the prevailing philosophy in the City seems to be found in the words, "Don't look back".

That's frankly why I'm eager to move on to another community which respects it's built heritage and still has enough remaining to make it worthwhile. Cincinnati, Ohio, and several other upper Midwestern towns and cities are on the short list. I'll miss Fort Worth and the unique history here but not the people who cared so little about it. Maybe if I were into cutting-edge, modern architecture this would be a happy time and place.

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#21 Dismuke

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 01:09 PM

I agree that the Stockyards would be ideal for it. I should have made myself more clear about my premise that acquiring land in the Stockyards area might be difficult because of its cost whereas it might not be as difficult to make a go of it with an isolated and neglected park that most people in Fort Worth are probably not even aware of.

Keep in mind that when Old City Park in Dallas was first established its location was considered highly undesirable. The neighborhood, known as The Cedars and once home to the city's finest homes and wealthiest people, had been in decline for decades. Much of it had been converted to industrial use. The remainder consisted of abandoned lots, a small handful of crumbling historic homes and apartment complexes which were very high crime. It was not a safe neighborhood to be in. In the middle of it sat Dallas' most historic park - one of the area's very few examples of a 19th century park. The dwindling number of decent and law abiding people who still lived in the neighborhood certainly would not feel comfortable walking about or letting their children roam around. Those who worked in or patronized the industrial buildings were commuters and had little use for the park - and those were pretty much the only people from other parts of the city who had any reason to deliberately go to the area. Whoever came up with the idea of using it for a historical park was brilliant - a way to preserve a historic park that no longer served much purpose and a reason for people from other parts of the city and region to visit it.

Last time I went there a few years ago, The Cedars was still in pretty rough condition - but it was not as scary looking as it once was due to apartments/crack houses having been demolished and some of the old commercial buildings being converted to lofts. Hopefully it has continued to improve since then. My guess as downtown Dallas finally starts to turn around, the area has a promising future.

Delga Park, in terms of its proximity to areas which are growing and in terms of the safety of its surrounding neighborhoods is much better situated then Old City Park was when it was first proposed. No, it does not have the built in draw of the Stockyards. But as Old City Park demonstrates, such a park can still be successful in an out of the way location. Properly promoted, the park itself can become a draw. On a project such as this - sure a location with an existing tourist draw would be wonderful. But is it worth delaying such a project to hold out for it? My thought is to take what one can get as quickly as possible so that there is a place for such buildings to go to sooner rather than later. So my first impulse on such a thing is not to ask where the best place for such a park would be. That is always going to be expensive. My first impulse is to ask: where is there a place that is already terribly underused and already crying out for some sort of other use? I wouldn't be surprised if there were several such places among city's existing park and land holdings.

I am curious why you think the city would object to Delga Park being converted to such use assuming that sufficient funding could be found. On the couple of occasions I visited it, I saw precious little evidence that the city even cares about the park beyond keeping the grass cut. The only valid reason I can think of to object is if the conversion would be a significant loss for the surrounding neighborhood. I have no way of knowing how much the people in the area use it - but according to google maps, the surrounding residential neighborhood only consists of less than 10 square blocks.

If you look at Fort Worth on google maps, there are LOTS of green shaded areas which represent parks - and some of them are quite large. If Delga isn't a good choice - well, there are lots of others. It just strikes me as not being all that difficult for the city to set aside some existing park land and maintain the grass, trees and plants like they already have to and have an arrangement with some sort of non-profit historical society which would be responsible for acquiring, operating and maintaining the buildings.

Bottom line is, wherever such a park would be located, I think it is a good idea and I don't see why it couldn't be viable. Obviously it is nicer when historic buildings can be preserved in their existing settings. But when that is simply not viable - well, a park is a much better alternative to them being destroyed. As you mentioned, once they are gone, they are gone forever. Once enough critical mass has been established, there is no reason why it would not be able generate at least a certain percentage of operating revenue by things such as bed and breakfasts, rentals for weddings and film productions, etc. I have no idea how to get the ball rolling on such a project or who all it would need to be pitched to for support. Good ideas are a dime a dozen - bringing them to life is what requires time, effort and know-how. Perhaps this thread might plant an idea in someone's head.
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#22 John S.

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 03:05 PM





"Perhaps this thread might plant an idea in someone's head. "

Perhaps it will happen as you say, but as you also wisely added, there's much talk and little action in Fort Worth for projects of this type. The idea of creating a historic district on Samuels was openly proposed with the original Central Business District Historic Resources survey (back in 1981?) but it never caught on largely because the kind of people (investors, "urban pioneers" "artsy" types) who might have supported such a designation never actually bought into the concept and became our neighbors. Back in 1991, Mary Rodgers of the Star-Telegram interviewed me and got the same passionate input I'm sharing here, but nothing ever came of it. Only after Mr. Struhs recognized the untapped value of the land along the Bluff and followed his good instincts with substantial investment did others suddenly share in that epiphany. Now, almost postscript, Trinity Bluffs Uptown is destined to become one of Fort Worth's most prestigious addresses. It's almost an irony that the neighborhood carried that same upscale distinction early in Fort Worth's history. What's the old saying? History always repeats itself?

Could the current neighborhood gentrification have happened without the massive new development? Doubtful. When we bought the old Reilly-Lehane home in 1989 only the Kelleys at 769 Samuels were openly calling themselves urban pioneers. Properties here, when they occasionally came up for sale, were priced far less than comparable homes in better neighborhoods. It took a developer with far-sighted vision for people to finally wake up to the value this neighborhood has to downtown living. With the Town Lake project (likely) becoming a reality, this neighborhood will truly become an exciting destination to live in for the future-that is, unless you love historic homes and cherish the old gritty pastoral surroundings of the past brought on by neglect. Already there are apparent benefits: a repaving and re-routing of Samuels Avenue with on-going infrastructural improvements almost a daily occurence. When the brilliant fireworks go off at Graves Field, I merely have to step out my back door to have a ringside seat. A multi-story condo on my property would be able to literally watch the game below across the Trinity. But that thrill and all the others to come will be part of someone else's future.

Delga Park, as you said, is under-utilitzed. However, because it is remote and disconnected geographically from any current popular draw, building a Northside version of a historic frontier village there would be an uphill battle and some Northside Latino neighbors might find valid reasons to argue for it to remain as it is. Making an argument that the park is a parallel situation to Old City Park in Dallas has some merits, but Fort Worth ain't Dallas. (even if it tries hard to be sometimes) I still feel geographically tying these historic houses to the Stockyards complex makes the most economic, revenue-generating, sense.

While you and I freely debate the merits of such a project, I have no intention of waiting for it to happen. So yes, these are merely words which are shared with the small group of enthusiasts who frequent these obscure pages in Cyberspace. One cannot easily stop "progress" and the inevitability of change can't be ignored-all I seek is for others to recognize what has already been lost and help find a creative way to accomodate the changes happening in the Samuels Avenue area. Even the most passionate preservationist could not gather enough support today to block progress here and the changes are beneficial for the downtown's future. The best alternative now is in seeking a place to relocate those historic resources deemed worthy of that effort . Many thanks for your input and I hope others will weigh in with their thoughts and opinions in the days to come. I noticed this thread has been given "hot" topic status so while this discussion is "hot" and deals with the very birthplace of our City, getting input from all sides would be welcomed. In matters of local history and preservation, it doesn't get any more important to Fort Worth's heritage than Samuels Avenue-Fort Worth was born here.

John S.




#23 Dismuke

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 06:43 PM

John S -

I don't fully share your low opinion of Fort Worth's appreciation of its history. Then again, I most likely come to the issue with a vastly different perspective than yours. Sounds like you have been on the front lines and have endured a lot of frustration and disappointments along the way. So I do understand where you are coming from and I do NOT intend for my posting to be criticism of or a rebuttal of what you just said. If I had been through what you have, I probably would feel the same way.

I do, however, think one must give credit where it is due: Fort Worth is the city that went ballistic when plans for the widening of the I-30 overpass in downtown called for the elimination of the post office and the T&P freight depot. It is the city that fought for an alternative arrangement - an arrangement that enabled the freeway to have its desperately needed upgrade and, at the same time, correct a huge mistake that was made in the 1950s and make that part of downtown viable once again.

Fort Worth is also the city that showed the way for others by bringing its dying downtown back to life by means of fixing up its old buildings. Make no mistake about it - it was the charm of the old buildings, something which was utterly absent from the ugly monstrosities being built at the time, that made downtown Fort Worth an attractive draw in the early days of Sundance Square. It would not have been successful had the Bass family put up the sort of stuff proposed back during the idiotic "Now Town" phase Fort Worth went through.

The primary reason I fell for Fort Worth when I first discovered it and have lived here since is because of its wealth of nice old buildings and the charm and atmosphere they give the city. Without such buildings, Fort Worth would be nothing more than another Arlington. Nothing wrong with Arlington - it serves its purpose. But it is like a styrofoam cup - it serves a productive purpose but, beyond that, there is nothing charming or special about one.

In a way, we are fortunate in that, for whatever reason, Fort Worth seemed to stagnate compared with Dallas during the very worst years of the 1950s - 1970s when architecture became increasingly horrible and there existed and outright hostility towards anything that was regarded as "old." For that reason, a lot survived which would have been destroyed had it been in a similar location in Dallas. Not that shameful things did not happen here - the razing of Hell's Half Acre for a huge and butt ugly convention center being the worst example, at least in terms of scale.

What is happening now is old buildings are endangered because Fort Worth is doing so well economically. It is understandable why small historic structures are under pressure in hot, high dollar and booming parts of town. But this is not anything that is unique to Fort Worth.

If one goes to the other extreme one will find that in areas that not do well economically, buildings are often endangered by lack of funds to keep them viable. If Fort Worth continued to stagnate - well, I guarantee you that historic skyscrapers in downtown such as the Blackstone, which had been empty for decades, would still be sitting there quietly crumbling. It is expensive to bring such a building back to life - there has to be an economy to support it. One needs to have a vibrant economy in order to prevent such buildings from crumbling past the point of salvation. On the other hand, that same vibrancy puts the land such buildings sit on under redevelopment pressure.

You talk about cities in the upper midwest. Yes, they have a LOT of beautiful old buildings. But the economies of many cities in that part of the country are often stagnant at best. Detroit has the third largest collection of pre-World War II skyscrapers in the USA - and most of them are now ruins. They are, finally, starting to fix up the Book-Cadillac and the Pick Fort Shelby hotels - but the economy of that region is starting to go downward again. I suspect that both buildings are fortunate in that the preservation was finalized while the window of opportunity was still open. Most of those states are suffering from a "brain drain" - i.e., young, educated people leave the area for good once they graduate from college because of the lack of economic opportunities.

This "brain drain" has become a particularly bad problem for upstate New York where the flight of the best and brightest rivals that of cultural and economic backwaters such as Mississippi despite the fact that upstate New York has charming big cities and lots of cultural and educational amenities. The problem is that it any company doing business there is regarded as a milch cow by state and local governments and the unions. Why would a business owner who has the option to locate anywhere wish to do business in such a place? So cities that were once very prosperous and which are still very charming just stagnate and slowly rot. And as the buildings deteriorate, there becomes pressure to remove the alleged "eyesores." People would rather look at an empty parking lot than the constant decaying reminder of the economic greatness that has been lost.

My point is that there is going to be a lot of frustration for those interested in preserving and saving old buildings pretty much anywhere. It is not just a Fort Worth problem. Los Angeles allowed the local school district to destroy the old Ambassador Hotel - which was not only a 1930s cultural icon but highly historic as the assassination site of RFK. The REIT that owns New York's Hotel Pennsylvania wants to tear it down for an undoubtedly sterile and bland office tower - and the local historical society, of all organizations, basically yawned and said it is just an old building and not a big deal. They claimed that it significance was merely cultural and not architectural.

As for Fort Worth being all talk and little action regarding its history and historic structures - well the fact that there is talk is an indication that there is interest. What is needed is the right kind of leadership to turn that talk into action - which is something that is MUCH easier said than done and in no way should be taken as any sort of criticism of those who have and are attempting to provide such leadership. Such leadership requires a very rare and special type of person. It requires that someone have the time and energy to devote themselves to such a cause - and that alone is hard to find. But it requires more than that - it requires being able to motivate and inspire others to join in the effort towards a specific vision and to do so over the long term despite the challenges and setbacks. It requires someone with the ability to win over and convert people who previously never gave any thought to old buildings. Not everybody has that skill - and of those who do, not everyone has the time that is needed. People like that are always rare.

I don't care what part of the country you go to, anyplace where there has been a successful organized effort along the lines of what you are talking about, there are going to be a very small number of individuals - and sometimes only a single individual - without whom none of it would have been possible. It is not enough to WANT something to happen, no matter how passionately. And it is not merely a matter of not having enough people who are willing to work hard and spend time on such efforts - my guess is there have been plenty of such people over the years here in Fort Worth.

It also requires leadership in terms of the credibility of what one wishes to accomplish. In this thread, you named a number of structures that are FAR more worthy of keeping around than the old 7th Street Theatre. When the theatre was razed, there was all sorts of outcry. How many people even knew the buildings in Samuel even existed let alone were endangered? No offense to anyone who was passionate about the threatre - but it wasn't that old and was probably the least significant of the old neighborhood theatres that still exist, most of them abandoned. The only thing even halfway interesting about the building itself was its sign. All I could think when I heard the outcry was "please, people, pick your battles wisely."

But like I said, ideas are a dime a dozen. I could rattle good ideas off all day long and so can many others here as well, I'm sure. The time I have to actually DO anything about them is limited - and much of that is already taken up by my personal little crusade to reintroduce the world to the forgotten music of the 1920s and 1930s. Those who actually ARE putting in an effort, regardless of how successful the end up being are doing far more than I am so I certainly am NOT trying to criticize them. My only point is that I think an effort to generate more interest in the city's history CAN be successful here in Fort Worth - it is just a matter of finding the rare and special person/people needed to get the ball rolling.





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#24 John T Roberts

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:30 PM

Dismuke, I agree with you in that there is talk in the city about historic preservation, but I also have to agree with John S., in that there is very little action on the part of the City of Fort Worth when it comes to preservation.

#25 AndyN

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 08:30 PM

Hey, when we get this old city park up and running, don't forget I've got a 1920 Fort Worth streetcar needing a home.

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#26 Dismuke

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 09:42 PM

QUOTE (John T Roberts @ Mar 30 2008, 09:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Dismuke, I agree with you in that there is talk in the city about historic preservation, but I also have to agree with John S., in that there is very little action on the part of the City of Fort Worth when it comes to preservation.



I think perhaps part of the problem is waiting for the City of Fort Worth to do something. There is only so much that the city can - and should - do. Most of the properties in need of preservation are owned by private individuals - and stepping on their right use and maximize the value of their own hard-earned property is a pretty drastic step. For the vast majority of the population, historic preservation is not exactly at the top of their priorities. Do we want to live in a place where a relatively small minority is able to impose their values and preferences on what other people may do with their property? I suspect that most people do not - and that is going to make efforts of even those city officials who actually are concerned about the plight of old buildings difficult. I for one am VERY passionate about old buildings - but that does not give me any grounds for imposing my passions on everyone else.

For the City to take the initiative in terms of "doing something" basically turns it into a political battle. Those battles are very difficult to wage - and there are always going to be people like me who are passionate about preservation but are equally passionate about individual rights who will end up not joining in.

Waiting for the City to take initiative - well, that is going to be a long wait and will have to compete with other constituencies such as the better parks/roads/sewers/libraries/etc crowds who also want the city to "do something."

I would think that it would be more effective for the initiative to originate elsewhere and then bring in the city in afterwards in areas it can be of help that are not as politically controversial. The historical park I think is a good example. Some organization takes initiative in terms of putting the project together but asks the city to help by donating currently underutilized park space. All the City has to do is sign off on it. Something like that, I would think, would be a no-brainer for City officials.

Another possibility would be for someone to start a non-profit organization which would effectively be a historical redevelopment organization and compete with private developers for the opportunity to acquire/redevelop historically significant properties. This would, of course, take a certain amount of "seed" money and someone would have to raise it through contributions. But think of what could be possible. For example, some years ago, those properties in the Samuel neighborhood could have been purchased for next to nothing. Imagine if a historical organization went in to a neighborhood like that and purchased the most significant of them. They could then deed restrict the properties and sell them to someone else for redevelopment. Or the organization itself could redevelop them and sell them, hopefully for a profit, with the appropriate deed restrictions, of course. If the timing is not right for redevelopment, they could do with the property what any other private owner would likely do: rent it out in its current condition to generate cash flow until the timing is better. It would be hard to do that with Samuels today. But there are other neighborhoods out there with historically significant structures which can still be acquired at a reasonable cost. And the organization could also bid on vintage houses for sale in places such as Arlington Heights for immediate resale with deed restrictions which forbid tearing them down for McMansions.

There, too, the city could be of assistance. For example, it could perhaps exempt properties owned by the organization from all taxes while they are in the organization's possession. That would make owning and holding such properties for later redevelopment more viable. The city could also perhaps offer some very attractive tax incentives to property owners who voluntarily agree to place such deed restrictions on their property.

In both cases, the initiative comes from someplace other than the city. One only approaches the city once one has a plan in place and then merely asks for assistance in meaningful ways that will probably not be all that politically controversial. The best bet is to make one's plans assuming from the start that the City will be either indifferent or perhaps even mildly hostile - and if things turn out otherwise, all the better. Again, both of these examples are much easier said than done. I bring them up only as examples of projects that could be started without waiting for someone in the City to show initiative and which could still go forward by other means even if the City decided not to help at all.


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#27 John S.

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 10:15 AM


"Fort Worth is also the city that showed the way for others by bringing its dying downtown back to life by means of fixing up its old buildings. Make no mistake about it - it was the charm of the old buildings, something which was utterly absent from the ugly monstrosities being built at the time, that made downtown Fort Worth an attractive draw in the early days of Sundance Square. It would not have been successful had the Bass family put up the sort of stuff proposed back during the idiotic "Now Town" phase Fort Worth went through. "

Dismuke, (hope you do not mind me using that name)

Your reply made some very good points and perhaps I am guilty of judging preservation efforts within the City too harshly. We do have some nice historic Districts and many RTHL sites throughout the City. You do however identify the key ingredient in most successful local preservation efforts: money. While it is true that the Bass family almost single-handedly saved Sundance Square (and were instrumental in Freeway relocation efforts) it is equally true that their investments were based on sound business principles-i.e., making a nice profit. They also employed "facade-ism" in many of their rehabbed buildings. This is the architectural practice of saving the front facade of a building and then completely scooping out the insides to build a new structure within. Such practices barely merit preservation praise. Many other unsung heros have saved significant historic structures within the City and they too deserve our collective praise. One thing's for sure, people in Fort Worth are very passionate about their city, a noble trait handed down from the earliest settlement days.

That said, I also agree with you that urban historic preservation is an uphill battle in many cities. Teardowns for McMansion replacement is rampant in many wealthy enclaves from Beverly Hills, CA to Highland Park, Texas. Progress in the form of new development is money-driven. This often trumps historic preservation sentiments. As Preservation Economist Don Rypkema has often pointed out, historic preservation often carries a nice economic payoff but popular wisdom seems to hold that new is always better than old.

I suppose when it is all said and done it boils down to how one looks at the situation. The old adage about the glass half full or half empty can be applied to historic preservation. One can either focus on what's lost and gone or focus on what has been saved and preserved. While I regret the many losses, I also sincerely appreciate the many preservation successes in our City. How many others would ever consider saving something as mundane as a Stockyard? Not only was it saved but it has morphed into a City icon and is one of our biggest tourist draws. St. Joseph, Missouri once had a Stockyards complex (also Armour & Swift) which was perhaps more impressive than ours, but it has all but disappeared in recent years.

One can only speculate if Hell's Half-Acre would have been as successful given that it is unfortunately gone. Of course, when your own home is being impacted and your own neighborhood is being transformed, it's hard to be truly objective. Yesterday I placed a for sale sign in my front yard and proclaim that as voting with my feet. No harsh sentiments, I just happen to prefer old, funky, and gritty to new, trendy, and posh. Glad to see a serious discussion evolving from this message thread. Thanks again to John Roberts for providing this great local discussion forum. I feel it is far more meaningful and effective in opinion shaping than merely being a place to air gripes or criticism.

John S.
823 Samuels



#28 redhead

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 09:08 PM

John S---I have very mixed emotions...there were properties along Samuels that I thought should be saved. Take the Poole house for example---when the elderly relative who lived there died, the relatives immediately contracted to sell the house to Tom Struhs. With an uproar from the historical community, Struhs agreed to assign the contract to them at his cost. However,demolition by decay began the year after the house was built...the entry had been exposed to the elements for at least fifty years...the front door had fallen off and you looked at sky upon entry. Estimates for restoration exceeded half a million...no one had that kind of money, nor any prospect of finding it...regrettably, it met the wrecking ball.

Many of the others, far less significant have met similar fates. Struhs himself paid for Rypkema to do an analysis of "significant" structures, and there were few that Mr. R deemed worth saving. The opposite argument is what is the city better with: the new impact to the tax roles or the old structrues which technically don't suppport the cost for city services? In the city's mind, old Samuels had a high crime rate, and the cost to service each residence (averaged) say, 1,000/year, but the taxes were only $200, well, you can understand how it appears from the city's perspective.

Balance is difficult...our problem is not different from anyone else's. Consider Kannapolis, NC---original Cannon Town (yep, the towels and sheets.) They saved about five house in the original Cannon Town as a reminder---bu the rest is long gone. Ibid for Baltimore's inner harbor, Boston's harbor area, etc...

#29 John S.

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 08:44 AM

"Many of the others, far less significant have met similar fates. Struhs himself paid for Rypkema to do an analysis of "significant" structures, and there were few that Mr. R deemed worth saving. The opposite argument is what is the city better with: the new impact to the tax roles or the old structrues which technically don't suppport the cost for city services? In the city's mind, old Samuels had a high crime rate, and the cost to service each residence (averaged) say, 1,000/year, but the taxes were only $200, well, you can understand how it appears from the city's perspective.
Balance is difficult...our problem is not different from anyone else's. "



Many thanks for your input. The aforementioned, 761 Samuels, C. 1882 Italianate style Foster-Hodgson-Poole House story truly was a tragedy. By the time Mr. Poole passed away (at age 57) his home had deteriored to the point that it was unsavable. Mr. Poole was fiecely proud and independent, steadfastly refusing offers from neighbors to help repair his house. It was a classic case of demolition by neglect. I disagree however that there was nothing salvagable on the house. Some "friends" of the late owner had removed the curving walnut balustrade and newel post from the stairway and hauled off the ornate wrought iron fence and gate that had been removed from the front of the property and deposited behind the house. Anyhow, the house is now long-gone (I took many photos on the day of its demolition) so may it and the former owners now rest in peace.

The original owners, Isaac and Mary Cornelia Foster, were central figures in the original neighborhood. Mary Cornelia Samuel-Foster was the daughter of Baldwin Samuel and relocated to Fort Worth from Kentucky after her Father passed away in Oct. 1879. In the 1890 City Directory, former Kentucky farmer Isaac Foster was listed as a "capitalist". The fancy wall which was topped with iron fencing fronted the Foster property and extended north to the Garvey-Veihl house property. (Mrs. Garvey was the Foster's daughter) It had matching ornamental iron topping and a massive limestone block retaining wall. A few fragments of this impressive wall survive on the former Poole House site and the surviving retaining wall fronting the Garvey-Veihl house (769 Samuels) is currently in poor condition and susceptible to collapse.

As for Don Rypkema's visit, I sat in on one session and did not learn he had performed a "tri-age" of those neighborhood historic dwellings worth saving and those which were not. If he did, his outsider opinions seems rather redundant and without the authority to supercede our own Central Business District Historic Resources Survey, which had carefully researched, examined, and documented extant resources and had made suggestions about establishing local and National Register historic districts. My understanding of Rypkema's mission was to advocate the economic benefits of historic preservation to Mr. Struhs and to help save what could be saved. A fair number of houses identified as architecturally/historically significant in the Tarrant County Resources Survey were demolished, not to mention the loss of entire proposed historic distircts such as the East First Street Historic Distirct (now Hillside Apartments) and the Mark Evans Historic District on E. Bluff Street. (now site of the Pallisades condominiums)

As for your evaluation of the old Samuels Avenue's tax revenue vs. costs and importance to the City, that's a valid argument. On the other hand, a TIF district was established in the developed area which was a significant bonus gift from the City to the developer. (not to mention the recent Barnett Shale windfall) The most important thing now to consider : What is the highest and best use of this pictureque strip of land along the bluff above the Trinity River which the early settlers and founders of our City loved? It is (and always has been) a beautiful residential oasis closely linked to our busy downtown. I'm not trying to find fault with the developer(s) or the City-the changes happening here are economic-driven and were almost pre-destined bacause of the neighborhood's location. In the early 1990's the neighborhood was threatened by a highway project that thankfully never happened.

Therefore, the only issue I see still outstanding is how to integrate the new and future development with the surviving remnants of the neighborhood. Given the apparent development value of the land and the logical extension of future development to the end of the bluff (Traders's Oak Park) now is the time to figure out how to balance the old with the new. If all old remnants must go, the best examples should be saved somehow. Having an historic old house juxtaposed against a modern high-rise is visually and aesthetically incongruous. Folks on Summit Avenue belatedly learned that lesson. As you so relevantly say: "balance is difficult". Thanks again for your valuable views.
John S.
823 Samuels Ave.


#30 John S.

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 09:21 AM

Samuels Avenue development in local news...

Fox 4 newsclip from March 26 talks about the history of the street but omits any reference to remaining historic homes:

http://www.villadele...NDA41507_02.wmv

Villa De Leon is but one of several proposed towers to be built in the same area. The new development is sure to be featured again by the local media in coming weeks and months. Surprisingly, there was no fanfare or ground-breaking celebration for the new project. Let's hope construction activity on the project does not stall as has happened with some new projects in Dallas in recent weeks. I understand 6 units were pre-sold, so does anyone know what is the status of the other 17?

John S.

#31 Fort Worthology

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 09:23 AM

I seriously doubt VDL is going to stall. Not to mention Lincoln is about to start construction on several hundred more apartments and townhome apartments.

--

Kara B.

 


#32 John S.

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 11:32 AM

QUOTE (Atomic Glee @ Apr 15 2008, 10:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I seriously doubt VDL is going to stall. Not to mention Lincoln is about to start construction on several hundred more apartments and townhome apartments.



Hi Kevin,

Really? Is our downtown housing market THAT healthy right now? Downtown dwellers can surely chortle with joy as gasoline prices quickly head for the $4 a gallon mark and beyond. I truly feel for those disadvantaged folks with a giant SUV parked next to their McMansion in the sprawling distant hinterlands. Not only is the long commute a hassle but it will cost a small fortune for long commutes into town. While Fort Worth's sprawl is nothing to be proud about, Dallas 'burbs now stretch almost to Oklahoma. We are now witnessing the emergence of the back-to-the-city movement. Cities also have the major asset of public mass transportation. When gas reaches 5 bucks a gallon probably everyone will be taking the bus, train, bicycle, or horse. I think convincing folks to move way out in the fringe suburbs will be a pretty hard sell in the near future. It's about time...

As for Lincoln properties and their hundreds of coming apartment and townhomes, how soon is "about to start"? Personally, I hope construction on Samuels continues uninterrupted as I now have a for sale sign out by the curb. Don't worry, if I sell, I won't be headed for the 'burbs, just to new inner-city digs. Hopefully that move includes finding another historic home. I'll truly miss the old Samuels Avenue 'Hood.
John S.

#33 redhead

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 02:38 PM

"a TIF district was established in the developed area which was a significant bonus gift from the City to the developer"

Really?? How does that work? The difference in the base taxes and the new taxes (i.e. the increment)---go to the TIF board to manage. Some TIF allocations may be re-invested in the area as it relates to new streets or infrastructure, but the real winner is not the developer, but the area itself where the money will be re-invested. In the case of Trinity Bluff, the lower portion has made huge contributions to the downtown TIF, while the TRVer's gerrymandered the upper portion into their TIF. In no way, shape or form is it a "significant bonus gift" for the developer.

As for Lincoln's "about to start"---I think they are waiting on permits from the city. Expect to see commencement of construction soon.

#34 John S.

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 10:24 AM


Is the TIF Distirct a developer's gift?

Thanks for your clarification. I'll be the first to admit that I do not understand all of the minutia involved in Tax Increment Financing Districts but given the substantial effort the developer put into getting a TIF district created, (there were several community meetings held about the topic) I natually assumed there was a significant monetary payoff on his side. Now I'm not sure I understand why it was needed and how it would benefit the average long time homeowner in the Samuels Avenue neighborhood. (the dwindling number that remain) If you would be interested in taking the time to explain who benefits the most and why from a TIF District, I'd be highly appreciative.

John S.

#35 Sam Stone

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 01:29 PM

I'd be happy to explain, John S.

The de facto destinations of your property tax dollars are the general funds of the governments that tax you. The general funds pay for just about everything our local governments do. In the case of the city, this money gets spread out over the whole city and pays a lot of payroll and overhead and debt service which in turn pays for infrastructure all over the city. This is a good and bad thing. The disadvantage is that the spending is very diffuse and sometimes does not get targeted to areas that would benefit the most from it. TIF works by taking any increase in taxes due to increases in property value and keeping it separate from the general fund so that it can be spent directly in the district. The theory is that that spending (largely on infrastructure) will itself increase the values of property in the district. And since the amount that is spent is directly proportional to the amount that property values increase, it is sometimes referred to as self financing.

The other important feature of TIF is that it is applied to ALL taxing jurisdictions, so that the TIF revenue gets diverted from their general funds, too. The significance of this is that while all of those governments have a stake in seeing property values increase, they are not all usually in the business of economic development or infrastructure construction. The city, however, which manages the TIF, is typically involved in those activities. That is why TIF is often seen as a free gift to the city from other taxing jurisdictions. They essentially get to spend other governments' money. But the alternatives (tax abatements and rebates, for instance) are much less efficient.

The TIF district money usually gets spent on infrastructure improvements that defray the cost of development for the developer. This is especially important in urban infill projects where existing infrastructure is very old and very costly to upgrade or replace. The costs of developing and doing business in the inner city are higher than they are in the suburbs and TIFs are there to help put them on a more level playing field. That said, there are obviously some TIFs that the city has set up in greenfield locations that were totally inappropriate.

I hope that was helpful.

#36 John S.

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 08:40 AM


"The TIF district money usually gets spent on infrastructure improvements that defray the cost of development for the developer. This is especially important in urban infill projects where existing infrastructure is very old and very costly to upgrade or replace. The costs of developing and doing business in the inner city are higher than they are in the suburbs and TIFs are there to help put them on a more level playing field. I hope that was helpful."

Sam,

Thanks for the excellent explanation. I completely agree that the infrastructure in the Samuels Avenue neighborhood was, as one person put it, "ancient". Some of the 100 year-old-plus old brick sewer channels looked like the catacombs of Rome. Power lines are also quite dated with scores of repairs and additions made over many years. Even though I was apparently in error about TIF's being a "gift" for developers, this thread helps to explain and understand how TIF's work in our inner-city neighborhoods. I appreciate your helpful insight.
John S.

#37 Sam Stone

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 09:54 AM

While we're on the subject, I thought I might add a couple more points.

There are several commonly used economic development tools around here besides TIF: PIDs, tax abatements, tax rebates, and direct expenditure. Direct expenditure out of the city's general fund or through in kind donations of land are the least common and the most like gifts. Tax abatements and rebates are essentially the same thing. In an abatement, increases in value to the property are abated away and taxed progressively more every year until eventually (like 20 years down the road) the owner is paying taxes on the full value of the property. A rebate is more or less the same thing, but used in cases where they want to rebate a tax other than the property tax (like sales) or where abatements have been prohibited by law (or as I suspect in some cases it allows the developer to smooth their corporate income tax liability by deducting it in one year and then getting the rebate back in another, but that's a whole other story). Abatements and rebates now often come with strings attached related to employment or contracting. Like TIF, the size of the abatement is proportional to the amount of value the developer creates in the area. The problem, though, is that the city essentially has to trust the developer to do the right thing and develop the land, whereas with TIF, the tax gets collected and spent by the city.

PIDs are probably the least complex and most forthright of the tools. A surcharge is added to the existing property tax in the district and the revenue collected goes to pay for improvements. Because they raise the total rate, they are obviously not as popular as TIF. Also, they require that property values already be high enough to produce the needed revenue so they tend to work better in places that are less depressed or blighted. Which brings me to my last point.

The state enabling legislation for TIF in Texas says that they are intended for blighted areas that would not be developed but for the use of TIF. There is no state board or commission that reviews the creation or administration of TIF districts nor does the TIF have to be approved by the state legislature. Some states provide for a lot more oversight in the TIF creation process. Instead, enforcement gets left on the doorstep of the state's Attorney General office. They lack the expertise to deal with this sort of thing and probably have bigger fish to fry anyway and that's why there are more than a few suburban TIFs in the Metroplex.

#38 gdvanc

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 07:12 PM

What an enjoyable and informative discussion. John S., thanks for starting it and contributing your perspective. Sam, thanks for the TIF explanation. I'll have some follow-up questions later.


QUOTE (djold1 @ Mar 28 2008, 01:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE
This vanished house, along with a number of other architecturally significant neighborhood homes, was featured in the late 1970's Northside architectural survey by the North Fort Worth Historical Society. Very few copies of this rare work survive but if anyone wants to get a feel for how much has already been lost, the photographic evidence can readily be found within its pages.


This has been and is one of the most interestng of the recent local history threads. Much information that is either new or mostly forgotten has come to light. Many of us who volunteer for the North Fort Worth Historical Society & Stockyards Musuem have been following this thread.

If you take the trek up Samuels Avenue from the flats on the north, the near total destruction of one of the earliest FW neighborhoods is appalling.

To perhaps add a little more information click here here to see a large 11mb PDF file of the complete 35 page 1977 North Worth Worth Architectual/Historical Survey and Adaptive Reuse Studies publication of which the Society was co-author and publisher with several others.


A friend of mine saw this in a garage sale and thought of me. After receiving it, I drove around the Samuels area for the first time as well as some of the old Nort Fort Worth neighborhoods. There were still houses and buildings that seemed relatively well-kept, but it was disappointing how many had been lost or were in utter disrepair. It was disappointing for the usual reasons, but one thing that struck me was that in some cases these houses could have represented perhaps the best opportunity for a person of relatively modest means (myself included) to own a fairly unique home with distinctive character. Without these, a cube from Box & Jacobs or KB Clones may be the best they can afford. As these neighborhoods disappear, a city with history begins to look a little more like Plano.

#39 AndyN

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 12:10 AM

Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! Don't be judging our casitas. I don't normaly leave the trees sticking out of my roof untrimmed, but I was waiting on the insurance settlement. And that pile of splinters in my driveway was a carport two weeks ago. Storm damage aside, it is still a nice neighborhood north of the pioneer cemetery.
Www.fortwortharchitecture.com

#40 redhead

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 01:47 PM

We actually bought a house on Samuels for one of our "chidults" (child-adult), only to discover that our home inspector deemed it unsafe for habitation. Old electrical and a number of structural issues...the price to bring it up to par was more than seemed smart to spend...

#41 John S.

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 02:38 PM

QUOTE (redhead @ Apr 25 2008, 02:47 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We actually bought a house on Samuels for one of our "chidults" (child-adult), only to discover that our home inspector deemed it unsafe for habitation. Old electrical and a number of structural issues...the price to bring it up to par was more than seemed smart to spend...



In retrospect, was that a good decision? So, did you "dump" it after finding out how much it would cost to repair/renovate? Seeing that vacant lots in the development area have recently been bringing as much as $35 a square foot, (according to the neighborhood grape-vine) that old run down dwelling might have been worth holding on to, for the land value alone. I will agree with you that the demand on Samuels for restored historic homes has never been very great. The Kelley family bought the old Garvey-Viehl Queen Anne mansion in 1972 for around $20,000. It sits on over 3 acres of land going down to the middle of the Trinity River and the land alone should be conservatively worth over $2 million to a developer. From a preservation perspective, I hope the old Manse sees better days as a law office, bed & breakfast, or house museum while the land behind it gets redeveloped.

Our home, largely neglected for much of the 20th century, still has "issues" in terms of updates and other needed work. However, until it sells, I intend to keep on working on it, albeit, at a fairly slow pace as time and money allpw
Too bad more would-be restorers didn't "discover" the hidden historic treasures of Samuels Avenue before the developers did-it might have been nice to have had one "Gaslight" era neighborhood remaining in Fort Worth.

#42 redhead

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 11:10 AM

No, we did not dump it. We are sitting on it for the future land value.

I think the Kelley house is gorgeous, but like Thistle Hill, I imagine it needs a fortune in repair. I think it would make a great wedding house with gardens terraced down behind it to capture the view. It's beautiful, but its condition is very sad---walls collapsing in the front, and obvious need of paint, etc...sad.gif

#43 FortWorthian

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Posted 11 June 2024 - 08:30 AM

John,

I don't suppose you found any photos of an old building in the home, did you? The Martin Casey Building that once was on Lancaster is one of the mysteries of Fort Worth history. The only image of it that has been discovered is Bror Utter's 1957 watercolor painting of it. I wrote an article about Utter's paintings and the Martin Casey Building was one that I wrote about.

Kevin,

Teresa Reilly (who took up residence in our home after Martin Casey, her cousin, bought it for her in 1890) surely had frequent occasions to visit with the Caseys. The Caseys, Reillys, Lehanes, and Fenelons (731 Samuels) were all family related. However, before we bought the old homeplace in the summer of 1989, a complete estate sale had been conducted on the premises. (I've talked to a couple of veteran FW Antiques dealers who attest to some of the fantastic, one-of-a-kind local artifacts) When we bought the property, which by now most of you must have deduced is at 823 Samuels, we found the house totally empty, even the ornate over-mantel in the parlor had been sold. The executrix of the estate managed to locate it and graciously returned it to us as a gift a few years later. The few family photos I copied (also courtesy of the estate executrix) were of Teresa Reilly and her son and grandchildren-two taken in front of the house in the early 1900's. . I was told no other photos were found in the house and a few others (of family members) had been sent out to one surviving neice in California. Since the family was always very frugal and apparently never threw anything away, the fact that more photos weren't found remains something of a mystery. Maybe they went to another family member years ago or some lucky estate sale buyer quietly bought a box full and slipped away-we'll never know. In any event, the long answer to your short question is that no, a photo of the Martin Casey Building has not been found. (I find it almost impossible that there isn't a copy somewhere in someone's dusty collection)

Bror Utter (that was a very nice article you wrote, BTW) seems to have faithfully captured the essence of his subject buildings-makes me wonder if he took any photos of his subjects before he rendered them? Did you notice the architectural detail similarities between the Casey building and the 1899 (Gulf, Colorado, &) Santa Fe Depot building? (both in the Neo-Classical, Beaux Arts style) Coincidence, or connected? I took a look online for information about the Depot and noted that the architect is not known-if someone could find a contemporary newpaper on microfilm citing the construction of the depot, surely it would have mentioned the architect. So much unfinished research...so little free time...(sigh!)

John

 

823 Samuels slated for demo?

 

Record HCLC-24-133: 
Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission
Record Status: Pending

https://aca-prod.acc...ShowInspection=

 

Proposed Work: Demolition



#44 Austin55

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Posted 11 June 2024 - 08:44 AM

The trees would be the saddest thing to lose there.






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